Respondent
Zecher, Albert D.
Interview Date
January 27, 1994
Abstract
Respondent general manager, <i>Jewish Chronicle</i>, born 1928.
[T1S1] Respondent provides names of parents: mother, Fannie Ainsman Zecher, father, Isaac Zecher; gives description of early life on Hill District and move to Squirrel Hill: 1937. Respondent describes schools attended: McKelvey School, Allderdice High School and University of Pittsburgh; entered Air Force, 1951: remained for 3 years; mentions Air Force base newspaper he published and provides information on other types of work. Respondent reflects on orthodox upbringing: notes mother enlightened orthodox Jew; comments on father's hard work upon arrival in America and opening grocery store on Murray Ave., after family move to Squirrel Hill. Respondent describes early childhood and conditions of Hill District: numbers writers, prostitution and poverty; describes Yiddish Theater and reflects on happy times; notes move to Squirrel Hill tremendous culture shock for Respondent; notes mother was his "best friend"; discusses death of both parents within months: 1967.
[T1S2] Respondent recounts meeting Rita Green at a young age, their courtship and marriage: 1952; mentions his interest in history, entered University of Pittsburgh for law, did not complete degree. Respondent gives background information on wife, born in Braddock, during depression years, parents lost jewelry business and struggled thereafter; reverts back to discussion of Hill District and notes many black Jazz clubs. Respondent describes Yom Kippur ritual performed by maternal grandmother "Kapporath" (removal of sins); comments on father's knowledge of holiday service, memorized entire service; rabbinical family background.
[T2S3] Respondent discusses marriage, wife's interest in music, her studies with voice teachers and position as cantorial soloist at Temple David, Monroeville, PA. Respondent provides names and and birth dates of 2 daughters and 1 son; details Temple David; Respondent. responsible for building temple and hiring Rabbi Jason Edelstein; gave rabbi full control of all matters pertaining to education and religion. Respondent notes 2 daughters now reform rabbis: Deborah and Elaine, gives names of spouses, their professions and names of grandchildren.
[T2S4] Respondent explains son-in-law, Dennis Roth, rabbi in Pittsville, MA; wife Deborah part time rabbi at Williams College; son-in-law, David Eisenberg, physician, teaches at Harvard, expert on Chinese medicine; wife Elaine assistant rabbi at Temple Israel, Boston, MA; credits Rabbi Edelstein for encouraging daughters to become rabbi's. Respondent describes son Steven as Orthodox Jew, names wife and describes their careers. Respondent reflects on work for Reuben H. Donnelly: advertising salesman; notes only Jew working for company; remained for 10 years, then offered position at <i>Jewish Chronicle</i>, started work, 1964; 4 months later became advertising manager; became successor to Al Golomb as business manager; notes animosity between Al Bloom, editor, and Al Golomb, notes becoming mediator between them.
[T3S5] Respondent reflects on reputation of American Jewish press: bordered on ridiculous, decided to try work at <i>Jewish Chronicle</i> for 1 year, remained for over 30 years; happy with decision, comments on relationship with Saul Weisberg: friend and mentor, contact person at United Jewish Federation, (UJF) worked well together. Respondent gives lengthy discussion on situations at Jewish Outlook and Jewish Criterion; UJF responsible for combining both to become <i>Jewish Chronicle</i>; gives background information on financial situations; notes UJF never paid for any subscriptions and contributed only minimal amount of money; <i>Jewish Chronicle</i> had to fund itself with outside money; became an arduous task. Respondent reflects on Bernard Kaplan's work with <i>Jewish Chronicle</i>: notes his outstanding work with the UJF, responsible for many existing agencies, comments "greatest man I ever knew." Respondent provides examples of issues <i>Jewish Chronicle</i> faced: publishing intermarriages and meetings held concerning this, solutions, various other issues. Respondent comments on difficulty negotiating with UJF when cost of publication became prohibitive: either give <i>Jewish Chronicle</i> money or allow it to sell subscriptions, problem resolved by paid subscriptions; <i>Jewish Chronicle</i> controls finances; notes purchase of present building. Respondent discusses Barbara Befferman's arrival at <i>Jewish Chronicle</i> as advertising clerk, saw great potential in her, notes 1 year after her arrival, Respondent. informed board of directors she would become his successor. Respondent discusses 1<sup>st</sup> heart attack, 1991.
[T3S6] Respondent reflects on other situations occurring at <i>Jewish Chronicle</i>: articles that should or should not appear; notes publishing Gerald Soroker's book <i>Fundraising For Philanthropy</i>, all money made on book given to <i>Jewish Chronicle</i> and charity. Respondent states "<i>Jewish Chronicle</i> has to reflect the Jewish Community"; operates on severe self-discipline, what it does can rebound to the good or the detriment of the community; <i>Jewish Chronicle</i> now standard of hallmark in the American Jewish press field; Respondent. asked by Jewish Federation of New York to become consultant for them, worked several weeks and paid high salary, gave it to <i>Jewish Chronicle</i>. Respondent reflects on work with Joel Roteman, excellent working relationship. Respondent notes becoming general manager with complete authority and Joel Roteman's appointment as executive editor.
Subjects
Jewish press; Jewish newspapers--United States; Befferman, Barbara; Bloom, Albert W.; Golomb, Albert; Hill District (Pittsburgh, Pa.); Jewish newspapers
Birth Date
1928
City
Pittsburgh, PA
Profession
General manager
Work
Jewish Chronicle
Occupation (father)
Grocer
Length (hours)
3
Interviewer1
Sachs, Sylvia
Interviewer2
Weiss, Selma
Indexer
Berger, Betty
Collateral Materials
Box 107 FF 31
Identifier
ais196440.505
Rights
All rights reserved. University of Pittsburgh