// William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum
Jewish Heritage: The Oral Histories - Cuba Family Archives



LOCATION:                        MACON, GEORGIA

DATE:                                 JANUARY 21, 2003

Transcript (PDF)


Gus Bernd Kaufman (July 18, 1918 - January 4, 2008) was born in Columbus, Georgia, the son of Simon Mony Kaufman and Elberta Bernd Kaufman. He had one sister, Jane. He graduated from Lanier High School for Boys in Macon, Georgia and attended the University of Georgia for two years. He then returned to Macon to work at the family harness shop, G. Bernd Company, and served as company president from 1943-1980. He also owned and operated Joyland Toy Store and Macon Raceway and Hobby Shop.

In 1944, Gus married Marian Waxelbaum whom he met at Temple Beth Israel in Macon. They had four children; Aaron, Gus, Lise, and Marianna. Gus and Marian were active members of the temple, where they each served as president for a time. In 2007, they received the first Keter Torah Award for their lifetime service to the temple and the entire Middle Georgia community.

A Democrat, Gus worked for years behind the scenes for Democratic candidates at the local, state, and national levels. He was active in the Civil Rights Movement, and in 2004 received the James Wimberly Racial Barrier Breaker Award for his pioneering work in that area.

Gus B. Kaufman is perhaps best known for his work studying Jewish history in the Macon and Middle Georgia area. He was a member of the Georgia Jewish Genealogical Society, the Breman Jewish Heritage Museum, the Southern Jewish Historical Society, and the Straus Historical Society. He authored several books on the subject, including some he co-authored with Marian. These include: The Family of Simon Kaufmann of Lichtenau, Germany (1992); The Jewish Burials of Macon, Georgia, 1844-1997; 1490 Listings of Marriages of Macon and Bibb County, Georgia, With One or Both Spouses of Jewish Birth, 1823-1997; and The Great Migration and the Founding of Congregation Sherah Israel (Now Sha'arei Israel) in Macon, Georgia, 1881-1910.


Gus reflects on growing up in Macon, living with his mother and other members of her family following her divorce from Gus’s father. He talks about his time in scouting (he was an Eagle Scout), and describes his work as a young man at G. Bernd Company—his family’s harness business in Macon—where he worked until his retirement. He also discusses his involvement in politics and the Civil Rights Movement, and in the Jewish community in Macon and Middle Georgia. In the interview, Gus—historian and avid genealogist—shares interesting details and background about people, culture, and events spanning several generations.

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