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Jewish Heritage: The Oral Histories - Cuba Family Archives

MEMOIRIST:                    JAKE ALHADEFF  

INTERVIEWER:               RAY ANN KREMER

LOCATION:                      ATLANTA, GEORGIA

DATE:                               MARCH 26, 1992

Transcript (PDF)

BIOGRAPHY

Jake Alhadeff was born in 1915 in Atlanta, Georgia, to Estrea Benator Alhadeff and Solomon Alhadeff.  He was the oldest of six children.  His parents came to the United States around 1914.  His father went to Cuba before coming to the United States.  Jake can trace his grandparents to the Isle of Rhodes and Istanbul, Turkey.  The family spoke the Ladino language.  In Atlanta, they had been active members of Congregation Or VeShalom since 1915.  His father was one of the organizers. 

Jake earned a degree in accounting at the University of Georgia.  After serving in the United States Army during World War II, he continued his education at Command and General Staff College.   Jake married Mary Esral in October, 1938.  They have three children, Norman Lewis, Marilyn, and Rochelle.  They have many grandchildren and great grandchildren. 

SCOPE OF INTERVIEW

Jake Alhadeff begins the interview talking about his parents who came to Atlanta around 1914 from the Isle of Rhodes and Turkey.  He reflects how the Sephardic Jews from each of these areas had subtle differences in culture and customs.  Jake talks about the 400-year history of the Sephardim and traces their history to the United States and Atlanta beginning in 1910.  In the interview, Jake names many of the families who first settled in Atlanta and discusses the earliest synagogues in Atlanta.  He talks about the various Sephardic synagogues in Atlanta.

Jake talks about his father’s shoe repair business, a skill he learned in Atlanta.  He relates that he grew up speaking the Ladino language at home, but that the language is no longer spoken by younger generations.  Jake recalls Rabbis Joseph Cohen, Tobias Geffen, and Robert Ichay.  He reflects on his bar mitzvah on a Thursday afternoon and remembers returning to school afterward.

Jake talks about the schools he attended in Atlanta and the Jewish youth clubs he was involved with.  He talks about the intermarriage of Ashkenazi and Sephardim in the community.  Jake mentions that he served in the United States Army from 1943-1946.   He discusses attending the University of Georgia after he married and attending Command and General Staff College after the war.

Jake talks about his wife, Mary Esral, and their marriage in 1938.  He reflects on the wedding ceremony at his family’s home conducted by Rabbis Geffen and Cohen.  He talks about their three children, Norman Lewis, Marilyn Bernstein, and Rochelle Richmond.

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