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Jewish Heritage: The Oral Histories - Cuba Family Archives

MEMOIRIST:               BETTY ANN JACOBSON  

INTERVIEWER:          MERNA ALPERT

LOCATION:                 ATLANTA, GEORGIA

DATE:                          FEBRUARY 15, 1988

                                    MARCH 8, 1988

                                    MARCH 29, 1988

Transcript (PDF)

BIOGRAPHY

Betty Ann Jacobson was born in 1926 in Atlanta, Georgia, to Rosalee and Sol Romm.  Her parents were both raised in Atlanta.  Betty is the youngest of two siblings.  Betty graduated from Girls High in Atlanta in 1944.  She attended the University of Illinois, earning a degree in journalism in 1948.  She grew up in both the Temple and Ahavath Achim.  Betty’s mother and grandparents were Orthodox.  Betty was confirmed at The Temple.

Betty has a long history of volunteer work and held numerous leadership positions.  She was the first woman president of the Atlanta Jewish Federation as well as its first woman Endowment Chair. She was President of the Atlanta Chapter of the Brandeis University National Women's Committee.  She held leadership positions with the American Jewish Committee, The Temple, the United Way of Atlanta, and Oakland Cemetery Historical Foundation. She was honored with countless awards, among them the Atlanta Jewish Federation Lifetime Achievement Award, YWCA Greater Atlanta Salute to Women, and B’nai B’rith Gate City Lodge.  She was devoted to her family and was a member of the PTA and a Girl Scouts leader. 

She and Harvey Jacobson married in 1951.  They have three children, Susan, Nancy, and Joe.  She and Harvey have many grandchildren. 

SCOPE OF INTERVIEW

Betty Ann Jacobson starts the interview talking about her parents who both grew up in Atlanta. She discusses her maternal grandparents coming to Atlanta from Russia in 1890.  She talks about her parents receiving an education in Atlanta.  She recounts that her grandmother had shopped at a kosher market in Atlanta and that her grandfather was one of the founders of Ahavath Achim orthodox synagogue.  She tells that her grandfather had a wholesale dry goods business, H. Mendel & Co., in downtown Atlanta, and was known throughout Georgia. 

She talks about coming from a large family and fondly remembers large the family gatherings at her grandmother’s house for holidays. She talks about having Christian friends but dating only Jewish boys. She relates that her family belonged to both the Temple and Ahavath Achim and mentions she was confirmed at the Temple. She remembers Rabbis David Marx and Jacob Rothschild from the Temple. She remembers Rabbi Harry Epstein from Ahavath Achim. 

Betty discusses her earliest volunteer work selling war bonds and poppies for the Jewish War Veterans.  She tells that volunteering was a family tradition and remembers her grandparents volunteering at Ahavath Achim as early as the 1930s.  She discusses going to the University of Illinois and graduating with her degree in journalism in 1948.  She talks about meeting her husband, Harvey, and their marriage in 1951. 

Betty discusses her lifetime of volunteer work with Jewish and non-Jewish organizations, such as the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and United Way.  Jewish organizations include National Council of Jewish Women, Sisterhood, Brandeis University, and Jewish Family Services.  She discusses achievements and challenges of being the first woman president of Atlanta Jewish Federation.  She describes sitting on a court appointed bi-racial committee for the desegregation of the Atlanta public school system with prominent black Atlanta leaders.  She talks about her involvement with Oakland Cemetery Historic Foundation.  She speaks modestly of the awards she has won.  She discusses her concern for Jewish organizations in Atlanta and the importance for all Jews to participate.  She discusses intermarriage between Jews and non-Jews.

She talks about her children, Susan, Nancy, and Joe, and their involvement with organizations. Betty talks about her husband, his support of her work, and their travels to Israel and Europe.

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