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Jewish Heritage: The Oral Histories - Cuba Family Archives



DATE:                                JULY 30, 2009

LOCATION:                       BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA


Margie Rosenbaum was born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1925.  She is a first generation American.  Her father’s parents were born in Poland.  Her mother’s parents were born in Jerusalem.  Margie’s mother, Rachel Sarasohn, arrived in New York at the age of 15 with her mother.  Her father, Felix Shevinsky, came to America when he was 16 years old.  Margie’s father started working as a peddler before opening a store in downtown Birmingham.  Margie’s mother died at a young age when Margie was three years old.   Margie was raised by her father and grandparents.  Her grandparents were Orthodox and kept a kosher home. 

Margie’s family belonged to Temple Beth-El in Birmingham.  She went to Sunday school and Hebrew school.  She was the only girl in her Hebrew class.  Margie was active in Sisterhood, Hadassah, and B’nai B’rith Women.  Margie married Albert Rosenbaum in 1946.  She worked with her husband when he went into business for himself.  They have three children.


Margie Rosenbaum talks about growing up in Birmingham.  She mentions visiting her cousins in Chicago every summer as a child and recalls Birmingham being behind in comparison to the North and East.  She describes her friends as Jewish and remaining friends from childhood through college.  She recalls having non-Jewish friends also.  She remembers going to the movies with her friends in downtown Birmingham on Saturday afternoons.  She talks about her favorite Jewish department stores in Birmingham.  She discusses her father’s business downtown, the clientele, and their family’s relationship with the black community.

Margie talks fondly about her grandparents and how they raised her.  She mentions that they were Orthodox and very religious.  She discusses going to Sunday school and Hebrew school and it being a big part of her life.  She recalls walking to synagogue with her girlfriends.  She describes her family as ardent supporters of Zionism. 

Margie remembers the kosher butchers in Birmingham and the thriving downtown Jewish businesses and community.  She remembers social activities at the YMHA, going to dances, and watching the boys playing basketball.  She talks about the division between Reform and Orthodox communities and how that changed after World War II.  She talks about her relationships with each of the rabbis from Temple Beth-El.

Margie talks about meeting her husband, Albert Rosenbaum.  She talks about working with him in their family business.  She discusses her childhood years, social activities, and friends and relationships.  She mentions that she is proud to be a Southern Jew.  She talks about her three children.  

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