Respondent
Kavaler, Mina
Interview Date
1999
Abstract
Respondent Teacher, born 1928.
[T1S1] Respondent provides background information: parents lived in New Kensington, Pa; notes first awareness about importance of community attributed to paternal grandfather; describes living with maternal grandparents in Oakland and attending synagogue with grandfather on Ward St. Respondent reflects on Tree of Life Synagogue and Hebrew school education, recalls maternal grandmother's involvement with Jewish community and influence on Respondent; describes affiliation with United Jewish Federation (UJF) at Schenley High School and work involved: served on board at 16; also on board of Young Men and Women's Hebrew Association (YMWHA): focus of social life. Respondent provides names of maternal grandparents: Esther and Max Kaiserman; gives names of paternal grandparents: Mina and Phillip Serbin and name of husband: Vigdor Kavaler; notes mother, Faye Serbin cashier at Montefiore Hospital gift shop, volunteered 30 years; explains grandparents arrival from Russia: had cousin in Pittsburgh. Respondent gives names of brother, his wife and children; provides name of son: John David, engaged to non-Jew, heartbreaking to Respondent; describes attendance at Rodef Shalom Temple; husband executive director; explains children's lack of interest in Judaism: not living close to home; comments on close friendship with Dr. Cyril Wecht and his family.
[T1S2] Respondent reflects on childhood: walking to Synagogue with grandfather and satisfaction derived from men praying; discusses Rodef Shalom Temple services: offended by men wearing "talit" (prayer shawl) and "kipa" (head covering) and inclusion of too much Hebrew in service. Respondent gives date of marriage: 1950; touches on teaching along with husband at Rodef Shalom Temple; describes move to McKee Place, remained there until marriage, notes lack of interest in learning Hebrew or becoming Bat Mitzvah; comments on mother's card playing skills and paying Respondent's tuition through winnings. Respondent describes service to community: inhibited in Jewish community status by lack of money, resentful feelings toward United Jewish Federation; describes work with United Way and National Council of Jewish Women; explains children unhappy by her volunteering; gives date of husband's death: January, 1996.
[T2S3] Respondent gives date of birth: 10/16/28; reflects on meeting husband at University of Pittsburgh, their courtship and marriage after graduation; mentions travels throughout the world; married over 45 years; notes first residence on Centre Ave. and husband's teaching position at University of Pittsburgh: economics, finance and international trade, also taught at Carnegie Mellon University. Respondent describes teaching at A. Leo Weil school; received undergraduate degree in sociology and economics at University of Pittsburgh, continued studies in education; discusses Blacks and prejudice and Pittsburgh board of Education, notes principal at A. Leo Weil school prejudiced against Blacks and Jews, remained there 3 years, transferred to Lincoln Elementary School; remained 30 years. Respondent comments on adopting twins: boy and girl; explains fertility treatment and numerous miscarriages before adoption through Jewish Family and Children's Service; her retirement for 12 years and return to teaching; mentions family vacations.
[T2S4] Respondent continues discussion of family vacations; gives name of daughter: Marti and schools children attended. Respondent comments on involvement with several organizations; discusses position with National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP): served as chairperson of education committee until Tim Stevens presidency: removed all white people from board; repeats discussion of Dr. Cyril Wecht's friendship with family; reflects on children: closer to son; gives background information on Vigdor's parents and mother's move to Pittsburgh.
[T3S5] Respondent discusses activities in high school and friendship with classmate: Andy Warhol; details teaching in black schools only; comments on Blacks and their lifestyle, elaborates on Andy Warhol; reminisces on social activities and dating.
[T3S6] Respondent notes greatest accomplishment: raising children to be kind; repeats discussions from previous tapes; feels "her children's world is different from hers"; discusses fears of son's marriage to non-Jew: children will not be raised Jewish, will also observe Catholicism. Respondent expresses contentment with happy upbringing, happiness with being Jewish and life in Pittsburgh.
Subjects
Education; Intermarriage; Kavaler, Vigdor W.; National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; Religious life--Attitudes; Synagogues; Rodef Shalom Congregation (Pittsburgh, Pa.); Wecht, Cyril H., 1931-
Length (hours)
3
Interviewer1
Leibowicz, Angela
Interviewer2
Nielsen, Minna
Indexer
Berger, Betty
Collateral Materials
Box 102 FF 54
Identifier
ais196440.231
Rights
All rights reserved. University of Pittsburgh