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

Ruth Abrams

Project
Women Who Dared

Judith Rosenbaum interviewed Judge Ruth Abrams on July 25, 2001, in Boston, Massachusetts, as part of the Women Who Dared Oral History Project. Judge Abrams explores her family, education, career path, focus on gender issues, and notable legal cases in an interview.

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.

Frances Addelson

Project
Women Whose Lives Span the Century

Rochelle Ruthchild interviewed Frances Addelson on October 18, November 14, and December 10, 1997, in Boston, Massachusetts, as part of the Women Whose Lives Spanned The Century Oral History Project. Addelson shares her life journey from childhood experiences in a Jewish orphanage in Boston to her education at Radcliffe College, a career in social work, and active involvement in social justice, despite not being particularly religious, until an accident in the late 1990s.

Rita Arditti

Project
Women Who Dared

Julie Johnson interviewed Rita Arditti on March 14, 2005, in Boston, Massachusetts, as part of the Women Who Dared Oral History Project. Arditti, a Jewish activist from Argentina, discusses her upbringing, academic journey, involvement in the women's movement and Science for the People, her battle with breast cancer, and her impactful work with the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo.

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.

Gilda Bruckman

Project
Ga’avah: LGBTQ+ Jews

Nicole Zador interviewed Gilda Bruckman on November 10, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts as part of the Ga'avah LGBTQ+ Jews project. In this interview, Gilda discusses her upbringing, connection to the Jewish community, coming out experience, co-founding of the book store New Words and its evolution into a non-profit, as well as her extensive involvement in various volunteer programs and organizations, highlighting how her research into her family history as well as her relationship with her partner, Judy Wachs, strengthened her bond with Judaism.

Peggy Charren

Project
Women Who Dared

Judith Rosenbaum interviewed Peggy Charren on July 23, 2001, in Boston, Massachusetts, as part of the Women Who Dared Oral History Project. Charren talks about her family background, her advocacy for children's television programming through Action for Children's Television (ACT), her passion for literature, her marriage, and her reflections on her life and activism, including receiving prestigious honors.

Marjorie Edenfeld

Project
Women Whose Lives Span the Century

Frances Godine interviewed Marjorie Loeb Edenfield on October 31, 1997, in Boston, Massachusetts, as of the Women Whose Lives Spanned the Century Oral History Project. Edenfield reflects on her late accomplishments, experiences of identity, family dynamics, religious affiliation, motherhood, and career at Filene's, and contemplates friendship, spirituality, and gratitude.

Martha Finn

Project
Women Whose Lives Span the Century

Ellen Meisel interviewed Martha Goldstein Finn on January 13th, 1997 in Boston Massachusetts as part of the project Women Whose Lives Span the Century. Finn discusses her early life in Dorchester, her college experience in the 1920s and 1930s, the challenges faced by women in the workforce at the time, her family life, including adopting a child, and her involvement in volunteer and community work, particularly with ORT and Temple Israel.

Barbara Gaffin

Project
Women Who Dared

Judith Rosenbaum interviewed Barbara Gaffin in Boston, Massachusetts on July 11, 2000, as part of the Women Who Dared Oral History Project. Gaffin, raised in a Jewish community, recounts her career in Jewish organizations, her perspective on the relationship between American Jews and Israel, her work in Ethiopia, and the prejudice and contradictions she encountered while helping others.

Hulda Gittelsohn

Project
Women Whose Lives Span the Century

Betsy Abrams and Bobbie Burstein interviewed Hulda “Bubbles” Gittelsohn on June 20, 1997, in Boston, Massachusetts, as part of the Women Whose Lives Spanned The Century Oral History Project. Gittelsohn discusses her family heritage, childhood religious customs, experiences at Temple and Wellesley College, family tragedies, finding support in Temple Israel, her travels around the world, and her life in a retirement community.

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.

Irene Goldman

Project
Women Whose Lives Span the Century

Helene Bailen interviewed Irene Goldman on December 20, 1997, in Boston, Massachusetts, as part of the Women Whose Lives Spanned The Century Oral History Project. Goldman discusses her upbringing, her parents' business, her education at Mt. Ida Junior College, raising a family, her involvement in volunteerism, and their Jewish customs and affiliations.

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.

Judith Hirschfield-Bartek

Project
Women Who Dared

Judith Rosenbaum interviewed Judi Hirshfield-Bartek in Boston, Massachusetts, as part of the Women Who Dared Oral History Project. Hirshfeld-Bartek, an oncology nurse, discusses her activism in breast cancer research funding, influenced by her Jewish upbringing and family's philanthropic values, as well as her lobbying efforts for increased funding.

Anne A. Jackson

Project
Women Whose Lives Span the Century

Pam Goodman and Fran Putnoi interviewed Anne A. Jackson on February 4 and May 19, 1997, in Boston, Massachusetts, as part of the Women Whose Lives Spanned The Century Oral History Project. Jackson recounts her personal journey, including her close relationship with her sister and the impact of her death, her experiences during the war years, raising her children, and her lifelong passion for art.

Idit Klein

Project
Women Who Dared

Julie Johnson interviewed Idit Klein on February 25, 2005, in Boston, Massachusetts, as part of the Women Who Dared Project. Idit's interview highlights her lifelong journey from childhood in Israel to her activism as a Jewish leader, emphasizing her commitment to supporting marginalized groups, particularly LGBTQ+ Jews, and her deep connection to her Jewish identity and the importance of community.

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.

Ronya Schwaab

Project
Women Whose Lives Span the Century

Vicki Gabriner interviewed Ronya Schwaab on January 18 and 26, February 3 and 7, and June 18, 1997, in Boston, Massachusetts, as part of the Women Whose Lives Spanned The Century Oral History Project. Schwaab recounts her childhood in Gomel, Belarus, highlighting aspects such as the First World War, Jewish traditions, women's roles, interfaith relations, arranged marriages, and encounters with the anti-revolutionary group, the Chyornaya Sotnya.

Diana Shklyarov

Project
Soviet Jewry

Gabriel Weinstein and Aaron Hersh interviewed Diana Shklyarov on November 10, 2016, in Boston, Massachusetts, as part of the Soviet Jewry Oral History Project. Shklyarov discusses her desire to leave the USSR, her family's struggles with denied exit visas, her Jewish identity, experiences with antisemitism, her arrival in the United States, and the importance of Jewish identity in her life now.

Olga Shmuylovich

Project
Soviet Jewry

Alexandra Kiosse interviewed Olga Shmuylovich on July 24, 2016, in Boston, Massachusetts, as part of the Soviet Jewry Oral History Collection. Shmuylovich details her upbringing in the Soviet Union, her involvement in the Jewish artist movement, her artistic journey under the mentorship of Solomon Levin, her immigration to the United States, her artistic career in Boston, and her inspirations from Jewish culture and history in her artwork.

Jeanette Simon

Project
Women Whose Lives Span the Century

Frances Godine interviewed Jeanette Simon on October 7 and February 7, 1998, in Boston, Massachusetts, as part of the Women Whose Lives Spanned the Century Oral History Project. Simon shares her memories of growing up during the Great Depression, her education at Wellesley College, and her active life, including her involvement in a women's investment club and her connection to Judaism.

Judy Somberg

Project
Women Who Dared

Judith Rosenbaum interviewed Judy Somberg on July 18, 2000, in Boston, Massachusetts, as part of the Women Who Dared Oral History Project. Somberg recounts her activism through the years, reflecting on her involvement in anti-war movements, women's rights, and the Cambridge Sister City Project, advocating for human rights and supporting affected communities.

Andrea Waldstein

Project
Soviet Jewry

Georgia Westbrook and Alexandra Kiosse interviewed Andrea Waldstein on July 14, 2016, in Boston, Massachusetts, as part of the Soviet Jewry Oral History Collection. Waldstein explores her family's Ukrainian roots, her Jewish upbringing in Massachusetts, her involvement in the Soviet Jewry Movement, and her reflections on Jewish identity and women's issues.

Sara Wallace

Project
Women Whose Lives Span the Century

Iris Geik interviewed Sara Wallace on February 8, 1997, in Boston, Massachusetts, as part of the Women Whose Lives Spanned The Century Oral History Project. Wallace talks about her community activism and career as a lawyer, discusses her immigrant upbringing, her pioneering role as a woman in the legal profession, her involvement in social advocacy, and her membership with Temple Israel Boston.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Oral History Collection." (Viewed on February 25, 2024) <http://jwa.org/oralhistories>.