Hirsch, Burton L.
Interview Date
Respondent Mortician; born 1918.
[T1S1] Respondent provides names of grandparents and parents; notes grandfather, Louis Hirsch and his brother, Isaac Hirsch, published newspaper for German Jews in Pittsburgh.: <i>Volksblatt Freiesfreund</i>. Respondent notes grandfather served as City Councilman. Respondent gives name of father: Max Hirsch, owned radio supply outlet, helped establish radio station: KDKA. Respondent born in Homewood; moved to Squirrel Hill, attended Taylor Allderdice, Shadyside Academy, Washington and Jefferson College and Eccles College of Mortuary Science. Respondent comments on anti-Semitism at Taylor Allderdice and Shadyside Academy. Respondent explains decision to become a mortician. Respondent mentions great-grandmother among founders of Rodef Shalom Temple. Respondent gives name of wife: Ruth Leff; provides information on how they met; 2 children, Maxine and Loren.
[T1S2] Respondent comments on daughter; her marriage, divorce and career. Respondent details son's addiction to drugs and alcohol; comments on Dr. Abraham Twerski's help through Gateway Rehabilitation Center. Respondent explains his emotional response to son's problems and embezzlement of funds and comments on how son died. Respondent reflects on feelings after son's death. Respondent discusses presidency of Jewish Funeral directors of America, his establishment of counseling program and position as conference coordinator of Interdisciplinary Conference on Grief and Bereavement with Yeshiva University, NY. Respondent mentions son's death as motivation to help others deal with death of a child. Respondent gives Jewish background of himself and wife; discusses formation of Temple Sinai after WWII, how it came about. Respondent comments on changes in funeral customs; provides reasons. Respondent mentions his knowledge of Judaism: enhanced by role as funeral director.
[T2S3] Respondent recalls Army service: WWII; admission to Officer's Training School and position held. Respondent discusses early life: centered around family; strict parents, describes changes in Squirrel Hill, emergence of Forbes Ave. as area of fine shops. Respondent comments on hobbies and main interest: photography; lists boards on which he serves; expresses feelings about Israel.
[T2S4] Respondent discusses providing services to all branches of Jewish community; comments on providing dignity and helping families deal with stress; receives good feedback; notes Jewish law is Jewish law; some interpret it differently. Respondent recalls Pittsburgh. as youth: filled with pollution and dirt. Respondent comments on costs generated by government regulations of funeral industry. Respondent notes friendly relationship with competitor; comments on populations increasing longevity; recalls parents attitude towards his chosen profession.
Bereavement--Psychological aspects; Grief therapy; Drug abuse; Alcoholism; Undertakers and undertaking; Jewish Undertakers and undertaking of America; Synagogues; Rodef Shalom Congregation (Pittsburgh, Pa.); Temple Sinai (Pittsburgh, Pa.); Squirrel Hill (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
Length (hours)
Weiss, Selma
Engler, Eva
Berger, Betty
Collateral Materials
Box 89 FF 12
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