Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Jack Miller, August 31, 2015

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries


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00:00:00 - Family background

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Partial Transcript: For official purposes, today is August 31st, 2015.

Segment Synopsis: Jack Miller was born in Lexington, Kentucky on November 29th, 1935. Jack's family originated from Germany. There were also three generations of Millers that had been living in Cincinnati. His family origins in Cincinnati can be traced back to the late 1800s.

Keywords: Ancestry; Cincinnati (Ohio); Germany

Subjects: Emigration and immigration.; Family histories.; Jewish families.

GPS: Germany
Map Coordinates: 51.165691, 10.451526
00:02:49 - Establishment of a law firm and Miller Brothers General Store

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Partial Transcript: And were they all lawyers?

Segment Synopsis: Miller's family opened a general store on the corner of Main street and Broadway. Starbucks is located there today. The store was a general store opened sometime in the 1870s. Jack also operated a law firm after he graduated in 1962.

Keywords: Benjamin Miller

Subjects: Entrepreneurship; General stores; Jewish businesspeople; Jewish families.; Small business--Kentucky; Small business--Ownership

00:07:29 - Siblings / childhood

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Partial Transcript: Do you have siblings?

Segment Synopsis: Miller had two brothers. However, one of his brothers passed away before he was born. His other brother Robert also passed, and he was about 2.5 years younger than Jack. Jack attended primary school at the Taylor Education building. He was an active member of the school's basketball team. Jack discusses all of the sports and silly games he used to play as a kid.

Keywords: Basketball; Brothers; Death

Subjects: Childhood; Education--Kentucky; Jewish children; Jewish families.

GPS: Location of Taylor Education Building.
Map Coordinates: 38.040625,-84.507259
00:12:36 - Religious observation

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Partial Transcript: Uh--(laughs)--well can you tell me a little about your parents' relationship to Judaism when you were growing up?

Segment Synopsis: Miller discusses how and why his family put up a Christmas tree even though they were heavily involved in Temple life. He also mentions the divide between the Temple and the Synagogue. He was also a part of the first B'nai Mitzvah group, however, this didn't occur until later in life.

Keywords: B'nai Mitzvah; Christmas; Hanukah; National Federation of Temple Youth

Subjects: Holidays.; Jewish children; Jewish families.; Jews--Identity.; Religion; Worship (Judaism)

GPS: Ohavay Zion Synagogue
Map Coordinates: 37.998629, -84.471813
00:21:30 - Societal trends at Temple

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Partial Transcript: Can you describe, aside from the Christmas tree, uh, what Judaism was like in your family?

Segment Synopsis: Miller discusses Jewish life around the High Holidays, and how he had only been involved in one issue of someone saying something nasty about Jews. He also discusses how his father, along with other men in the congregation, would smoke cigarettes outside of the Temple on the holidays.

Keywords: Anti-Semitism; Antisemitism; Cigarettes; Discrimination.; Perspectives; Religious

Subjects: Fasts and feasts--Judaism.; Holidays.; Jews--Identity.; Religion; Worship (Judaism)

00:28:48 - Relationship to Rabbi Grafman

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Partial Transcript: Tell me about your connection with Rabbi Grafman.

Segment Synopsis: Rabbi Grafman was one of the seven clergy men to sign the "Letter to Birmingham Jail," which was written on April 16, 1963. Miller also discusses more about his relationship with Rabbi Grafman, as well as how he felt about race relations. He discusses Jewish holiday observance in the community as well.

Keywords: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; Letter to Birmingham Jail; Race; South

Subjects: African Americans--Relations with Jews.; African Americans--Segregation; African Americans--Social conditions.; Civil rights demonstrations; Fasts and feasts--Judaism.; Holidays.; Jewish leadership--Kentucky--Lexington; Racism; United States--Race relations.; Worship (Judaism)

GPS: Birmingham City Jail
Map Coordinates: 33.496346, -86.823036
00:34:27 - College and active military experience

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Partial Transcript: And so after you graduated from high school and you went on to study at UK.

Segment Synopsis: Miller discusses how he attended the University of Kentucky undergraduate and post-graduate programs. He graduated in 1962. Miller served in Fort Knox and then Fort Jackson, South Carolina. He took a year off from school because he was required to serve at least six months of active duty. He was a part of the Medical Corp.

Keywords: Law school; University of Kentucky. College of Law

Subjects: College students--Conduct of life.; College students--Social conditions; Military service, Voluntary--United States.

GPS: University of Kentucky
Map Coordinates: 42.644692, -83.145301
00:42:40 - Jewish life on the University of Kentucky campus

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Partial Transcript: Um, when I was a senior, I was president of the fraternity.

Segment Synopsis: Miller talks about being president of his fraternity, as well as its location and what social life was like. He also talks about being involved in Hillel.

Keywords: Fraternities; Fraternity president; Hillel

Subjects: College students--Conduct of life.; College students--Religious life; College students--Social conditions; Greek letter societies.

00:54:47 - Involvement in Jewish communal life

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Partial Transcript: How would you say your time in--at UK and also in ZBT, uh, impacted the way you thought about your Jewishness?

Segment Synopsis: Miller thinks back to how he was only really involved with Jewish events on campus. He also discusses how he was president of the congregation as well as an advisor to the youth group while he was a student.

Keywords: Discrimination; Judaism; Prayer

Subjects: Greek letter societies.; Jews--Identity.

01:09:54 - Impact of race relations

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Partial Transcript: So, you talked a lot about these experiences as, as leading the youth and this kind of impactful experience of watching D.C. burn.

Segment Synopsis: Miller talks about how their maid Emma was Black, but they never called her maid. She was treated very respectfully and most of the time they would talk about different issues. He also goes into detail about how growing up Jewish has made him look at the larger picture in life.

Keywords: Civil rights; Jewish; Maids

Subjects: African Americans--Relations with Jews.; African Americans--Social conditions.; United States--Race relations.

GPS: Washington, D.C.
Map Coordinates: 38.907192, -77.036871
01:18:26 - Advice to Jewish students at UK today

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Partial Transcript: Do you have any advice you'd give to Jewish students at UK today?

Segment Synopsis: Miller's advice to current Jewish students consists of bringing back the fraternity, as well as keeping any Jewish organizations on campus alive.

Keywords: Fraternity; Greek life; Hillel

Subjects: College students--Religious life; College students--Social conditions; Greek letter societies.; University of Kentucky

GPS: Current location of the Hillel House
Map Coordinates: 38.039712, -84.495076