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Jewish Heritage: The Oral Histories - Cuba Family Archives

MEMOIRIST:             EDWIN EMBER

INTERVIEWER:          SANDRA BERMAN

LOCATION:                SELMA, ALABAMA

DATE:                         JANUARY 24, 2012

Transcript (PDF)

Biography

Edwin (Ed) Ember was born in Brooklyn, New York.   He attended Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn.  He was bar mitzvahed in New York.  After graduation, he reported for active duty in the United States Navy during World War II, where he trained as combat air crewman.  He attended pre-flight school at the University of Georgia and California Polytechnic State University.  He was stationed in Lake City, Florida, at a naval air station.  When the war ended, he continued his education at the University of Georgia.  He belonged to Tau Epsilon Phi Jewish fraternity.

Ed married Geraldine Halperin, who was from Fitzgerald, Georgia.  He belonged to the Fitzgerald Hebrew Congregation, a Conservative congregation.  They had two sons.  In 1965, after they separated and divorced, he moved several times for business opportunities in Alabama and Georgia.  In 1975, Ed moved to Selma, Alabama for a business opportunity in the retail clothing business, where he met his second wife, Connie. 

Both Ed and his wife are active members of the Temple Mishkan Israel, a Reform congregation, where he has served as president for many years.  He was first exposed to Reform Judaism through Hillel while attending university.  He has played golf and officiated high school football games.  He is an avid University of Georgia football fan.    

Scope

Edwin (Ed) discusses his life in Selma, Alabama.  He mentions that he was born in Brooklyn, New York.  He talks about his training as a combat air crewman in the U.S. Navy and earning his education at the University of Georgia.  He mentions that he was introduced to Reform Judaism at university through Hillel and that he enjoyed reading prayers in English.  He talks about being stationed in Lake City, Florida during World War II.  He talks about seeing different parts of the country while in the Navy.  He mentions that he did not want to return to New York after the war had ended. 

Ed talks about living in Fitzgerald, Georgia, where he met his first wife.  He recalls several families from there and the surrounding towns.  He recalls Jewish businesses there.  He remembers Rabbi Nathan Kohen.  He discusses moving to Alabama and Georgia for business opportunities, before finally settling in Selma, Alabama in 1975. 

He talks about his move to Selma and meeting his second wife, Connie, and her conversion to Judaism.   He remembers the welcoming community when he first arrived in Selma.  He talks about Temple Mishkan Israel’s historic building and its community members.  Ed talks about his vision for the future of the synagogue.  He discusses downtown Selma and recalls the vibrant Jewish business when he first arrived.  He talks about being an avid fan of University of Georgia football.  He mentions his two sons, who live in Georgia.

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