Naomi Kellman

b. 1911

Naomi Kellman, born in 1911 in East Baltimore, was a longtime chronicler of Baltimore Jewish communal history. The oldest of four children, Naomi and her family shared a large and gracious home in the Windsor Hills neighborhood with her aunt and uncle. She graduated from Goucher College in 1933 and was a frequent contributor of feature articles to The Baltimore Sun. She began her career as a copywriter in advertising for department stores in Washington, D.C. and New York. Naomi moved back to Baltimore to take a position at The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, where she worked in the hub of Jewish communal life for over four decades. Devoted to her family, Naomi cherished a close relationship with her nieces and nephews. Naomi Kellman passed away on June 23, 2004.

Scope and Content Note

Naomi talks about her happy childhood growing up in East Baltimore, the Madison Avenue Jewish communities, memories of her house in Windsor Hills, and her family. Her father was a lawyer and Zionist leader. Naomi's family were members of Beth Tfiloh Congregation, a modern Orthodox synagogue in Pikesville, Maryland. Naomi describes the demographics of the Park School where she attended; her contact with non-Jews was limited there. Even though Naomi's family was wealthy and her father was a prominent figure in the community, she was made to feel inferior in school because her family was not German; Naomi's father had father immigrated from Russia as an infant. Naomi remembers her family's Jewish traditions and practices, such as family Shabbat and entertaining on Shabbat afternoon. Her family became more observant when her father became shut president. Naomi recalls her college experiences at Goucher, shares her attitudes toward sororities and living at home. Here, she participated in the Association of City Girls. Naomi's family eventually left Windsor Hills as part of the "white flight" from the city of Baltimore. After college, Naomi pursued a career writing advertising copy and worked for Associated Jewish Charities. She also is writing a history of Baltimore. Naomi talks about encountering antisemitism throughout her life and career and once feared an employer would fire her if he knew she was Jewish. Naomi shares memories of Camp Louise, which enabled underprivileged children to go to camp, but kids from middle and upper-middle-class families also attended. Looking back, Naomi is satisfied with her life decisions, not marrying, and pursuing a career that brought her much fulfillment. Finally, Naomi reflects on her relationship with her sisters, how Forest Park has changed over the years, changes at Associated Jewish Charities, and her travel experience throughout her life. 

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How to cite this page

Oral History of Naomi Kellman. Interviewed by Elaine Eff. 9 July 2001. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on February 29, 2024) <http://jwa.org/oralhistories/kellman-naoimi>.

Oral History of Naomi Kellman by the Jewish Women's Archive is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://jwa.org/contact/OralHistory.