Oral History Collection

The Nicki Newman Tanner

Oral History Collection

As part of JWA’s mission to expand the narrative of Jewish history, we have collected and recorded hundreds of interviews with leaders, activists, and community members across the United States, documenting their encounters with major events and movements of the 20th and 21st centuries and the many ways that gender, class, place, and religious and ethnic identities have shaped women’s lives. With generous support from Nicki Newman Tanner,  Mass Humanities, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, we are proud to make these interviews and transcripts available to the public. All entries include transcripts; audio or video recordings are also available where narrator permissions allow. 

More about the collection

Ann Abrams

Project
Ga’avah: LGBTQ+ Jews

Nicole Zador interviewed Ann Abrams on November 15, 2022, in Boston, Massachusetts as part of the Ga'avah LGBTQ+ Jews project. Ann details her upbringing in the Conservative movement during the late 50s and 60s, her journey of coming out, her influential role as the Temple Israel librarian supporting the LGBTQ+ community, her passion for musical parodies, co-authoring a book of Jewish folk songs for peace, and meeting her wife while working at the temple, reflecting on her life, family, and professional endeavors.

Bessie Berman

Project
Women Whose Lives Span the Century

Betsy Friedman Abrams interviewed Bessie Berman on December 10, 1996, in Boston, Massachusetts, as part of the Women Whose Lives Spanned The Century Oral History Project. Berman explains her introduction to Temple Israel, her roles and responsibilities, her relationship with her coworkers and the rabbis, and how her career unfolded over fifty years with Temple Israel.

Harriet Cohn

Project
Women Whose Lives Span the Century

Helene Bailen interviewed Harriet Segal Cohn on January 9 and January 16, 1997, in Westwood, Massachusetts, as part of the Women Whose Lives Spanned The Century Oral History Project. Harriet shares her family's immigration to Boston, her childhood experiences, education, encountering antisemitism, meeting her husband, experiences volunteering, and reflects on her life as a widow.

Barbara Cole

Project
Women Whose Lives Span the Century

Rachel Alexander interviewed Barbara Cole on August 20, 1997, in Lexington, Massachusetts, as part of the Women Whose Lives Span The Century Oral History Project. Cole discusses her upbringing, Jewish cultural background, thoughts on religion, experiences at Smith College and work at Filene's, as well as her travels to the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia.

Selma Finstein

Project
Women Whose Lives Span the Century

Betsy Friedman Abrams and Roberta Burstein interviewed Selma Gross Finstein on September 30, 1997, in Waltham, Massachusetts, as part of Women Whose Lives Spanned The Century Oral History Project. Finstein discusses growing up in a predominantly non-Jewish area, her involvement in Temple Israel, her education at Boston Teacher's College and teaching at the Boston Public Library, her second career at Brandeis, and the influential people in her life.

Priscilla Golding

Project
Ga’avah: LGBTQ+ Jews

Nicole Zador interviewed Priscilla Golding on November 9, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts as a part of the Ga'avah: LGBTQ+ Jews project. Priscilla recounts her family history, upbringing in Boston, higher education experiences, her brother's AIDS battle, her coming out journey and its reception, involvement with Am Tikva and outreach to synagogues, memories of the International Congress of Gay and Lesbian Jews, and reflections on the changes within the queer community, including her relationship and marriage to Barbara Berg.

Florence Gross

Project
Women Whose Lives Span the Century

Rachel Alexander interviewed Florence Gross on July 11, 1997, in Boston, Massachusetts, as part of the Women Whose Lives Spanned The Century Oral History Project. Gross shares her family history, childhood memories, career path as a social worker, marriages, volunteering experiences, and her lifelong connection to Temple Israel, reflecting on the role of Judaism in her life.

Marion Guttentag

Project
Women Whose Lives Span the Century

Emily Mehlman interviewed Marion Guttentag on June 4, 1996, in Needham, Massachusetts, as part of the Women Whose Lives Span the Century Oral History Project. Guttentag reminisces on childhood memories of her family, school, and Jewish holidays, as well as her experiences working as a stenographer, reflecting on her career and cherished relationships.

Phyllis Isaacson

Project
DAVAR: Vermont Jewish Women's History Project

Sandra Stillman Gartner and Ann Buffum interviewed Phyllis Wolfson Isaacson on January 24, 2008, in Brattleboro, Vermont, as part of the DAVAR: Vermont Jewish Women's History Project, Isaacson shares her family history, musical journey, experiences as a music teacher and conductor, and her involvement with Jewish communities, highlighting the challenges she faced as a woman in a male-dominated field.

Bernice Kazis

Project
Soviet Jewry

Alexandra Kiosse and Georgia Westbrook interviewed Bernice Kazis on July 5, 2016, in Auburndale, Massachusetts, as part of the Soviet Jewry Oral History Project. Kazis reflects upon her Jewish identity, the role of women in Judaism, her ties to Israel, her experiences in the Soviet Jewry Movement, and her work with Jewish Family Service in resettling Jewish immigrants from Russia.

Ruth Steller Klein

Project
Women Whose Lives Span the Century

Frances Godine interviewed Ruth Stellar Klein on May 30, 1997, in Boston, Massachusetts, as part of the Women Whose Lives Spanned The Century Oral History Project. Klein shares her deep connection to Temple Israel, her musical background, family life, experiences during World War II, discrimination faced, and her passion for education and teaching.

Emily Langowitz

Project
Meet Me at Sinai

Jayne Guberman interviewed Emily Langowitz on February 8, 2015, in New York City, as part of the Meet Me at Sinai Oral History Project. Langowitz discusses her Jewish upbringing, her passion for Jewish learning, her experiences at Yale, her reflections on gender disparities in Judaism, and the influence of her renowned rabbi grandfather and Holocaust scholar grandfather on her spiritual journey.

Marilyn Paul

Project
Women Who Dared

Judith Rosenbaum interviewed Marilyn Paul on July 27, 2000, in Lexington, Massachusetts, as part of the Women Whose Lives Spanned The Century Oral History Project. Marilyn's journey from a childhood in Lexington with a distant connection to Judaism and Israel to her eventual involvement in public health work in Gaza challenged her perspective on management culture, gender dynamics, and Palestinian-Israeli collaboration, ultimately shaping her unique bond with Israel and her career in organizational management, which she plans to continue alongside her husband through consulting for nonprofits in Israel, while reflecting on the cultural differences she's observed between Israeli and American societies.

Richard Perles

Project
Katrina's Jewish Voices

Rosalind Hinton interviewed Richard Perles on September 1, 2006, in New Orleans, Louisiana, as part of the Katrina's Jewish Voices Oral History Project. Perles is a lawyer, musician, and active volunteer from Boston who now resides in New Orleans, serving on the board of a Jewish Day School, practicing law, playing music, and engaging in various charitable activities.

Diane Rippa

Project
DAVAR: Vermont Jewish Women's History Project

Ann Buffum and Sandra Stillman Gartner interviewed Dr. Diane Rippa on November 9, 2008, in Essex Junction, Vermont, as part of DAVAR: The Vermont Jewish History Project. Dr. Rippa discusses her family background, her grandfather's influence on her interest in medicine, involvement in Jewish youth groups, and her career as a family doctor in Vermont, highlighting the challenging period when her father fell seriously ill, which ultimately shaped her approach to patient care.

Nathan Rothstein

Project
Katrina's Jewish Voices

Rosalind Hinton interviewed Nathan Rothstein on July 22, 2007, in New Orleans, Louisiana, as part of the Katrina's Jewish Voices Oral History Project. Rothstein talks about his family history, parents, Jewish upbringing, his experience in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, his work with nonprofit organizations, and his efforts to foster interfaith collaboration in the city, providing insights on race and the Jewish community.

Freyda Sanders

Project
Women Who Dared

Judith Rosenbaum interviewed Freyda Sanders on July 12, 2000, in Brookline, MA, for the Women Who Dared Oral History Project. Sanders shares her upbringing in a politically active household, her diverse career path, her involvement with Hadassah and its impact on her Jewish identity, her trip to Russia, and the influence of her mother's socialist beliefs on her life.

Abby Shevitz

Project
Women Who Dared

Elise Brenner interviewed Abby Shevitz on December 12, 2003, in Sharon, Massachusetts, as part of the Women Who Dared Oral History Project. Shevitz discusses her family, childhood, education, Jewish identity, and involvement in HIV/AIDS activism, emphasizing the impact of womanhood and the women's movement while reflecting on her accomplishments and offering advice for community organizing.

Gertrude Webb

Project
Women Who Dared

Judith Rosenbaum interviewed Gertrude (Goldie) Mikel Webb on January 15, 2002, in Waltham, Massachusetts, for the Women Who Dared Oral History Project. Webb, a Boston educator, discusses her Jewish upbringing, a career in teaching students with learning disabilities, and ongoing commitment to helping others influenced by her Jewish heritage.

Judith Wolf

Project
Women Who Dared

Julie Johnson interviewed Judith Wolf on February 23, 2005, in Boston, Massachusetts, as part of the Women Who Dared Oral History Project. Wolf reflects on her Jewish upbringing, volunteer work, religious schooling, and efforts to establish educational resources for disabled children in Ukraine, emphasizing the role of women and Jewish values in her life.

Judith Wolf

Project
Soviet Jewry

Alexandra Kiosse interviewed Judith Wolf in Newtown, Massachusetts, on July 25, 2016, as part of the Soviet Jewry Oral History Project. Wolf talks about her Jewish identity, marriage, and active involvement in the Soviet Jewry Movement and support for children with special needs, as well as her concerns for the future state of politics and the importance of public discourse.

Sue Wolf-Fordham

Project
Women Who Dared

Julie Johnson interviewed with Sue Wolf-Fordham on March 4, 2005 in Massachusetts for the Women Who Dared Oral History Project. Wolf-Fordham explores her early exposure to social activism through her mother's engagement in the Boston Jewish community, which led her to create adaptive tools for Ukrainian children with disabilities and establish an Educational Resource Center, and her dedication to passing on these values to her children.

Mildred Zanditon

Project
Women Whose Lives Span the Century

Ellen Rovner interviewed Mildred Zanditon on November 10, 1997 in Brookline, Massachusetts, as part of the Women Whose Lives Spanned The Century Oral History Project. Zanditon recalls learning how to make challah with her daughter, her advocacy work for institutionalized individuals and the founding of the non-profit Vinfen, and her pride in passing on values of tzedakah and Tikkun Olam to her daughters.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Oral History Collection." (Viewed on February 24, 2024) <http://jwa.org/oralhistories>.