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Ruth Emmerman Peizer

b. 1923

Ruth Peizer’s love affair with Yiddish began when her parents, Riva and Abraham Immerman, sent their only child to Chicago’s Arbeiter Ring [Workmen’s Circle] school at age nine, and then to the Sholem Aleichem Institute where she graduated valedictorian at age 18. Since moving to (West) Seattle in 1949, Ruth has become Seattle’s preeminent Yiddish instructor, teaching at the University of Washington in the 1980s and through the Jewish Federation today. Ruth’s knowledge of Yiddish has impacted her entire life through Yiddish culture including her adoration of Yiddish theatre, literature and music. Yiddish has also opened many doors all over the world for Ruth and her husband, Dr. Samuel Peizer, from her sponsorship of Russian refusniks seeking asylum in Seattle to her sending humanitarian aid to the Baltics since 1992.  

Scope and Content Note

Peizer shares stories about her early life in Chicago and her Yiddish and Jewish upbringing.  She details her parents' marriage and immigration to Chicago and discusses her relationship with her family as an only child.  Peizer reflects on her public-school education and college study.  She laments her fathers' death and shares her thoughts on cancer and illness.  She talks about working, meeting her husband, and her strong connection to Yiddishkeit.  Peizer remembers her honeymoon and moving to Seattle, where she had three children.  She discusses her struggles during the Korean War and her relationship with motherhood.  Ruth reflects on her volunteer work within the Seattle Jewish community and teaching Yiddish at the University of Washington.  She also discusses volunteering in Latvia and the impact that her volunteering has had on both herself and others.  To conclude, she reflects on her love of Yiddish language and culture, love, and loneliness. 

How to cite this page

Oral History of Ruth Emmerman Peizer. Interviewed by Pamela Lavitt Brown. 18 June 2001, 6 August 2001. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on December 11, 2023) <https://jwa.org/oralhistories/peizer-emmerman>.

Oral History of Ruth Emmerman Peizer 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.


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