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Jewish Heritage: The Oral Histories - Cuba Family Archives

MEMORIST:                        SYLVIA BECKER

INTERVIEWER:                  KIM COHEN

LOCATION:                        ATLANTA, GEORGIA

DATE:                                 MARCH 18, 1999

Transcript (PDF)


Sylvia Pollock Becker was born in Asheville, North Carolina, in 1929 to Benjamin and Helen August Pollock.  Her father’s family immigrated to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, from Russia.  Her mother’s family immigrated to Spartanburg, South Carolina, from the Poland/Russia region.  Her father owned a chain of Butler shoe stores in the southeast. The family moved to Atlanta when Sylvia was a teen.  She attended Girls’ High School in Atlanta.  Her family attended the Temple regularly and celebrated Hanukkah.  She and her family enjoyed many social activities within the Jewish community.

Sylvia is a known Holocaust historian, having studied the subject for more than 20 years.  Sylvia has one sister and many cousins. She married Saul Becker in 1949.  They have three children.


Sylvia Becker begins the interview talking about her childhood in Ashville, North Carolina, where she had a large family and many cousins in surrounding cities.  She remembers large family dinners and going to temple every Friday night.  She relates she had many Jewish friends but went to a convent for her schooling. 

Sylvia discusses her family moving to Atlanta during her teen years and tells of the social scene and relations between the Jewish communities.  Sylvia shares lively stories of her family, her acquaintances, and friends.  She remembers doing community volunteer activities with her friends and discusses dating and having fun with her girlfriends.  She recalls going to Temple and remembers the night of the Temple bombing.  She reflects on World War II and how she perceived it as a threat as a young Jewish teen.  She also reflects on civil rights and how she understood it as a young adult. 

She reflects on her first visit to Israel and how that led to her interest in the Holocaust and her studies in the Holocaust.  She discusses meeting Holocaust survivors and scholars and becoming a historian in the field herself.  She tells of her meeting her husband Saul Becker and talks about their three children.

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