Selden K. Smith, a South Carolina native who taught history for nearly four decades at Columbia College in Columbia, South Carolina, talks about his role in the development of Holocaust education courses. He describes meeting local survivors and says of interviewer Lilly Stern Filler’s mother, “The most compelling person of all—it was all compelling—was Jadzia [Stern].” What started as an experimental course featuring presentations by survivors grew into a standard offering at Columbia College. Dr. Smith notes he was not involved in or even aware of the effort to create legislation that established the South Carolina Council on the Holocaust (SCCH) in 1989. However, he was appointed to SCCH in 1990. He credits Margaret Walden, who then worked for the South Carolina Department of Education, for much of the progress made with Holocaust education in the state. Among SCCH’s projects was a joint effort with South Carolina Educational Television to interview survivors and liberators, resulting in the publication of the teaching guide South Carolina Voices. The interviewee discusses the status of Holocaust education in South Carolina and suggests that the challenge is how to make it “relevant to one’s day and time.”
Ira Rosenberg was born in New York City in 1937, eight years after his brother, Monte, to Bessie Lipschutz and Alan Rosenberg. The family moved to Richmond, Virginia, in the early 1940s, where Ira grew up in the midst of a sizable Jewish community. The Rosenbergs were Orthodox but Ira says his parents “were not very active” in the local synagogue. However, Alan insisted Ira go to shul every Saturday morning and attend Hebrew school in preparation for his bar mitzvah. Ira is joined in this interview by his wife, Anita Moise Rosefield Rosenberg, originally of Sumter, South Carolina. They married in 1963 while Ira was serving in the United States Air Force. Ultimately, they moved to Charleston, South Carolina, where they raised their children, David, Virginia, and Mindelle. Ira describes his career as a pharmacist after he was discharged from the military in 1966. In the 1980s he changed professions and opened his own business as a realtor and real estate appraiser, Rosenberg & Associates. Ira and Anita discuss changes in Reform Judaism and in their synagogue, Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim. They talk about Rabbi Stephanie Alexander, KKBE’s first female rabbi, and the degree of acceptance extended to lesbian and gay members by the rabbi and the congregation. Anita recalls being on the national commission of a program begun in the 1970s by Rabbi Alexander Schindler, a former president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations. The program, called Outreach, was designed to encourage acceptance and inclusion of intermarried couples and their families. See also a follow-up interview (Mss. 1035-461) with the Rosenbergs, conducted on November 4, 2016.
Rosemary Smith and Keller Barron share their memories of South Carolina Democratic Senator Hyman Rubin (1913–2005), who was elected in 1966 and served for eighteen years. Rosemary, who grew up in Nazi Germany, was the administrative assistant to the Senate Medical Affairs Committee that Rubin chaired. Keller was the research director for the Joint Legislative Committee on Aging, also headed by Rubin. Both women describe Rubin’s attributes and tell stories about his contributions to the city of Columbia and the state. He was a founding member of the Columbia Luncheon Club and the Greater Columbia Community Relations Council, both organized in the early 1960s to facilitate racial integration. The interviewees note that although the senator did not “wear” his Jewishness “on his sleeve,” he did decline invitations to attend functions at Forest Lake Club in Columbia, where Jews were not accepted as members. For related materials, see Hyman Rubin’s May 24, 1995, interview, Mss 1035-024, and Rose Rudnick Rubin’s May 5, 1996, interview, Mss. 1035-072.
In this follow-up to their June 23, 2016, interview (Mss. 1035-452), Ira and Anita Rosenberg talk about their children and grandchildren and how they observed Judaism as a family when the children were growing up. Ira notes that he was a co-founder of Dragon Boat Charleston, served on the boards of Charleston Jewish Community Center and Charleston Jewish Federation, and is a past president of Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim. He discusses the benefits of Jewish community centers, his thoughts on the recent transition of the local center to one without walls, and his feelings about the presence of Chabad in the area.
Lilly Stern Filler was born in Munich, Germany, in 1947 to Holocaust survivors Jadzia Szklarz and Ben Stern. The Sterns immigrated two years later to Columbia, South Carolina, where Gabriel Stern, Ben’s uncle and immigration sponsor, lived. This interview opens with Lilly describing a Stern (Szterenzys) family photo taken, presumably, in Poland when Ben was a little boy. Ben met Jadzia after the war through Jadzia’s brother Ben Szklarz, who was his bunkmate in the concentration camps. Lilly recounts how her parents were reunited with their siblings after the war and talks about her aunts, uncle, and cousins. The oldest of four, she shares memories of and thoughts about growing up as a daughter of survivors. After encountering antisemitism when trying to join a high school social club, Lilly’s involvement with Jewish youth groups intensified. She elaborates on what Judaism means to her, and what it means to have a Jewish home. The interviewee recalls meeting her husband, Bruce Filler, a Rhode Island native, at Rusk Institute in New York City, where both were working as physical therapists. They married in 1972, moved to Massachusetts, earned graduate degrees, and in 1975 welcomed daughter Rachel before deciding to relocate to Columbia, where they opened their own practice, Columbia Rehabilitation Clinic. Sons Alex and Michael were born in 1978 and 1980. Four years later, Lilly, pursuing a long-held dream, started medical school at the University of South Carolina. She relates some of the issues she faced going to medical school and starting a new career as a woman in her thirties and forties, and as the mother of young children. She describes partnering with Richland Memorial Hospital to open Women Physicians Associates, an all-female OB-GYN practice. In 2000 Lilly followed up on an initiative her parents had started years before to erect a Holocaust Memorial in Columbia. She discusses how the project grew to include various members of the Columbia community, Jewish and non-Jewish. The monument, located in Memorial Park, was dedicated in 2001. The Columbia Holocaust Education Commission was established with surplus from the memorial fund and shared the same goals: “remember the six million . . . honor the survivors and the liberators . . . and educate South Carolinians about the Holocaust.”
Faye Goldberg Miller, born in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1938, talks about growing up on St. Philip Street, one of three children of Polish immigrants Jeanette Altman and George Goldberg. She explains why her father changed his name to Goldberg from Geldbart after arriving in the United States. George followed his brother Israel to Charleston and opened a men’s clothing shop on King Street. The family observed the Sabbath and the Jewish holidays and Jeanette kept a kosher kitchen. Despite encountering antisemitism from a few neighborhood children, Faye says she “had a wonderful childhood in Charleston.” Faye married Ivan Miller and they raised three children, Shira, Robert, and Bruce, in Columbia, South Carolina. She discusses the family business, Groucho’s Delicatessen, purchased in the early 1940s from the Rivkins by Ivan’s father, Harold Miller, with the help of Harold’s brother-in-law John Gottlieb.
Iris was born in the city of Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas, Mexico. Her grandmother served as her main caregiver because her mother worked full time and studied on the weekends. She suffered the absence of her mother, but from her she learned to strive for her goals. As a teenager, she was sent to Mexico City to study cosmetology. When she returned to her town, she fell in love and had her first child at seventeen. She had her own hairdressing and beauty business, but she aspired to a better quality of life for herself and her child. Excited by the stories of prosperity coming from the north, she decided to emigrate. She left her nine-year-old son with her sister and embarked on the difficult journey to cross the border. The crossing was plagued by situations of danger and abuse. Life in the United States was more difficult than she had anticipated, and her plans to reunite with her child took six years to complete. The reunion was fraught with difficulties and the family needed a lot of time and determination to heal their wounds. Iris’s son was at risk of deportation but, fortunately, he was able to apply for DACA and receive approval. Iris worked as a promoter in the PASOs program and currently continues to volunteer in the community and her parish.Nació en la ciudad de Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas, México en el año de 1972. Siendo niña estuvo al cuidado de su abuelita porque su madre trabajaba a tiempo completo y estudiaba los fines de semana. Sufrió la ausencia de su madre, pero de ella aprendió a luchar por superarse y lograr sus metas. Siendo adolescente se fue a vivir a la Ciudad de México para estudiar cosmetología. Cuando a volvió a su pueblo se enamoró y a los diecisiete años tuvo a su primer hijo. Tenía su propio negocio de peluquería y belleza, pero aspiraba a una mejor calidad de vida para ella y su niño. Entusiasmada con las historias de prosperidad que le llegaban del norte decidió emigrar. Dejó a su hijo de nueve años con su hermana y emprendió el difícil viaje para cruzar la frontera. El cruce estuvo plagado de situaciones de peligro y abuso. En Estados Unidos las cosas fueron más difíciles de lo que había anticipado y sus planes de reunirse con su niño demoraron seis años en cumplirse. El reencuentro estuvo plagado de dificultades y la familia necesitó mucho tiempo y trabajo para reparar las heridas. El joven estuvo a punto de ser deportado, pero afortunadamente pudo acogerse a los beneficios de DACA. Lopez trabajó como promotora en el programa PASOs, y actualmente sigue ofreciendo su trabajo voluntario en la comunidad y su parroquia.
In the second part of her interview, Margarita recalls the different places she’s worked since her family settled in the Lowcountry. Her first job was in North Charleston in a food processing facility, where she spent most of her working hour processing vegetables in a walk-in cooler. She withdrew from that position because she was pregnant and the long hours of work in the intense cold were affecting her health. After the birth of her baby, she got a job at Carolina Nurseries in Moncks Corner and was surprised by how many Mexican workers the company employed. Currently, she works with her husband in a landscape company. Upon arriving in the Lowcountry, Margarita and her family settled in a neighborhood located behind Midland Park Elementary. Margarita remembers with great affection the Midland Park teachers who, from the first school day, supported and encouraged her daughter and continued providing help, support, and encouragement throughout her time at school. Her daughter, a young DACA, is studying at the University of Delaware. Margarita reflects on the limitations she had as a mother to support her daughter in the process of applying for college and expresses the immense pride she feels for her daughter’s achievements.En la segunda parte de la entrevista, Margarita recuerda los distintos lugares en los que trabajó desde que se establecieron en el Lowcountry. El primero, fue en North Charleston en una cámara frigorífica procesando verdura. Se retiró de ese lugar porque estaba embarazada y las largas horas de trabajo en el frio intenso le estaban afectando su salud. Después del nacimiento de su bebe consiguió trabajo en Carolina Nurseries en Moncks Corner y se sorprendió de la cantidad de trabajadores mexicanos que la compañía empleaba. Actualmente trabaja con su marido en una compañía de jardinería. Al llegar al Lowcountry, Margarita y su familia se establecieron en un vecindario ubicado atrás de la escuela Midland Park. Margarita recuerda con mucho afecto a los maestros de esa escuela que desde el primer día apoyaron y alentaron a su hija y que a lo largo de su vida escolar la acompañaron y la ayudaron a encontrar recursos para progresar. Su hija, una joven DACA, estudia en la Universidad de Delaware. Margarita reflexiona acerca de las limitaciones que tuvo como madre para apoyar a su hija en el proceso de ingresar a la universidad y expresa el orgullo inmenso que siente por los logros de la joven.
Héctor was born San Andres Ixtlahuaca, Oaxaca, Mexico. In the interview, he talks about his land, the Trique culture and language, his work, and his love for basketball. Before arriving in the United States, Héctor followed the path of many young people from his region and emigrated to Mexico City in search of work and better opportunities. Just arrived in the big city, life was difficult because he had no acquaintances and did not speak Spanish well. Later, he got married and had three children. After separating from his wife, he returned to Oaxaca. Before long, he joined a group of people from his town who were planning the trip the north and crossed the border with them, arriving in California, where he worked in agriculture. He eventually settled in Moncks Corner, South Carolina. He started working at Carolina Nurseries and later obtained employment in the construction sector. His greatest passion is basketball. Héctor is the coordinator of the Hispanic League of Basketball that convenes numerous families in the area every weekend.Héctor nació en San Andrés Ixtlahuaca Oaxaca, México. En la entrevista habla acerca de su tierra, la cultura y la lengua trique, su trabajo y su amor por el basquetbol. Antes de llegar a Estados Unidos, Ramírez siguió el camino de muchos jóvenes de su región y emigró a la Ciudad de México en busca de trabajo y un mejor porvenir económico. Recién llegado a la gran ciudad sufrió penurias porque no tenía conocidos y no hablaba bien en español. Más tarde se casó y tuvo tres hijos. Después de separarse de su esposa regresó a Oaxaca. Al poco tiempo se unió a un grupo de gente de su pueblo que emprendía el viaje al norte y cruzó la frontera con ellos, llegando a California, donde trabajó en la agricultura. Finalmente, se estableció en Moncks Corner, Carolina del Sur. Comenzó a trabajar en Carolina Nurseries y posteriormente consiguió empleo en el rubro de la construcción. Su mayor pasión es el basquetbol. Héctor es el coordinador de la liga Hispana de Basquetbol que convoca cada fin de semana a numerosas familias del área.
Margarita was born in Santiago Juxtlahuaca in a very small town in the Sierra de Oaxaca, Mexico. Much of her childhood was spent in a shelter for children, where she suffered from the lack of family affection and from economic shortcomings. At sixteen, she went to live with her uncles in Mexico City and began working. "I was rebellious. I wanted to learn, to get out of poverty, to wear beautiful clothes," she recalls. When she returned to Oaxaca, she worked as a bilingual employee at a small local bank. She met a boy who was a seasonal worker in the United States, and they got married and had two children. Facing the scarcity of resources in Mexico, her husband decided to migrate again, and this time she joined him. They left their children with their mother-in-law and went to California to work in agriculture. They missed their children terribly and considered returning to Mexico, but in the end, they decided that it was better for the children to join them in the United States. Together they traveled and worked in different parts of the country until they finally settled in South Carolina.Margarita nació en Santiago Juxtlahuaca en un pueblo muy pequeño de la Sierra de Oaxaca, México. Gran parte de su infancia transcurrió en un albergue para niños donde sufrió la falta de afecto familiar y las carencias económicas. A los dieciséis años se fue a vivir con unos tíos a la Ciudad de México y allí comenzó a trabajar. “Era rebelde, quería aprender, salir de la pobreza, usar ropa bonita”. Cuando volvió a Oaxaca, trabajó como empleada bilingüe en un pequeño banco local. Conoció a un muchacho que trabajaba por temporadas en Estados Unidos, se casaron y tuvieron dos niños. Cuando la necesidad económica los apremió, el decidió volver a emigrar y ella se le unió. Dejaron los niños con su suegra y fueron a California a trabajar en la agricultura. Dado que extrañaban mucho a los pequeños pensaron en volverse, pero al final decidieron que era mejor que los niños se les unieran en Estados Unidos. Todos juntos viajaron y trabajaron en distintas partes del país hasta que finalmente se establecieron en Carolina del Sur.