Butler, Donald
Interview Date
May 12, 1992
Butler, Donald, a publisher and ceremonial wine store owner, who is active in the Orthodox community; born, 1920.
[T1S1] Parents' names, immigrations to U.S. and relatives in Pittsburgh are indicated. Respondent's home and religious life as youth is characterized. Mother's community activities are related. Locations of Respondent's religious and secular educations are specified. Erudition of Rabbi Kaplan and quality of Respondent's Jewish education are assessed. Location and facilities of Hebrew Institute are noted. Family religious observances in Respondent's adolescence are indicated. Courtship of wife is reported. Prestige of wife's family's history in Palestine is noted. Involvement and qualifications of wife at Hebrew Institute are related. Locations and duties of Respondent's military service in Africa during WWII are enumerated. Religious services in Army are noted. Respondent recounts attempt to become army chaplain.
[T1S2] Respondent's duties as assistant to chaplain in Oran are outlined. Food and accommodations on troop ship are indicated. Prominence of Respondent's friends in North Africa during WWII is illustrated. Observance of Oran Jews is expressed. Respondent's friendship with Oran Jew is illustrated. Duties and benefits as chaplain's assistant are related. Friendship of wealthy woman for Respondent in Oran is related; Respondent's later telephone call to woman's grandson is recounted.
[T2S3] Respondent recounts assistance given to Jewish children in Italy during WWII. Reaction to Rabbi Zolli's conversion to Catholicism is expressed. Circumstances for, and labor in, building a synagogue outside of Rome are recounted. Nazis' reprisal against Jews in Rome is indicated. Transportation of displaced Jews by the Jewish Brigade through Italy to Palestine after the war is recounted. Respondent's duties as chaplain's assistant in Italy are enumerated. Respondent recounts correspondence on behalf of war refugee and reads letter from refugee's wife. Locations of first post-war kosher restaurant and Ashkenazi chapel in Rome are specified.
[T2S4] Respondent recounts procuring food for the Sabbath meals of refugees. Naturalization and induction of refugees is indicated. Respondent's assistance with inducted refugee's Army assignment is recounted; circumstances of their later reunion are recounted. Respondent reiterates post-war military duties in Rome. Respondent illustrates the character of Israel Zolli, the Chief Rabbi of Rome who converted to Catholicism. Business acumen of vendors at Vatican is noted. Reaction to Zolli's conversion is discussed. Zolli's background is related.
[T3S5] Authorization for and route of R's visit from Rome to Palestine during WWII are indicated. Religious service and pickpockets in Cairo are mentioned. Activities in Palestine are extensively enumerated. Gift brought to G.I.s from journey is specified. Living conditions in Palestine are described; amiable relations between Jews and Arabs are reported. Respondent reports work printing theater programs prior to WWII. Size and decor of Nixon Theater are indicated. Cost and arrangements for patron parking are described. Cost of advertising in theater programs is specified. Gimmick for last program of the Nixon Theater is described. Respondent explains avoidance of involvement in actual printing. Ownership of Nixon is outlined; financial burdens on the performing arts are summarized. Respondent's clients are enumerated. Respondent mentions purpose for contemporary programs advertisements and explains the demise of theater program business. Respondent's purchase, the distribution and cost of <i>This Week in Pittsburgh</i> are discussed. History and cost of <i>Pittsburgh Magazine</i> are discussed. Necessity for public support of culture is assessed. Respondent's involvement in Pinsker's wine store is recounted.
[T3S6] Respondent's and brother's management of Pinsker's is evaluated. Respondent's present to patron is recounted. Sale of Pinsker's is reported. Respondent's current patrons are extensively enumerated. Support of Pittsburgh's Convention Center is expressed. Individuals who organized Pittsburgh's Jewish Youth Council are specified; Respondent expresses shock of Chicago convention in 1930s. Respondent reports size of Pittsburgh's Orthodox community. Pre-war secretive collections for Palestine are recounted. Founders of Hillel Academy are enumerated. Origin of name and novelty of school are expressed. Location of Hillel Academy and size of first class are specified. Solicitation for enrollment and means to raise funds are noted. Promotion for Sigmund Romberg is recounted; arrangements for Romberg's transportation during taxi strike are related. Remuneration and work as tour press agent for Romberg are outlined.
[T4S7] Content of, use of and motivation for Respondent's collection of prayer books is indicated. Respondent relates history of WWII French prayer book. Extent of Respondent's Jewish library is noted. Respondent reiterates explanation of birth in foundling home and enumeration of activities as youth. Respondent names theaters in Pittsburgh in 1930s. Respondent mentions work and wages as Hebrew teacher for various organizations in 1940s. Respondent indicates changes in the backing and costs of the Pittsburgh theater business. Distribution of, advertisers in, and audience for Respondent's magazine, <i>This Week in Pittsburgh</i>, are reported. Respondent notes visit to Jerusalem synagogue where wife's ancestor was rabbi.
[T4S8] Respondent outlines wife's family's origins and business. Respondent's marriage is reported. Use of railroads by traveling theater shows is outlined. Rent in 1940s is specified; married residences are enumerated. Daughter's education is reported; judge for whom one of Respondent's sons clerked is characterized. Respondent describes ceremony surrounding the 1990 donation of a Sefer Torah in the Soviet Union. Respondent mentions evening with Shlomo Carlsbach. Youngest daughter's education and profession are noted. Wife's work at Jewish Education Institute is reported; children's birth dates and Jewish educations are reported.
[T5S9] Respondent's family vacations are reported. Respondent's organizational affiliations are enumerated. Respondent mentions judging United Jewish Federation's public relations campaign. Respondent's role on board of <i>Jewish Chronicle</i> is noted. Respondent reports future interest and satisfaction with life. Respondent discusses involvement and experiences with housing families of organ transplant patients. Respondent characterizes Pittsburgh and its Orthodox community. Composition of Poale Zedeck is discussed. Effect and size of day school attendance is mentioned. Jews' relationship with larger community is assessed.
[T5S10] Importance of acceptance to exclusive clubs is noted, as are Jews' contributions to community. Founders of, locations for, and talent used by Civic Light Opera are specified. Respondent comments upon location and costs of Pittsburgh theater. Interests shared with Rabbi Freehof are recounted. Lithographs inspired by Hebrew alphabet legend are discussed. Respondent recounts donating and subsequently borrowing theater memorabilia.
Hillel Academy (Pittsburgh, Pa.); Palestine; Publishers and publishing; Jews, Soviet; Synagogues; Congregation Poale Zedeck (Pittsburgh, Pa.); World War, 1939-1945; Zolli, Eugenio, 1881-1956
Birth Date
Pittsburgh, PA
Jewish Family & Children's Service
Hill District;
Length (hours)
Rubenstein, Judy
Kimball, Harold
Dinman, Gabrielle
Rubenstein, Kimball and Dinman
Collateral Materials
Box 100 FF 40
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