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Jewish Heritage: The Oral Histories - Cuba Family Archives

MEMOIRIST:                       MARTHA STRASSBURGER RINGEL HEYMAN (1921-2010)

INTERVIEWER:                   SHIRLEY BRICKMAN

DATE:                                  JUNE 25, 1985

LOCATION:                        ATLANTA, GEORGIA

ID#                                    OHC10566

NUMBER OF PAGES:          17

Transcript (PDF)

HIGHLIGHTS/EXCERPTS

“We did not celebrate Hanukkah in the sense that we gave presents.  We did not.  We didn't celebrate Christmas. I never quite understood because it was never adequately explained to me except that we were Jewish and we didn't celebrate Christmas.  But on Christmas day we went to see a cousin of my father's . . . every Christmas . . . because they had a tree and my parents, for some reason or another, decided we'd see that tree. We were arm’s length. We never really enjoyed it.”    7

            On her childhood in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania

            “It was pleasurable because I was very busy socially.  We had a home that was . . . my parents built it when I was ten.  It was a little more extravagant than everybody else's which separated us.  It was not lavish in the sense that it was garish . . . was elegant, it was formal. It was not like anybody else's home and it made me . . . it separated us.  But we had an electric player piano in the huge living room and every weekend all the boys and girls came to our house.  We had a wonderful time in high school in that sense. We had a country club life.  We went to the club every single weekend in the summer.  In the winter we did a lot of ice skating and sledding.  So, we had a lot of social life and it was always Jewish . . . always Jewish.”  9

 

BIOGRAPHY

Martha Strassburger Ringel (Heyman) was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania although her parents’ families emigrated from Germany.  Her father, Eugene B. Strassburger Sr., was a prominent lawyer.  Her mother, Cosntance Block Stassburger, was active in the National Council of Jewish Women.  Martha attended Wellesley College in Massachusetts.  They were generally non-observant in their home, despite the fact that her father was president of the Temple Rodef Shalom, an ultra-Reform Congregation, for 17 years.  They did however go to Temple every Sunday morning.  Martha went to Sunday school and was confirmed. 

She married her first husband, Robert L. Spear, and who was in the furniture business in Pittsburgh, in 1937.  She married Herbert A. Ringel, a lawyer from Atlanta in 1961.  Martha was very active in the general Atlanta community including working with the unemployed and day care and in the Jewish community as a leader in the National Council of Jewish Women.

Note:  At the time this interview was done, Martha was married to Herbert A. Ringel.  Herbert died in 1990 and Martha married Joseph Heyman, also of Atlanta.  Joseph died in 2001.  Martha died in 2010 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

 

SCOPE OF INTERVIEW:

Martha discusses her childhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: going to camp in the summer, memories of her father, who was a prominent attorney in Pittsburgh, and her mother, who was very active in the National Council of Jewish Women.  Her mother worked with Jewish refugees in the 1930’s.  Martha recalls her family’s religious life, which was very secular, for instance not observing the Sabbath, although her father was president of the Temple Rodef Shalom.  They did attend services Sunday morning and Martha did go to Sunday school and was confirmed.  Martha discusses her social life and friends, her involvement with Sigma Omega Pi, a high school sorority and her later college life, including antisemitism. 

She discusses her first marriage and community involvement with the unemployed, day care, vocational training, the American Jewish Committee, and the National Council of Jewish Women.

 

KEYWORDS:

American Jewish Committee (AJC)

Antisemitism

Atlanta, Georgia

Christmas

Christmas trees

Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA)

Day camps

Day care

Easter Seal Society (Georgia)

Equal Opportunity Advisor Center

Freehof, Solomon B. (Rabbi)

German language

Hanukkah

Heyman, Joseph

Jewish-Christian relations

Jews, German

Judaism—Fasts and feasts

Judaism, Reform

Lawyers

National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW)

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Quakers

Religious education, Jewish

Ringel, Herbert A.

Ringel, Martha Strassburger Spears

Rothschild, Jacob (Rabbi)

Sabbath

Shabbat

Sigma Omega Pi (S O P)

Sororities, High school

Spear, Robert L.

Sports

SS Île de France (ship)

Strassburger, Constance Block

Strassburger, Eugene B. Sr.

Summer camps

Sunday schools, Jewish

Temple Rodef Shalom—Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Temple—Atlanta, Georgia

Unemployment

United States

Vocational training

Wellesley College—Wellesley, Massachusetts

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