Hinda Miller

b. 1950

Hinda Miller was born in Montreal, Canada 1950. In the early 1960s, few young women were bat mitzvahed or confirmed, but she did attend Hebrew school. After graduating from Westmount High School at age 17, Hinda went to Parsons School of Design in New York City and settled permanently in the United States. In the late 1970's she moved to Burlington, Vermont, to design costumes for the Champlain Shakespeare Festival. At this time, Hinda and her friend invented the first sports bra for women: The Jogbra. In 2002, Honda was elected to the Vermont State Senate. Hinda, seeking a spiritual life, has been practicing yoga since her early twenties. She is currently on a path to integrate her two sources of spirituality: Judaism and yoga. She lives in Burlington with her husband, Joel Miller, a therapist, and they have two children, Noah and Macey.

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Scope and Content Note

Hinda talks about her family background and history and explains how her family settled in Canada. Her grandfather had come to Canada in 1919 to close a failing Montreal furniture business owned by his uncle. Over two years during the 1990s, Hinda had an opportunity to have reunions with her family members. She traveled to the small shtetl of Plungyan, Lithuania, to participate in a memorial service for her family and the other Jews killed there during the Holocaust. They also traveled to Ireland and England, where her grandmother's family had lived before immigrating to Canada. Growing up in Montreal was an excellent experience for Hinda. The family was part of a large Jewish community and belonged to a Conservative Synagogue called Shaar Hashomayim. Hinda was educated at an Anglican girls' school in a nod to her mother's upbringing. She recalls singing hymns in the morning and Jewish chants in the afternoon until, in her teens, some subtle antisemitic remarks at a school dance led her to ask to attend public school. Hinda discusses her educational experiences. She spent a year at McGill University before moving to New York and enrolling at the Parsons School of Design. She spent a year doing window displays for a store on West 57th and then enrolled at New York University as a theater major in costume design. In the 1970s, Hinda became deeply involved in studying yoga and Kabbalah. A position as costume designer with the Champlain Shakespeare Festival brought Hinda to Vermont. Hinda tells the story of how she and a couple of friends invented and manufactured the first sports bras for women, the Jogbra. The Smithsonian Institute and the Metropolitan Museum of Art have original Jogbras in their collections. The Washington Post said, "Title IX and the Sports Bra were the two most important innovations to help the increase of women's participation in sports and fitness." Hinda also discusses her entre to politics, her campaign for State Senate, and her political platforms and priorities. The defeat of Al Gore in the 2000 presidential election convinced Hinda to become an American citizen in order to vote and participate fully in politics. At the suggestion of a friend, Hinda decided to run for state senator. She was first elected in 2002 and had a particular interest in economic development. Finally, Hinda reflects on meeting her husband, raising her family, and her Jewish identity. 

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How to cite this page

Oral History of Hinda Miller. Interviewed by Sandra Stillman Gartner. 5 December 2006. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on April 22, 2024) <http://jwa.org/oralhistories/miller-hinda>.

Oral History of Hinda Miller 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.