Carol Wise

b. October 29, 1929

Carol Wise was born in Chicago in 1929. Growing up, she knew she was Jewish, but it wasn't a central part of her life. She left Chicago in 1947 to get a degree from Sophie Newcomb. Transferring after her sophomore year, she instead earned a degree from the National College of Education in Chicago. She married Richard M. Wise, and they moved to New Orleans and ran a real estate business together. They had three children. Wise worked with multiple Jewish charity organizations and fundraised for various Jewish causes, such as the Jewish Endowment, the Jewish Federation, and the Jewish Welfare Campaign, and served on multiple boards, including the JCC (Jewish Community Center), the Touro Synagogue, and the Touro Infirmary.

Scope and Content Note

Wise shares stories about her childhood, her children’s education, as well as her deepening connection to Judaism. She became involved in the Jewish community through the (New Orleans) Federation. She describes her progression through various Jewish charities and organizations, including when she was chair of the Cash collections committee, where she was very successful, receiving a Tikkun Olam award. Afterward, her responsibilities grew. Wise shares her experiences in the New Orleans Jewish community. Most of the interview focuses on her responses to hurricane Katrina. At first, her only preparations were boarding up her house, but her family convinced her to evacuate to Houston. She describes the feelings of anxiety and distress that followed as she and her family watched the news unfolding about New Orleans. Wise discusses how the Jewish community responded and gathered, including special High Holy Day services for displaced Jews in Houston. She reflects on returning to New Orleans, her deep commitment to the city, and the importance of including women in the rebuilding process. She emphasizes the pride she felt seeing Jewish student volunteers. Depicting her role in the recovery process, Wise recounts her efforts to reorganize Success by 6, a child care program, and her collaboration with other organizations, including United Way. She describes the changes she noticed after the hurricane, including increased racial tensions. 

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How to cite this page

Oral History of Carol Wise. Interviewed by Rosalind Hinton. 8 July 2007. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on April 12, 2024) <http://jwa.org/oralhistories/wise-carol>.

Oral History of Carol Wise 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.