Pick of the Archives


Dr. Babe Shragg has donated a fascinating 80th birthday tribute booklet put together in 1980 to honor his father, Moshe (Morris) Shragowitz, the “Noted Chazan from Kletsk.”

Moshe Shragowitz, a tailor, immigrated from Russia to New York in 1923 with his wife, Eva, and their infant daughter, who died there. Morris and Eva came to Minneapolis in 1924, where their first son, Harry, was born. Robert (“Babe”), Esser, and Sam followed.

On Mother’s Day, 1939, Eva died, leaving Morris with four children, ages 7 to 14, to raise. He worked in his tailor shop by day and came home to cook, wash, and clean. In 1945, Morris married Esther Wittles, and her daughter Barbara, age 7, joined the family. Morris then gave up his tailor shop and became a shamas, at the Morgan Street Shul, Sharei Zedeck. He also worked as a chazzan at High Holy Days services in St. Paul, Superior, Wisconsin; and Edmonton, Alberta.

He opened a second tailor shop in Golden Valley but in 1964 moved to Los Angeles, where all his children, except Babe, had settled. The Shragg children have prospered in fields such as medicine, computer science, and library science.

At the time of his 80th birthday in 1975, Morris had 13 grandchildren and was still actively davening and tailoring.

This charming family history, available to researchers at the Kaplan Family History Center in our Lyle Berman Archives, is full of photographs, beginning in 1910 in Russia. A photograph captioned “The handsome soldier” shows Morris in uniform in 1917. There are pictures of family homes in north Minneapolis and family reunions throughout the years. The booklet is not only a tribute to Moshe Shragowitz, but is also the American story of a family that grew and prospered on the north side of Minneapolis.

Judy Sherman, JHSUM Volunteer

(reprinted from Fall 2008 Generations ) by Susan Hoffman

The Archive recently received a donation of materials from the Twin Cities Chapter of New Jewish Agenda (NJA), a national Jewish organization with a progressive, multi-issue platform—economic and social justice, women’s rights, nuclear disarmament, solidarity with South American liberation movements and most importantly, Middle East Peace. NJA employed a grass-roots organizing approach to social reform intentionally emphasizing Jewish values and identity.

The national organization was formed in 1980, and consisted of Jews across the religious spectrum, many of who has been in leadership positions in the anti-war, civil rights, feminist and gay rights movement. At its peak in the mid-1980’s, NJA had over 5,000 members, 40 state and local chapters and a rigorous education and advocacy agenda.

The local chapter was founded in the early 80’s and underwent a resurgence of interest in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. In 1990, membership topped 350. The collection contains a run of Shalom v’Tzedek (Peace & Justice) newsletters from 1988 to 1992, as well as flyers, news article reprints, membership materials and bulletins from national conventions. Members were involved in a wide range of activities: lobbying legislators to extend legal rights to domestic partners, anti-racism training, mobilizing support for a two state solution in the Middle East and the diversion of US aid to support peace activities in the West Bank and Gaza, support for United Farm workers grape boycott and end to “Star Wars” funding. The local NJA was part of a liberal coalition sponsoring peace education forums featuring national speakers such as David Dellinger, and much of the group’s focus was on progressive Zionism, NJA sponsored numerous Israeli speakers in the Twin Cities, including Army dissidents and feminist activists.

The national organization broke apart in 1993. The bulk of JHSUM Twin Cities Chapter collection covers 1989-1991. There is an interesting article by an NJA activist that addresses the question of why the national organization closed down when it did. You can find it at at the link to Ethan Bloch. Many of the original and long time members of the local chapter are still here in the Twin Cities.

(reprinted from Spring 2008 Generations ) by Judy Sherman

It has been difficult to choose one item as the best of the archives this time. So many intense and moving essays, some as first-hand letters home, were written by those men and women who served in the Second World War and contributed to JHSUM for our exhibit and program on those veterans. And yet one of the most meaningful collections came from the family of Annie Ginsburg, a woman who did what seems like a mundane and ordinary job. Miss Annie Ginsburg was an English teacher, and later a principal, in the St Paul public schools, from 1922 to 1956. But she did so with extraordinary effort, care and love, and earned the respect and love of her students and colleagues.

Annie Ginsburg earned a Masters Degree in 1926 from the University of Minnesota, writing her thesis on “A Technique for the Administration of a Large-Scale Campaign for the Improvement of the Mechanics of English Composition”. This is not a very romantic topic. But how important it is, especially for the generation of immigrants in school then, and now, with the schools struggling to comply with No Child Left Behind testing programs today. Annie kept writing, authoring workbooks and textbooks for junior and senior high school students to teach them to write clearly and accurately. Maybe many of you used these very workbooks, as they were adopted by many school systems.

Annie was a teacher at Mechanic Arts High School, and later was appointed a principal at Maxfield, Phalen Park and Franklin Schools. She had attended Franklin as a young child. When she retired as principal of Franklin in 1956 the faculty at the school paid tribute to her kindness, fairness and effectiveness as a principal. Students at the school, remembered her for “inner beauty”, for understanding and interest, particularly in those who were labeled “problems”. She promoted the school library and encouraged her students to read a lot. Her love and concern for the students in her care shines through the letters and testimonials written on the occasion of her retirement.

But Annie was not only a teacher and principal. She was a trustee of the Friends of the St Paul Public Library, active in the Jewish Education Center, Hadassah and the Jewish Home for the Aged, among other organizations. .She was honored by the Jewish National Fund on her eightieth birthday in 1967 by having a special grove of trees planted in her honor in Israel. At the recognition dinner former students, now older adults, came forward to remember her good influence on their lives. The collection about Annie, contributed to our archives by her nephew Don Mains, contains many clippings, letters, and personal reflections and memories, honoring Annie and keeping her alive for us. Maybe because I am a former teacher, and know how difficult and sometimes thankless the profession can be, that it was a thrill for me to read about her life and how she is remembered in the community.

(reprinted from Spring 2007 Generations ) by Judy Sherman

In the 1920s Peter Markus lived in Minneapolis and enjoyed hunting and fishing. Too often in the newspapers he read about boaters and fishermen who could not swim and drowned without a life preserver. Old-style life jackets were too bulky and uncomfortable to be worn by active sportsmen, so Markus tinkered with the idea for a garment that was light and easy to wear but that could be a lifesaver when needed.

Markus’s life vest, now familiar to airline passengers as well as boaters and pilots is flat and light but can be inflated almost instantly by pulling a cord, which releases carbon dioxide from a cartridge. Markus was experimenting with the device at an inland boating event when the Navy became aware of it and slowly began to equip its sailors. During World War II, the Navy, the RAF and other Allied troops used them routinely, calling them “Mae West” in honor of the vaudevillian’s buxom figure.

JHSUM board member Norman Pink, whose great uncle was Peter Markus, donated a very old but apparently functional Mae West life vest that probably dates to World War II or before. Bill Wolpert, also Markus’s great-nephew and a JHSUM board member, recently shared more of the story of Markus’s lifesaving invention.

Pick of the Archives
(reprinted from Fall 2006 Generations ) by Judy Sherman

Leonard “Butch” Levy was a smart guy, but he was renowned for his athletic talent. And so was his wife Lucky. His story and that of Lucky and their family typify a theme the JHSUM has been exploring—that our job is to collect stories and pass them on so that everyone sees that they are also part of the big story called history. Our focus on World War II makes the Levy collection, recently donated by son Peter, even more relevant.

Born in 1921, Butch attended West High School, excelling in football, baseball, hockey, and wrestling. While enrolled at the University of Minnesota he was a National Collegiate Athletic Association heavyweight wrestling champ for two years running and quit undefeated. He was also champ of the Amateur Athletic Union of the U.S. in 1941. His football career was just as distinguished. He played right guard on the U. of M.’s 1940 national champion football team. He was also chosen to play in the 1942’s College All-Star Game in Chicago, after which he was drafted in the first round by the L.A. Rams. He graduated from the University in 1942 with an economics degree and a political science minor. Three days later he was in the Navy.

Loretta, or “Lucky,” as she was called in America, was born in 1924. Her father Julius Bellman was a merchandise manager for a chain of Berlin department stores, and the family was comfortably off. With Hitler’s rise to power the family fortunes inevitably suffered. In her memoirs Lucky recalled that her former friends not only shunned her but also threw rocks. She transferred to a Jewish school, but was not able to continue her beloved dance lessons although she competed in Jewish intramural sports and showed great talent in track events. As the situation grew more grim, her brother Peter, who was one year older, was sent to Britain on a children’s transport. The rest of family was finally able to leave in 1939, just about one week before Germany invaded Poland. Wrote Lucky about sighting the Statue of Liberty, “I cry every time I see it…and every time I talk about it.”

The family settled first in New York and then in Minneapolis. Julius first sold stockings door-to-door but later found a job in a furniture store. Lucky recalled feeling embarrassed at the clothing she first wore on dates because it was always “wrong.” She soon got it “right,” because Butch fell in love with her. They were married in January, 1944.

With Peter’s arrival in 1940 the family was reunited, but not for long. Peter enlisted in the army in 1941. He was killed in the Battle of the Bulge. Jean Bellman’s brother, two sisters, and their families also did not survive the war.

Butch served 44 months in the Navy, but he was stationed in California. Afterward he began playing for the LA Rams and later the LA Dons. In the off-season he wrestled professionally traveling between 1946 and 1955 as far as New Zealand. He furthered his career by brazenly challenging better-known professional wrestlers to matches.

He and Lucky returned to the Midwest in the mid 1950s, where Butch worked for more than 40 years as an insurance agent and securities salesman. He served as chair of Twin City Opportunity Industrialization Center and was on the board of the Minneapolis Urban League.

Lucky’s story, as is usual with women of her era, is a bit harder to discern. There is a photo of her at a sewing machine in the late 1940s, so we must assume she was practicing housewifery. She was a beautiful woman and had many friends. They commented that she was a superb athlete and taught classes in exercise and yoga. She and Butch raised three children, fine athletes all—one of whom they named Peter. In later years they were blessed with eight grandchildren. Lucky died in 1997 and Butch in 1999.

With its intertwining of humor, valor, and tragedy, this is a fine example of a World War II-era “His Story” and “Her Story.” It truly is an “Our Story” as well, because the trajectory of their lives was quite common—education, then service in the armed forces, marriage, homemaking, trying out several careers and settling on one, raising children, and finding volunteer outlets. It was common, and as with each individual story, it was also uncommon in its specificities. Both Butch and Lucky were talented athletes. But Lucky, as with most women let alone refugees, had no way to develop her talents to the fullest. Lucky and her family suffered as all refugees do because they didn’t know the language and customs and had to start at the bottom of the economic ladder. And even though they escaped, they left family behind who perished. Their son Peter’s death in battle was particularly shattering, according to Lucky.

This is a wonderful World War II “Our Story,” and now the JHSUM is waiting for “Your Story.” Give us a copy of your memoirs or consult us if you are planning to write them. Remember, everyone makes history, but it is the unique mission of the JHSUM to make sure that it is passed on to future generations.

(reprinted from Fall 2005 Generations ) by Judy Sherman

How many of you have a bundt pan in your kitchen? In case you don’t recognize the name, it’s the heavy aluminum cake pan with curved sides and a hole in the middle. You may have a new-fangled non-stick modern imitation, perhaps made of heat-resistant silicone rubber. Did you know that the classic bundt pan originated over fifty years ago in Minneapolis at the instigation of local Hadassah members Rose Joshua and Fanny Schanfield?

As Fanny Schanfield tells the story, at a Hadassah luncheon in the early 1950s Rose Joshua lamented the lack of substance in the light, fluffy, American-style cakes that women in those days were proud to bake. Why couldn’t someone bake the proper, rich, substantial cakes she remembered from her European childhood? Rose had her mother’s kugelhopf cake pan, but such a pan was not available in America.

Mrs. Joshua’s husband approached H. David Dahlquist, the proprietor of the Nordic Ware aluminum bakeware company, and young Hadassah members Fanny and Rose met with him to show him the prototype for the pan. Some months later a dozen pans were delivered to Hadassah member Mary Juster’s porch. These pans were “seconds”, and it was suggested that Hadassah sell them to members for $4.00 apiece.

Rose, Fanny and other Hadassah women experimented with the pans. In that day of cake mixes, the pans were not easy to use. They needed to be tempered and well-greased, and the cakes needed to be rich, heavy and sturdy. It was all too easy for the cake to stick to the pan or collapse into a heap of delicious crumbs. Recipes were developed by the Hadassah ladies, and the bundt cake became a classic.

Hadassah members sold the original consignment of pans, and asked for more. The cakes were (and still are) a hit at meetings, buffets, brunches and parties. Bundt pan sales became a regular fund-raiser for the chapter. The Nordic Ware Company had its first big commercial success. In the 1960s Dahlquist asked the Pillsbury Company to develop a cake mix especially for a bundt pan. Teflon-coated pans were developed that were easier to use.

The well-baked bundt cake stays fresh and tasty and travels well to bring to events from picnics to shiva calls. Recipes were developed that used cake mixes (remember “pudding cake” and “monkey ball bread” made with “Poppin fresh” dough, butter and cinnamon). and the cakes appeared at church suppers too. Every serious cook needs a bundt pan as part of her kitchen equipment.

When this writer came to Minneapolis as a young bride my husband’s aunt Mary Juster presented me with a bundt pan, and I bought several others to give to friends for shower gifts. I still own the pan and use it when I feel like making a really special cake.

H. David Dahlquist died in January, 2005. His obituary notices included the story of the bundt pan, still made by Nordic Ware. Recently Fanny Schanfield presented the Jewish Historical Society with an “original” bundt pan, and her story of how the pan was developed. We are delighted to have this homey, historical artifact as part of our collection.

(reprinted from Fall 2004 Generations ) by Judy Sherman

We recently acquired some coloring books for young Hebrew students created in the late 1940s by Leah Bernstein. Leah was a remarkable woman. She taught piano lessons to several generations of children, among many other accomplishments. We also have in our archives a copy of her autobiography, Leah For Freedom… For Love…, printed in 1986.

Her life story is inspiring. Leah was born in Russia to parents who, although not rich in material goods, loved music and art. As a young girl, she learned to play the piano by ear and to dance well enough to perform. The family came to Minneapolis just before the immigration gates crashed shut in 1924. Leah and her beloved sister went to school in North Minneapolis, where her musical and artistic talents were recognized and encouraged. Helped along by scholarships and her own steely determination, Leah became an accomplished pianist and composer.

But tragedy dogged the family. Her parents did hard, menial work, and her mother became increasingly mentally ill. Her sister died of leukemia, and her father had to move to Chicago to find work. Leah, newly married to Minneapolis Talmud Torah teacher Pincus Bernstein, was found to be suffering from tuberculosis and was hospitalized for a year. Although she was not able to have children of her own, her piano students became her family.

Leah’s energy and versatility were amazing. To help Pincus, she used her artistic talent to put on shows for the Jewish holidays and drew the charming and idealistic Zionist-then-led coloring books in our collection. She also took up sculpture with great success. Meanwhile she continued to perform piano concerts and keep up a challenging repertoire. During World War II anxiety about the fate of Pincus’s family in Europe kept her awake at night, so she worked in an aircraft factory for a year to tire herself out. She helped bring family members to America after the war, planted a garden, acquired several dogs, and was an enthusiastic swimmer. She continued to be a demanding and idealistic piano teacher. Several of her students went on to musical careers.

In her memoir, she describes the death of her difficult but beloved mother and then of Pincus, but does not dwell on sorrow. Her story is for the most part upbeat, even humorous. As she wrote this book in her golden years, she was still performing, sculpting, and keeping up with old friends. She was recognized by her community and honored by her students.

We have many interesting biographies and autobiographies in our collection. Many are inspiring stories of immigrants making the most of their opportunities in America. Among these, Leah Bernstein’s story, in her own cheerful energetic voice, is a standout.

(reprinted from Spring 2004 Generations ) by Judy Sherman

Victoria Levy Greenberg has given us a collection of family pictures, mainly of her son Maurice and her daughter Marcelle, as they grew up in Cairo, Egypt. The family was of Greek origin but had lived in Egypt since the late 19th century. Victoria and her husband Jacques left Egypt for England when King Farouk was overthrown. When her husband died in 1985, she came to Minnesota to join her children, who unfortunately have both since passed away.

Like many middle to upper class Cairenes, these Jewish Egyptians spoke French, sent their children to French schools and lived according to French customs and manners. The photographs show the children at school and family scenes at the beach or posed in front of ancient Egyptian relics. The affection between Victoria and her children is obvious in these pictures, which are at the same time familiar and exotic. They reveal what appears to be a prosperous, secure Jewish community in Egypt in the 1940s. We are grateful to Mrs. Greenberg for sharing her happy memories with us.

(reprinted from Fall 2003 Generations ) by Judy Sherman

Nahum Kipnis recently delivered a remarkable collection of audio and video tapes, letters and transcripts recounting the histories and resettlement experiences of Russian immigrants to Minneapolis. Many of these people do not speak English well, and their interviews have been translated, or at least the summaries translated, so that we can share their journeys and their reactions to life in the United States.

As one can imagine, some of their stories are heartrending accounts of escape from Gestapo executioners and the murder of family members. Some are less dramatic but still unnerving. Interviewees tell of being denied job opportunities or learning that their children were not accepted at universities because, no matter how hard they tried to “pass” as ordinary Russians, their passports identified them as Jews. Many endured years of harassment and discrimination before attempting to leave Russia. Usually, the final impetus to emigrate was to give their children better opportunities to be educated and to prosper.

Supporting our troops is, alas, news once again.

All of the subjects are senior citizens who immigrated between 1978 and 1995. Some first went to Israel or initially landed in other cities in the United States. Some have been able to support themselves, although often in menial jobs unlike their previous professional occupations. Since many emigrated as older adults they speak little English and feel somewhat isolated. Several have become quite proficient, however, and one elderly woman proudly wrote an essay in excellent English. With pride they extol the educational achievements, financial success and status of their children and grandchildren. A few have become active in Jewish life, while some bemoan the distancing of their children from Judaism. Their comments about the local community and American life are varied and revealing.

Immigrant from the former Soviet Union at a welcome party, mid 1980s.

One of the great values of this collection is the preservation of the stories of people who lived through the Holocaust, the death of Stalin and the struggles of being Jewish in Russia. These are precious recollections of those who fought to start over again in America. We have heard similar stories before but not in the first person and not from this group of immigrants to our community. American-born Jewish readers of these transcripts can’t help but wonder if these would not have been our stories if our parents or grandparents had not come when they did.

We are grateful to Nahum Kipnis for undertaking this project while he was a board member of the JHSUM. It is a particularly valuable addition to our oral history collection.

(reprinted from Spring 2003 Generations ) by Judy Sherman

In recent months we have received three large collections which are particularly revealing of facets of our community and how concerns change over time.

Rabbi Theodore Gordon, the son of Dr. George Gordon, the first Director of the Minneapolis Talmud Torah, sent us a collection of Talmud Torah memorabilia including Education Committee reports from 1920-1936, correspondence and student lists from that period, programs, and yearbooks. Among the fascinating items is information on why students in the 1920s did not re-enroll (“frail child,” “left school to go to work,” “demoted”), lists of early Board members, and maps showing where students lived on the North Side. Included, as well is an interesting testimonial from the twenties: A student had been tempted by a bully to commit petty crimes but thanks to the influence of his Talmud Torah teacher his behavior improved, and he stuck to the straight and narrow. How this institution has changed and grown!

Rabbi Max Shapiro, Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Israel, has sent us much important memorabilia in the past. Recently he added to his collection with a box of letters, clippings, and writings including sermons and eulogies, and a scrap-book of photos and programs celebrating his twenty-fifth year at Temple Israel. There are letters to and from Hubert Humphrey and Humphrey’s funeral program from 1978. There are programs and proceedings from the Jay Phillips Center for Jewish Christian Learning at St Thomas, articles on marital counseling from the 60s and active aging from the late 80s. Most interesting are letters and publicity reflecting public concerns such as race relations, advertisements for “saunas” and “massage parlors” in the paper, and the necessity for treating the aged with dignity and respect by addressing them formally. These are concerns of our recent history, reflecting the role of a modern rabbi involved in his community.

From Shir Tikvah Congregation we received several boxes of papers which reflect the nature of this relatively new and liberal congregation. There are letters about fundraising, dues in arrears, ushers at services and other practicalities. There are song sheets and prayer sheets for children’s services. There are some beautiful certificates for Brit Milah, for naming baby girls, and a particularly moving conversion document. The congregational list contains many families of different composition from the traditional “Mr. and Mrs.” Of particular interest are mailings reaching out to post-confirmation congregants and recent high-school graduates away at college. This is the face of a Reform synagogue looking to the future.

(reprinted from Fall 2002 Generations ) by Judy Sherman

Leighton Siegel has given us a CD entitled “Ella Ostrin (1887-1960): Music and Family” which was restored from scratchy recordings made in 1948. We hear Ella, his grand-mother, playing “Hatikvah”, “Bicycle Built for Two” and two Russian songs on the accordion, as well as the voices of adults and children in the family. Leighton recalled that she loved music and taught herself to play the concertina when she was none years old. In Russia she played at weddings and other simchas. “In Minneapolis,” he reported, “she played for organizations and was still entertaining with her concertina in the last year of her life while living at the Sholom residence.” The picture on the liner notes shows us a grandmotherly figure with her instrument in a homey setting typical of the 1940s.

Ruth Davis has contributed a large collection of clippings, photos and personal recollections about Jewish Girl Scout groups, including troop lists, personal notes and letters. Ruth Davis organized the Adath Jeshurun Girl Scout troop 194 and received national recognition as a leader on local, regional and national levels, including a scholarship to attend the 1947 national encampment in New York State. Among other women recognized as leaders in scouting are Marjorie Mandel, Bernice (Bunny) Cohen, Helen Braude, Yetta Cram and Sonia Tapper.

If you (or your mother or your daughter) were a Girl Scout in Minneapolis, at Willard, John Hay or Burroughs School, or at Adath Jeshurun, Beth El, Mikro Kodesh or Temple Israel, among others, you may find yourself in uniform, complete with neckerchief tie. In any case you will recognize the names and faces in this smile-invoking collection.

Mrs. Davis also contributed a diary, accompanied by photographs, written in 1927 by Paulette Weil Fink when she went camping as a sixteen-year-old French Girl Scout. There is an English translation of part of the diary which reveals the emotions, rivalries and aspirations of the teenage years.

(reprinted from Spring 2002 Generations ) by Judy Sherman

Charles Frisch has contributed some fascinating materials collected by his father, Leo Frisch, who was among other things the long-time editor of the American Jewish World. The collection includes early letters and publicity supporting Zionism and Israel, including a 1946 efforts by the Minneapolis American-Christian Palestine Committee, and the James G. McDonald Mass Meeting for Palestine, June 27, 1946. There are publications and brochures, telegrams and letters supporting Zionism and the early State of Israel, beginning with a Keren Hayesod publication from 1926 and “Builders of the Homeland” biographies and portraits. These materials illustrate support for Zionism in the wider community.

On a less serious note, there arc souvenir programs from synagogue events from 1914 to the 1970s, and programs, commemorative books and publicity items from the Standard Club and its predecessor, the Gymal Doled Club. This varied collection demonstrates Leo Frisch’s wide interests and community involvement.

We recently received from Bill Wolpert a collection of anti-Semitic materials from the 1930s which is both interesting and terrifying. There are brochures from the “American Christian Movement” associating Jews with communists, misquoting dubious “Jewish” sources threatening the “American Way of Life,” smearing President Roosevelt because of Jewish members of his government, “exposing” Jews in the movies, and otherwise claiming Jewish plots and misdeeds.
This material is so naive and dated that it would be funny if it weren’t so virulent and threatening. Bill found this collection on e-Bay and thought it was important for us to own it, both as historical documents and to remind our-selves that as a community we must be eternally vigilant against the lies and smears of hate groups.

(reprinted from Fall 2001 Generations ) by Judy Sherman

Meyer Papermaster donated a photo album put together by his mother when she was Bessie Bank commemorating her summer employment as a play-ground supervisor at Sumner Field in North Minneapolis in 1919, and 1920. It’s a charming evocation of city park life, with candid photos of children and teenagers, and group photos of the City Champion Volleyball and Junior Kitten Ball teams. There are programs of events such as a July 5, 1920 “Sane Fourth Celebration,” which included a Kiddy Car Race, a boxing match and a community sing. Bessie clipped and saved newspaper items and photos describing a pie eating contest, a doll buggy parade, and a “Marshmallow Chew.” The hand-bound album is in surprisingly good condition, and the photos are still vivid with most of the subjects identified.

Charlene Newburg donated a large collection of photos and mementos documenting the history of the Agrant (and Obstfeld, Leibowitz, Chasnoff and Brown) family of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, primarily from the 1890s to the 1930s, many of them collected by her aunt, Jeanette Agrant. Particularly interesting are early photos of family members and scenes from Sioux Falls. Jeanette’s father had a thriving jewelry store during the time when Sioux Falls was the quick-divorce Reno of its day.

(reprinted from Fall 2000 Generations ) by Judy Sherman

This newsletter will highlight two fine small collections we have received. The first is from Larry Greenstein and consists of news clippings and campaign literature that chronicles his father Joe Greenstein’s decade as Fifth Ward Alderman. He fought for better street lighting, better schools in his ward, and he attended to his varied constituency. Greenstein, once known as “Pumpkin Joe” started a tradition of giving pumpkins away, and, its peak, he gave away over 10,000 a year.

The other collection is music that Cantor Louis Braverman wrote and there are both Hebrew and Yiddish selections. Braverman was cantor at Adas Israel synagogue where he directed a male choir. According to former pupil Lionel Davis, he also “was the guiding spirit behind the Hazomir choir.” We are thankful to his descendants and donors, Dr. Michael Braverman and Laurie Savran.

(reprinted from Spring 2000 Generations ) by Judy Sherman

The North Side project has greatly enriched our archives, adding wonderful photos and mementos to our collection. But among the most exciting additions are the oral histories, on tape and in transcription, bringing first-person recollections that keep alive the community that once existed there. Listening to the tapes, to the voices of the participants, brings back a world that has vanished. Earl Schwartz’s recollection of the small minyan, Naomi Kastenbaum’s story of her family home, tales of the Labor Zionist movement, of the role of women, of the centrality of the Talmud Torah in forming the identity and intellectual life of its students, of the work and synagogue centered life of the first-generation parents all these are preserved eloquently through loving memories.

Some of those interviewed are lively, articulate and eloquent, some are aged and hesitant, but all of these tapes form part of the picture of a unique and special community. It is fascinating to listen to the interaction between the interviewer and the person being interviewed. Sometimes there is a direction and thrust to the conversation, and sometimes it seems to find its own direction, as some topics are welcomed and others seem to be avoided. The interviews tell us not only about the time and place being discussed but also—often advertently—they tell us something about the participants.

(reprinted from Fall 1999 Generations )

Abe Sperling was a saver. He saved his army certificates and letters from Chinese colleagues during World War II. He saved material about his wife Frieda’s academic and volunteer accomplishments. He even saved his parents’ memorabilia—tax statements, deeds, marriage certificates and citizenship papers. Pictured here is a receipt for the time purchase of a piano, that powerful symbol of the middle class that so many Jewish families aspired to join.

(reprinted from Fall 1998 Generations )

Never Give Up was the name of Harry Goldie’s favorite poem. A South Side boy, Goldie was a member of the Atlas Club. He boxed at the University of Minnesota and even worked as an instructor. In 1916 he and his wife Ethel honeymooned in a tent pitched on land behind what later became the Calhoun Beach Club. Goldie ran a training camp for boxers on the land. For a time, he also sold life insurance, but his real love was real estate.

His longest-lasting real estate deal involved the building and opening of the Calhoun Beach Club. Begun in 1928, it was nearing completion when the stock market crashed. The building stood empty; its only tenants were pigeons. In 1940, club members developed plans to complete it, but our country’s entry into World War II meant that materials were scarce. Finally in 1946, the building opened with great fanfare. According to Goldie’s daughter Maxine Smiley, her father wanted to build a club that would be an asset to the total Minneapolis community. He felt that this club would help decrease the anti-Semitic structure of the city because it welcomed both Jews and Christians. It was Goldie’s vision and perseverance that helped open the bronze doors of the Calhoun Beach Club in 1946.

(reprinted from Winter 1998 Generations )

This photo of a group of earnest men was given to us by Jeannette Rabinovitz together with many other interesting photos. Her father, Louis Levi, was a St. Paul cap maker and a member of Workmen’s Circle.

Workmen’s Circle or Arbayter Ring was a fraternal socialist organization founded in the early 1890s in New York to provide social and cultural activities in a Yiddish-speaking environment. Its other function during a period of weak or non-existent unions was to provide benefits to workers.

The St. Paul branch was founded in 1910 and once occupied club rooms at 14th and Canada Streets. It never appeared as strongly socialistic as the parent organization in New York, and, beyond card playing, its main activity was providing sick benefits and insurance.

The Workmen’s Circle Loan Association was founded in 1920. It was independent of Work-men’s Circle, although St. Paulites often belonged to both. The group was a co-operative, and immigrant help was its aim. It made a pool of money available to Jews who needed loans to tide them over, such as money to feed a horse during the slack winter months. The loan association existed at least until the early 1990s, although by then its clients were no longer Jewish.