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Jewish Heritage: The Oral Histories - Cuba Family Archives

MEMOIRIST:           SELMA GREENBERG DUNN

INTERVIEWER:      MEYERHOFF, HARRIET

DATE:                      JANUARY 13, 1998

LOCATION:             SAVANNAH, GEORGIA

Transcript (PDF)

Biography

Selma Greenberg Dunn was born and raised in Savannah, Georgia. She lived with her maternal grandmother, Jenny Friedman, her mother, Rachel Friedman Greenberg, her father, Joseph Greenberg, and her three sisters, Helen, Betty, and Doris. Selma was raised in an area of Savannah known as Yamacraw, and there she attended school, worked on the weekends, and went to the conservative synagogue Agudath Achim. Selma was raised as an orthodox Jew, and she observed every Jewish holiday and orthodox ritual with her family.

Scope of the Interview

Selma discusses her experiences growing up in Yamacraw in Savannah, Georgia, and reminisces on what things were like for her growing up. Selma recalls many orthodox customs and rituals she experienced growing up. Selma also talks about the environment she grew up in and describes what the city was like back in the day. She talks about the City Market, the Jewish people who worked there, grocery and merchant stores run by Jewish families in the area, and the three prominent synagogues that were in Savannah (Congregation B’nai B’rith Jacob, Congregation Mickve Israel, and Congregation Agudath Achim).

Selma also briefly discusses what the social life was like for children and teens when she was growing up. She talks about how the majority of the social life was centered around the Jewish Educational Alliance and other Jewish organizations.

Selma recalls the beginnings of the conservative movement in Savannah and discusses the reconstruction and moving of the Agudath Achim synagogue. She also talks about what Jewish holidays like Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur meant to her growing up.​

Selma gives the interviewer a glimpse into what it was like growing up in Savannah when they didn’t have things modern advances like central heating and air. She recounted her days going to school with outdoor bathrooms, and small electric heaters to warm them during the cold winters.

The interview ends with Selma discussing her grandmother’s old boarding house and the Jewish boarders who lived there.

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