Ruth Steller Klein

Ruth Stellar Klein's father emigrated from Russia at age 16 to open a suit store in Somerville; her mother's family came from Romania and spoke Yiddish. She began studying piano at age nine, attended the Boston University School of Music, and became a professional piano teacher until her first pregnancy. She devoted much of her adult life to volunteering for Jewish causes and summer camps and was an active member of Temple Israel for over fifty years. She takes great pride in maintaining her life-long friendships and in building community through hosting gatherings and cooking. Her husband Arthur, a Harvard graduate, taught at Temple Israel as well as high schools in Newton, and together they had two daughters, who were of college-age at the time of her interview.

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Scope and Content Note

Ruth talks about her and her family's close involvement with Temple Israel, her fifty-year membership there, and what it means to hr. Ruth's husband, Arthur, taught at Temple Israel, which motivated Ruth to become more active and involved in projects, the PTA, fundraising, and other activities. Ruth was also very active In the Sisterhood, and it served as a hub for her social life. Ruth describes her childhood growing up outside of Boston in Somerville and Roxbury with three brothers and a sister. Ruth learned to play the piano, attended the Boston University School of Music, and taught private lessons. She's stopped playing and teaching when she became pregnant. She recalls the early years of her married life, spending summers in Maine, starting a family, and raising their kids. Her husband was in the service during World War II. He was a math teacher at the Boston Latin School, then Newtown High School, Boston University, Northeastern Newton Junior College, and Temple Israel when he got out. Arthur died in 1967, and Ruth describes how life changed for her and her family after his death. Ruth also goes back and traces her family genealogy, immigration history, and Orthodox background. She talks about women's roles and opportunities and how she saw those things change over the course of her life and with the influence of the women's movement. Ruth feels she was discriminated against for being Jewish, not necessarily for being a woman. She remembers significant events during the 20th Century and their impact on her and her family, particularly World War II, where her husband and many of her relatives served. Ruth was six months pregnant when her husband was sent overseas. Finally, Ruth reflects on raising her children, what they have grown up to be, the holidays they celebrate together, and her lifelong passion for education and teaching young people, in particular.


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How to cite this page

Oral History of Ruth Steller Klein. Interviewed by Frances Godine. 30 May 1997. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on February 23, 2024) <>.

Oral History of Ruth Steller Klein 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