Jacob, Irene
Interview Date
November 16, 1999
Respondent Horticulturist, born 1928.
[T1S1] Respondent provides background information: father, Ludwick Lothenthal, mother, Johanna Lothenthal, lived in Hamburg, Germany; gives names of 2 siblings; life normal until Adolph Hitler came into power: 1938; father, insurance broker, mother, homemaker; observant home: revolved around Jewish life, attended synagogue. Respondent describes early years: attended Jewish school in Hamburg, family move to London, 1938, sent to boarding school, notes all possessions left behind in Hamburg; home life close, times difficult. Respondent describes home near Regents Park, London: 11 people in small house, neighbors unfriendly; comments on father's garden; active in gymnastics, played violin and tennis; completed high school, notes first job: secretary for Friends of Hebrew University, London, comments on move to Israel: age 19, brother already there; worked as social worker with Arabs. Respondent discusses founding of State of Israel: 1948, observed it from beginning; remained in Israel 10 years; describes meeting Rabbi Walter Jacob in Rome; reflects on courtship and marriage: occurred quickly; had not seen each other in 22 years, married in London, moved to Pittsburgh, PA; found different life in America: more sophisticated, not "down to earth."
[T1S2] Respondent describes experiences as wife of Reform Rabbi: different from her Orthodox background; discusses daughter's health problems and schooling at D.T. Watson Home: could only remain there until age 12; sheds light on establishment of Horizon House for children with problems, explains difficulties involved and purchase of house on Negley Ave.: first group house, now 12 houses in existence, comments on help given by Murray Levine; explains purpose: to keep ill children close to their families and offer respite care; beautiful surroundings; gives names of 2 sons. Respondent comments on Phipps Conservatory; docent at Carnegie Museum; work in greenhouse at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic; sheds light on starting Biblical Garden at Rodef Shalom Temple: started with plants of the Bible, garden has shape of Israel. Respondent gives name of book written on Biblical plants with husband: <i>BIBLICAL PLANTS, A GUIDE TO THE RODEF SHALOM BIBLICAL BOTANICAL GARDEN</i>, provides name of second book: <i>THE HEALING PAST, PHARMACEUTICALS IN THE BIBLICAL and RABBINIC WORLD</i>, names book now out of print: <i>GARDENS OF NORTH AMERICA and HAWAII</i>. Respondent explains gardens have ancient plants; open to public, describes generosity of people who contributed; plants have biblical names; describes various symposiums and exhibits held in garden: beer of ancient times, perfume, dyes, breads, textiles; publishes news letter. Respondent gives names of grandchildren; comments on preparation for summer garden; enjoys travel, plays several instruments, regrets not having learned to paint; describes business she owned for 20 years: Plant Hunter, plant maintenance and landscaping, did courtyard at Weinberg Terrace and front courtyard at Rodef Shalom. Respondent comments on different lifestyle for wives of Rabbi's today as compared to 40 years ago.
[T2S3] Respondent gives names of brother and sister in Israel: Eli, chemist, Ava, ophthalmologist; comments on grandfather: Benno Jacob, biblical scholar; notes father well established in London; comments on war: people changed, became more friendly; repeats information from previous tapes; explains first job in London: fund raising; describes work for Jewish Agency in London: obtained visas and passports for English politicians, repeats experiences in Israel in earlier years: pioneering experiences, camaraderie and adventure. Respondent elaborates on work as docent at Phipps Conservatory: no labels on plants, set up training program for docents, little turnover in personnel; explains reason for starting Biblical Garden: to show life of people years ago; adds to information on Horizon House: hurdles getting started, pilot program.
[T2S4] Respondent discusses newsletter, Papyrus, concerns itself with exhibits, shows extensive library on horticulture; mentions writing various papers and giving speeches; touches on visit to Rome with husband and Bishop Wuerl: Respondent and Rabbi only Jews. Respondent notes travels to exotic places to look for tropical plants; mentions teaching class with husband at Chatham College, describes experiences encountered as Rabbi's wife; adds information on marriage to Rabbi Jacob: engaged for 1 week, could not enter United States, arrived 6 weeks later; not accustomed to women working, few Rabbi's wives had jobs.
Biblical Botanical Garden (Rodef Shalom Temple (Pittsburgh, Pa.); Botany; Hamburg (Germany); Horizon House (Pittsburgh, Pa.); Horticulture; Jacob, Walter, 1930-; Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens; Synagogues; Rodef Shalom Congregation (Pittsburgh, Pa.); Author; Creative writing
Birth Date
Occupation (father)
Insurance broker
Length (hours)
Adelson, Ruth
Leyton, Hope
Berger, Betty
Collateral Materials
Box 102 FF 37
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