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MEMOIRIST:                  SOL SINGER


DATE:                             FEBRUARY 11, 1995

                                       FEBRUARY 18, 1995

LOCATION:                     ATLANTA, GEORGIA

Transcript (PDF)


Sol Singer was born on January 27, 1918 in Atlanta, Georgia. Sol’s father was Phillip Singer, an immigrant from Kosow, Austria-Hungary. Sol’s mother was Ethel Kolodkin Singer, an immigrant from Schatsk, Russia. Phillip and Ethel were married in Atlanta in 1917 by Rabbi Tobias Geffen. Phillip operated a retail dry goods store in Unadilla, Georgia, where Sol lived throughout his childhood. Sol’s brother Marvin was born in 1922.

During his childhood, Sol spent summers in Atlanta with his maternal grandparents, Abe Kolodkin and Pearl Radunsky Kolodkin. In 1934, Sol graduated High School in Unadilla. He enrolled in the University of Georgia (UGA). He joined Tau Epsilon Phi, a Jewish fraternity. Sol graduated from UGA with a law degree in 1939.

After Sol graduated, he married Ruth Kruger, whom he had dated when they were both students at UGA. The wedding took place in Fitzgerald, Georgia, Ruth’s hometown, with Rabbi Edmund A. Landau from Albany, Georgia officiating. After their wedding, Sol and Ruth settled in Columbus, Georgia, where Sol opened a wholesale distribution business in partnership with his uncle, Charles Kolodkin.

Sol was a member of Shearith Israel Synagogue in Columbus. Sol served as a president of Shearith Israel, as a vice president of the Southeast Region of Conservative Judaism, and as a founding member of the Columbus Jewish Federation.

Sol had three children: Sharon Singer Norry, Alice Singer Shapiro, and Eric Singer. Sol moved his business and family from Columbus to Atlanta in 1962. He joined Ahavath Achim Synagogue (AA) in Atlanta. Sol was very active in Jewish education through the Atlanta Jewish Federation’s Missions, Bureau of Jewish Education, and the Epstein School.

Scope of Interview:

Sol discussed the immigrant origins of his parents Phillip and Ethel Kolodkin Singer. Sol’s father Phillip emigrated alone from Kosow, Austria-Hungary about 1906 at the age of 18. Sol’s mother Ethel emigrated in 1911 from Shatsk, a village near Minsk, Russia, along with his maternal grandmother Pearl Radunsky Kolodkin. Sol’s mother Ethel, her four siblings, and his grandmother Pearl joined his maternal grandfather Abe Kolodkin in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Sol talked about his mother and her family moving to Atlanta when she was 14.

Sol talked about how his parents met and were married in 1917 in Atlanta, Georgia on Central Avenue by Rabbi Tobias Geffen, the rabbi at Shearith Israel Synagogue. He told how his father decided to open a retail dry goods store in Unadilla, Georgia, a small farm town with a population of 1,100, where Sol spent his childhood years.

Sol discussed growing up in a town with virtually no other Jewish families. He talked about his family’s acceptance by the Unadilla townspeople, the community’s respect for his father as a businessman, and the community’s respect for his family’s Jewish customs. He discussed socializing with other Jewish families in small towns throughout South Georgia like Hawkinsville, Vienna, Cordele, Eastman, and Fitzgerald. Sol discussed his lack of Jewish education and spending time with his maternal grandparents in Atlanta where he prepared for a minimal bar mitzvah ceremony.

Sol told about life during the Depression years in Unadilla and helping other Jewish families who passed through the small towns in South Georgia. He remembered how they were provided with food and gas by his parents and other Jewish families living in the towns.

Sol spoke about attending the University of Georgia (UGA) in Athens, Georgia. He discussed the experience of being part of a large group of other Jewish students, joining a Jewish fraternity, and dating his future wife Ruth Kolodkin who was also a student at UGA.

Sol discussed his wedding in Fitzgerald, Georgia. He told about his father-in-law Elex Kruger who was a charter member of the Hebrew Commercial Alliance, and how it saved the stores of many Jewish businessmen during the Depression. Sol recalled starting his wholesale distribution business in Columbus, Georgia and Jewish life in Columbus. He tells about his commitment to Conservative Judaism, and fundraising and building Shearith Israel Synagogue in Columbus. He discussed incorporating the Columbus Jewish Federation. He described how the Jewish community in Columbus extended hospitality to the Jewish soldiers at Fort Benning during World War II. He told about the huge community seder during World War II in Columbus that was attended by the Jewish troops from Fort Benning and the entire Columbus Jewish community.

Sol talked about moving his business and family to Atlanta. Sol told about providing his children with a Jewish education through tutors in Columbus, through Camp Ramah during summertime, and at the Hebrew Academy in Atlanta for his son Eric. Sol explained how his lack of access to Jewish education as a youth in South Georgia influenced his commitment to Jewish education as an adult. He talked about his activities in the Atlanta Jewish Federation’s Missions, Bureau of Jewish Education, and the Epstein School. Sol emphasized the contributions of his three adult children to Jewish life and the even more extensive Jewish education being provided to his grandchildren at the Epstein School.

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