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Jewish Heritage: The Oral Histories - Cuba Family Archives

MEMOIRIST:                                      CATHEY STEINBERG  

INTERVIEWER:                                 JOAN PRESSMAN

LOCATION:                                       ATLANTA, GEORGIA

DATE:                                                APRIL 18, 2003

                                                           APRIL 23, 2003

Transcript (PDF)

BIOGRAPHY

Cathey Weiss Steinberg was born in 1942 to Stanley Marvin Weiss, Sr., and Miriam Weiss in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, where her family had a successful shoe store business.  Three of her four grandparents were born in the United States.  Her grandfather came from the Hungary-Romania area.  Her family belonged to a Conservative synagogue.  She went to Hebrew school and was confirmed.

Cathey received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Carnegie-Mellon Institute and a master's degree in education and counseling from the University of Pittsburgh.  While in Pittsburgh, she met her former husband, David Steinberg, where he was studying cardiology.  They married in 1967.  In 1971, he received a cardiology fellowship at Emory School of Medicine and they moved to Atlanta. 

Cathey became involved in the National Council of Jewish Women and joined the Temple on their arrival to Atlanta.  She was persuaded by a friend to run against the state representative.  Without experience, she won and served in the Georgia House of Representatives from 1977 to 1988.  She was the first the first Jewish woman to serve.  During her career in the House of Representatives, she was a leader for consumer, family, and women's rights.  She was the primary sponsor of the resolution to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment in 1981-1982.  She served in the Georgia Senate for one term from 1991 to 1993.  In 1999, Governor Roy Barnes appointed her as Georgia's first Consumer Insurance Advocate.  She left the post in March, 2003.   

Cathey has two children, Jill Steinberg Bhan and Lauren Steinberg Silberman.  She married Irwin Levine in 1987.

SCOPE

Cathey Weiss Steinberg begins the interview talking about her parents and being raised in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.  She relates that she has many aunts and uncles.  She reflects that her schooling at Wyoming Seminary Preparatory School and her elementary school years prepared her to move comfortably in different circles later in life.  She speaks of her exposure to non-Jewish people and Jewish people of a certain economic level and reflects that the exposure helped her in her career in the South.

She discusses her years spent in Pittsburgh where she attended college and met her former husband.  She discusses moving several times before moving to Atlanta for a fellowship opportunity her husband had at Emory School of Medicine.  She discusses the difficulty moving to the South and relates that she was expected not to have a career and only to raise children.  She reflects on her need to have a professional life and what led her to run for the Georgia House of State Representatives.  She talks about the lack of women role models during that time how she carved a way for herself as the first Jewish woman in the Georgia House of Representatives. 

She discusses the prevalent paternalistic attitudes she encountered while in the House and recounts the stereotypes people had of her and being perceived as a “smart Jewish Yankee.”  She reflects on the friendships she eventually forged with the predominantly male House of Representatives and how she educated the other members on Jewish history and eventually helped bridge understandings.   Cathey speaks about her achievements and bills passed that she is most proud of, particularly in the area of women and nursing home residents.  She also speaks candidly of the difficulties and her least favorite moments of her career and life in the South.

Cathey speaks of her two daughters, Jill and Lauren.  She discusses meeting her husband Irwin Levine.  She mentions his four children and their combined families.

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