Bluma Rivkin

b. July 10, 1952

Bluma Rivkin, daughter of a Chabad rabbi, was born in 1952 in New Jersey; she has six siblings. In 1972, Bluma married Zelig Rivkin, a Chabad rabbi; with her husband, she was sent by the Rebbe (an authoritative and holy figure within the Chabad community) to open a Chabad House on the Tulane campus in 1976. Rivkin was involved in many Jewish communal organizations, including Mikvah Chaya, N'shei Chabad, and the Torah Academy -- where she worked as an educator. Additionally, she volunteered as an educator, leading adult education/women's programming, hosting families for Shabbat, and guiding mikvah education. She has nine children. 

Scope and Content Note

Rivkin describes her upbringing as part of a Chabad Hassidic family in New Jersey. She discusses how she ended up in New Orleans, helping her husband run the Chabad House at Tulane, and how they helped foster a vibrant community there. Beyond Chabad, Rivkin was involved in other aspects of the local Jewish community, including the mikveh. She details the moments leading up to Hurricane Katrina: their doubts about evacuation, how she and her family helped people get kosher food, and the realization that it would be a dangerous hurricane, but it was too late to leave. She shares the mass confusion after the levees broke following the storm. Rivkin chronicles their evacuation to Houston, the welcoming community, and how they helped rescue and resettlement efforts. Rivkin emphasizes how her spirituality and beliefs guided her through the experiences surrounding Katrina. Still away from home, she describes Rosh HaShanah's sacred role in helping her and the others start to process and heal. She portrays returning to her home and seeing the extent of the damage, emphasizing the horrible smells of her house and the entire city. Rivkin recounts preparing and celebrating Sukkot and Simchat Torah, which were filled with incredible joy.

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How to cite this page

Oral History of Bluma Rivkin. Interviewed by Rosalind Hinton. 12 October 2006. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on April 24, 2024) <http://jwa.org/oralhistories/rivkin-bluma>.

Oral History of Bluma Rivkin 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.