// William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum
Menu
Search
Jewish Heritage: The Oral Histories - Cuba Family Archives

MEMOIRIST:                       CHIPPIE ALTERMAN

INTERVIEWER:                    RAY ANN KREMER

DATE:                                   JUNE 19, 1989

                                          JULY 6, 1989

LOCATION:                          ATLANTA, GEORGIA

Transcript (PDF)

Biography

Chippie Rubin Alterman was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1917, but her parents emigrated from Russia and Poland.   Her father’s name was Harry Rubin and her mother’s was Ida Lipow Rubin.  Her early childhood was spent in Columbus, Georgia, where her father was a peddler in north Georgia and North Carolina.   Her father was self-educated and agnostic, who came from a Jewish revolutionist background in Russia.     

Chippie attended a Reform Jewish Sunday school, but the family did not belong to a synagogue due to her father being agnostic.  Her family celebrated Jewish holidays at home, lighting candles for Sabbath and Hanukkah.  They did not keep kosher, but they never had treif.   Their religious observance at home was influenced by her father’s observant upbringing in Russia. 

During Chippie’s high school years, she worked at Alterman Brothers Grocery, where she met Sam Alterman.  They later married and adopted three children.  She continued to work with him and his brothers in the family business.  Chippie was active in the community and was a member of a number of Jewish organizations, including Young Judaea, Hadassah, Brandeis University National Women’s Committee, Temple Sisterhood, and United Jewish Appeal.   She was also active with non-Jewish organizations such as the American Red Cross and Blood Bank. 

Scope of Interview:

Chippie Rubin Alterman discusses her parents who emigrated from Russia and Poland.  She describes her father as a self-educated liberal, philosopher, and agnostic, having a Jewish revolutionist background from Russia.  She recollects her early childhood in Columbus, Georgia, where her father was a peddler in north Georgia and North Carolina.   She reflects on her upbringing as a child, where she attended a Jewish Reform Sunday school but that the family did not belong to a synagogue due to her father being agnostic.  She talks about celebrating Jewish holidays at home, lighting candles for Sabbath and Hanukkah.  She recalls that they did not keep kosher, but they never had treif.   She speaks of their religious observance at home as being influenced by her father’s strict upbringing in Russia and that these were practices he could not discard.   She remembers these practices being more important to her father than to her mother. 

During Chippie’s high school years, she worked at Alterman Brothers Grocery, where she met Sam Alterman.  They later married and adopted three children.  Chippie recounts that she continued to work with her husband and his brothers in their grocery business.   She describes the Alterman’s as a close family and that the six brothers worked together in the business.  Chippie speaks of intermarriage in her family and in the Jewish-Atlanta community.

Chippie was active in the community and was a member of a number of Jewish organizations, including Young Judaea, Hadassah, Brandeis University National Women’s Committee, Temple Sisterhood, and United Jewish Appeal.  She discusses influential Jewish leaders in Atlanta, including Edward Kahn, Sam Rosenberg, and Barney Medintz.  She also discusses black leadership in Atlanta and Jewish-black relations.   She describes Jewish shops and shopkeepers and the business relations they had with the black community.   She recalls her father’s association with professors at Spelman College, a historic black college, as an example of his liberal ideals and forward-thinking perspective.

She recalls Ku Klux Klan activities in Atlanta and their marches in front of Jewish stores as well as cross burnings.   She was too young to recall the details of the Leo Frank case, but she remembers a song about Mary Phagan, the murdered girl.   

Chippie describes Jewish neighborhoods, clubs, and restaurants, remembering them fondly.   She reflects on desegregation of restaurants and in her daughter’s school.   She mentions the changing face of the City of Atlanta, the demographic growth of the city, leadership, and the integration of European and Russian Jews into the Jewish-Atlanta community who immigrated during World War I and II and the 1980s.

The Breman Museum1440 Spring Street, NW Atlanta, GA 30309678-222-3700
© 2018 William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum.     Privacy Statement  |  Terms Of Use

This website is supported by a generous gift from the Jerry and Dulcy Rosenberg Family in honor of Elinor Rosenberg Breman.

Jewish Federation
Login