Yemema Seligson

b. 1915

Yemema “Mimi” Papish Seligson was born in 1915 in New York City to Russian-born parents (both from Pinsk, now part of Belarus).  Before settling in Brookline, she lived in Brooklyn, Far Rockaway, and Woodmere.  As the daughter of immigrants, education was of the utmost importance.  Seligson went to Hunter College, Cornell University, and Columbia University to graduate with her bachelor's degree in 1935 and New York University, where she earned her master's in 1941.  She worked in the education field as a reading specialist in the Boston area and as a third-grade teacher at Oak Hill Elementary school in Newton, Massachusetts.  For one year, Yemema taught Hebrew at Brandeis University.  Additionally, Seligson volunteered for Hadassah, Hebrew College (where she taught English to Russian immigrants), Girl Scouts, and the World Organization of Workers (WOW).  Seligson was a member of Temple Israel since 1945 and has taught Hebrew and Sunday School for over twenty years.  She married Isaac Seligson, a social worker, in November 1936, and they had two children, David and Elizabeth.

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Scope and Content Note

Seligson discusses family photos showing her parents  pre- and post-immigration to the United States from Pinsk, Russia (now Belarus).  She talks about her mother's work as a seamstress and shares stories from her childhood.  Linguist Eliezer Ben‑Yehuda was a family friend and would visit her childhood home in Brooklyn.  Yemema traces her career experiences from camp counselor and Sunday School teacher to university professor.  Finally, Yemema talks about her current life, activities, trips to Florida, and many friends.  


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How to cite this page

Oral History of Yemema Seligson. Interviewed by Joan Rachlin. 7 January 1998. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on February 29, 2024) <>.

Oral History of Yemema Seligson 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