Oral Histories

Interview of Abe Davidson

Congregant of the Pasadena Jewish Temple and Center.
Series:
From Small Town Congregation to Suburban Survivor: Pasadena Jewish Temple and Center
Topic:
Community History
Interviewer:
Several, Michael
Interviewee:
Davidson, Abe
Persons Present:
Several and Davidson.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library's Center for Oral History Research.
Processing of Interview:
The interviews in this series were transcribed by a professional transcription service without names lists or other contextualizing materials. Once an interview had been transcribed, interviewer Michael Several briefly reviewed the transcript to make sure it was comprehensible but did not check spellings or compare the text to the original recording. The transcript was then sent to the interviewee to review, and the interviewee was asked to edit for accuracy and check spellings of proper names. Only a small number of the interviewees made any changes to their transcript, and, as a result, most of the spellings remain unverified.
Length:
1.36 hrs.
Language:
English
Copyright:
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Audio:
Series Statement:
In 1980, the late Eugene Fingerhut, a congregant at the Pasadena Jewish Temple and Center (PJTC) and a professor of American history at California State University, Los Angeles began interviewing elderly congregants with a focus on the history of the Pasadena Jewish community prior to World War II. After a twenty-year hiatus, Professor Fingerhut began a new series of interviews focusing on the post-World War II period. Upon his passing in 2006, PJTC named the oral history program the Eugene Fingerhut Memorial History Project in his honor. Shortly before Professor Fingerhut passed away, he brought Michael Several, who has written histories on a variety of subjects, into the project. Mr. Several has continued conducting interviews with the assistance of a team of PJTC congregants. Since 2007, video and digital audio recordings of the interviews have been made. Following the passing of Marilyn Fingerhut in 2011, the project was renamed the Eugene and Marilyn Fingerhut History Project. After reading that the UCLA Center for Jewish Studies was looking for partners for their "Mapping Jewish Los Angeles" project, Michael Several contacted the center and determined to donate the interviews to the UCLA Library Center for Oral History Research. These interviews focus on the history of the Pasadena Jewish community from the 1920s to the present. The interviews contain information about the institutional history of the synagogue, Jewish owned businesses, activities of the Jewish community during World War II, postwar suburbanization, anti-Semitism, Jews at the California Institute of Technology, Jewish education, experiences of Holocaust survivors, and the expanding role of women in the synagogue. The institutional history of the Pasadena Jewish community began in 1921 with the incorporation of Temple B’nai Israel of Pasadena. In 1942, the congregation moved from a small shul to its present location on North Altadena Drive. Following World War II, the congregation was renamed the Pasadena Jewish Temple and Center, reflecting the trend in the Conservative Movement that temples be community centers. In recent years, demographic changes in the western San Gabriel Valley has led to the disappearance of congregations in Sierra Madre, El Monte, Alhambra, and Arcadia. Through a series of mergers over a number of decades, culminating in 2009 with the merger of Shaari Torah in Arcadia with PJTC, the history of PJTC now encompasses the western San Gabriel Valley.