Jewish Heritage Collection: Oral history interview with Judy Kurtz Goldman

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Jewish Heritage Collection: Oral history interview with Judy Kurtz Goldman
Rosengarten, Dale, 1948–
Goldman, Judy
Judy Kurtz Goldman was raised in Rock Hill, South Carolina, the youngest of three children born to Margaret Bogen (Katzenellenbogen) and Benjamin Kurtz. The Kurtzes, who owned The Smart Shop, a women’s clothing store, were one of twelve Jewish families living in Rock Hill in the 1940s and ’50s. Although the family was observant and highly involved with the local Jewish community, they were fully assimilated into non-Jewish life, which, according to Judy, was not the case with all the Jewish residents in town. Benjamin was on the board of Guardian Fidelity, a mortgage company, and was a founder of the Rock Hill Country Club. Margaret put up Christmas decorations every December and their house was on the tour of homes one year. Judy attended Winthrop Training School, a K-12 school where Winthrop College’s student teachers trained. As a cheerleader and a member of the “in” crowd, she felt fully accepted. Judy discusses her siblings, family history, the saleswomen at The Smart Shop, and Mattie, the black woman who worked in the Goldman home and was a second mother to her. She recalls her feelings, as a child, when she observed the Jim Crow laws in action and their effect on Mattie. After college Judy taught for two years at Roosevelt High School in Atlanta, where she witnessed first-hand the start of integration in Georgia. She describes the response of the white students and her fellow teachers to events such as the end of segregation and the assassination of President Kennedy. Judy married Henry Kurtz, an optometrist who was practicing in Charlotte, North Carolina, a few miles from Rock Hill. Just prior to this interview, her first novel, The Slow Way Back, was published. She discusses the characters and the scenes in the story and the degree to which they are derived from her life. Judy notes that while she “felt more aligned with the gentile community” than the Jewish while growing up, in the process of writing her book, “I had sort of come back home again . . . into my Jewish skin. . . . I became comfortable with my Jewishness through writing the novel.”
Jewish Heritage Collection Oral Histories
Contributing Institution:
College of Charleston Libraries
Media Type:
Oral Histories
Personal or Corporate Subject:
Goldman, Judy, 1941–, Kurtz family, Bogen (Katzenellenbogen) family
Topical Subject:
Jews--South Carolina--Rock Hill--Interviews, Jews--South Carolina--Rock Hill--Social life and customs, Jews--Cultural assimilation--South Carolina--History, Jewish merchants--South Carolina--Rock Hill--History, Jewish merchants--South Carolina--Newberry--History, Jewish merchants--South Carolina--Denmark--History, Race discrimination--Georgia--Atlanta--History, Race discrimination--South Carolina--Rock Hill--History, African Americans--South Carolina--Relations with Jews--History, Jewish women authors--South Carolina, Jewish fiction--Women authors
Geographic Subject:
Lowcountry, Midlands, Upstate
Shelving Locator:
MSS 1035-225
Internet Media Type:
audio/mpeg; application/pdf
Digitization Specifications:
Mp3 derivative audio created with Audacity software. Archival masters are wav files.
Copyright Status Statement:
Digital resource copyright 2012, The College of Charleston. All rights reserved. For more information contact The College of Charleston Library, Charleston, SC 29424.