Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Judy Saxe, December 1, 2015

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


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00:00:00 - Family history

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Partial Transcript: For official purposes, today is December 1st, 2015. My name is Janice Crane, and I am part of the interviewing team for the Jewish Kentucky Oral History Project, funded by the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence. I'm honored to be here today with Judy Saxe.

Segment Synopsis: Judy Saxe discusses her family history. Her mother, Leila Sinaiko, was a physical education teacher. Her father, David Shapiro, was a rabbi. Her paternal grandparents were both born in Jerusalem. Her paternal grandparents came from a small town in Belarus. She has one younger brother currently living in Jerusalem. Her husband is Stanley Saxe, with whom she has three children, Harriet, Natalie and Neil.

Keywords: Belarus; David Shapiro; English; Green Bay, Wisconsin; Harriet Saxe; Jerusalem; Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence; Jewish Kentucky Oral History Project; Judy Saxe; Kapul; Leila Sinaiko; Madison, Wisconsin; Natalie Saxe; Neil Saxe; Palestine; Stanley Saxe; University of Wisconsin; Yiddish

Subjects: Families.; Family histories.; Family--history; Jewish families.

GPS: Belarus
Map Coordinates: 53.709807, 27.953389000000016
00:06:37 - Relationship with Judaism

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Partial Transcript: Uh, your father was a rabbi, how would you describe your parents', both your mother and your father's, relationship to Judaism?

Segment Synopsis: Saxe discusses her and her family's relationship to Judaism. Both her father and her grandfather were rabbis. Judy Saxe examines her family customs of keeping kosher and Shabbat practices.

Keywords: Conservative; First World War; Haddassah; Hebrew; Henrietta Szold; Holocaust; Israel; Jewish identity; Kosher; Madison, Wisconsin; Nazism; New York City; Orthodox; Poland; Rabbi; Second World War; Shabbat; University of Wisconsin; World War I; World War II; Zionism; Zionist

Subjects: Jews--Identity.; Judaism.; Religion; Worship (Judaism)

GPS: Green Bay, Wisconsin, where Judy Saxe's father, David Shapiro, had a congregation.
Map Coordinates: 44.51915899999999, -88.01982599999997
00:19:03 - Jewish college life at Brandeis

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Partial Transcript: Uh, where did you go to school? Um--

Segment Synopsis: Judy Saxe discusses the role of Judaism in her life in college at Brandeis University. She participated in the Student Zionist Organization and eventually took a year off school to do a work-study program in Israel.

Keywords: American Zionist Youth Commission; Hadassah; Hillel; IZFA; Israel; Jewish Agency for Israel; Student Zionist Organization; The International Zionist Federation of America; University of Washington; Young Judea; Zionism; Zionist

Subjects: Brandeis University; College students--Conduct of life.; College students--Religious life; Judaism.

GPS: Brandeis University, where Judy Saxe studied sociology.
Map Coordinates: 42.36628450000001, -71.25873430000001
00:24:08 - Arrival to Kentucky in 1962

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Partial Transcript: Before we get too much into your life here in Kentucky, is there anything unique we should know about your family background or childhood years that you haven't already mentioned?

Segment Synopsis: Judy Saxe discusses the series of events that led to her and her family living in Lexington, Kentucky. She was married to her husband, Stanley Saxe, in 1958, after which he got a job at the University of Washington so the pair moved to Seattle. Stanley Saxe was later recruited by the University of Kentucky to help start the dental school. In 1962, they moved to Lexington where they have stayed ever since.

Keywords: 1962; Brandeis University; Florida; Israel; Jewish community; Lexington, Kentucky; Madison, Wisconsin; Ohavay Zion; Periodontics; Seattle, Washington; Stanley Saxe; University of Kentucky; University of Washington; Young Judaea

Subjects: Dental schools; Lexington (Ky.); Universities and colleges--Faculty.; University of Kentucky. College of Dentistry

00:29:50 - Holiday observance in Lexington

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Partial Transcript: Describe Judaism in your home as an adult in Lexington and as a parent.

Segment Synopsis: Saxe discusses how her family observed the high holidays in Lexington, Kentucky. Her children were often the only Jewish children in their classes at school, prompting Saxe to come to school and explain Judaism on numerous occasions. Saxe taught at Hebrew and Sunday school for a number of years and eventually became the principal.

Keywords: Conservative; Hadassah; Hebrew schools; Jewish; Lexington, Kentucky; Marilyn Moosnick; Ohavay Zion; Orthodox; Rabbi Schwab; Sunday School; Synagogue; Young Judaea

Subjects: Fasts and feasts--Judaism.; Holidays.; Lexington (Ky.)

GPS: Ohavay Zion Synogogue
Map Coordinates: 37.9986288, -84.47181260000002
00:38:14 - Lexington Havurah beginning in 1977

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Partial Transcript: I know that you were actively involved in the formation of the Havurah. Uh, can you first describe what the Havurah is, and tell about the Jewish community's climate that was key to its formation?

Segment Synopsis: Judy Saxe discusses the formation of the Lexington Havurah and how it has transformed today.

Keywords: 1977; Boston; Brandeis University; Conservative; Havurah; Ohavay Zion; Ori Smith; Orthodox; Rabbi Schwab; Reconstructionist Judaism; Reform; Reform movement; Somerville, Massachusetts

Subjects: Judaism.; Lexington (Ky.)

GPS: Lexington, Kentucky
Map Coordinates: 38.0405837, -84.50371640000003
00:59:07 - Raising Jewish children in Lexington 1960s-1980s

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Partial Transcript: Um, to the best of your ability, how did your children, not that we know what our children's thoughts and feelings are all the time, but how did your children feel about their Jewishness in Lexington?

Segment Synopsis: Judy Saxe discusses her children's experiences growing up Jewish in Lexington. Her son, Neil, at one point was in trouble for not praying at his soccer games. She also discusses the positive and negative sides of raising Jewish children in Lexington.

Keywords: 1960s; 1980s; Anti-Semitism; Glendover School; High holidays; Jewish; Lexington, Kentucky; Merle Weckstein; Natalie Saxe; Neil Saxe; Ohavay Zion; Wisconsin

Subjects: Jewish children; Jews--Identity.; Jews--Kentucky--Lexington.; Judaism.; Lexington (Ky.); Religion

01:08:35 - Lexington Hadassah

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Partial Transcript: I know that you've been very involved with Hadassah. Both at the local and the national level. Um, if you could briefly explain what Hadassah is, and tell me about your involvement with Hadassah, both locally and nationally, um, when you got involved and why.

Segment Synopsis: Judy Saxe discusses her involvement with Hadassah both locally and nationally.

Keywords: Betty Rosenberg; Frankie Yeaties; Hadassah; Hadassah Hospital; Hannah Levi; Israel; Jewish; Jewish community; Lexington, Kentucky; Madison, Wisconsin; Marilyn Moosnick; Ohavay Zion; Synagogue Sisterhood; Temple Adath Israel; Young Judaea; Youth Aliyah; Zionism; Zionist

Subjects: Jewish leadership--Kentucky--Lexington; Jewish women--Kentucky--Lexington; Judaism.; Lexington (Ky.); Volunteers

GPS: The national headquarters of Hadassah
Map Coordinates: 40.7643899, -73.9759029
01:19:26 - Lexington women's leadership in Hadassah since 1969

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Partial Transcript: Judy, it's my understanding that not just yourself but, um, others that there's a, a s--disproportionate amount of women involved in Hadassah...

Segment Synopsis: Judy Saxe discusses why there have been so many women in leadership positions at Hadassah from Lexington since 1969 to now.

Keywords: 1969; Alex Cohen; Anita Baker; Becky Golden; Betty Rosenberg; Ellen Henson; Esther Moskowitz; Frankie Yeaties; Gail Cohen; Hadassah; Hannah Levi; Harriet Cooper; Israel; Jewish community; Lexington, Kentucky; Marilyn Moosnick; National board; Ohavay Zion; Ross Moosnick; Women in leadership; Young Judaea; Zionism; Zionist

Subjects: Jewish leadership--Kentucky--Lexington; Jewish women--Kentucky--Lexington; Judaism.; Lexington (Ky.); Volunteers

01:27:14 - Feelings on Israel

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Partial Transcript: Judy, I know that, um, you know, you come from a really significant Israeli background, you're...

Segment Synopsis: Judy Saxe discusses her views on Israel and its politics.

Keywords: Antisemitism; Democratic; Extremist; Government; Hitler; Holocaust; Homeland; Israeli; Jewish; Jews; Netanyahu; Palestine; Political views; Refugees; United States of America; Western world; Zionism; Zionist

Subjects: Israel.; Jews--Identity.; Judaism.; Politics and government; Religion and politics

GPS: Israel
Map Coordinates: 31.046051, 34.85161199999993
01:34:24 - Role in the Jewish Federation

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Partial Transcript: Besides your involvement in Hadassah, I know that you've been very active with the Jew, Jewish Federation.

Segment Synopsis: Judy Saxe discusses her involvement in the Jewish Federation. She has been involved with Camp Shalom for many years. She is also a member of the Jewish Community Association. Saxe was the director from 1981 to 1986.

Keywords: AIPAC; Camp Shalom; Central Kentucky Jewish Association; Chuck Gordesky; Congregation; Dave Weckstein; David Weckstein; David Wheel; Directors; Earl Levi; Federations of North America; Gail Cohen; Irv Rosenstein; Jack Miller; Jewish Community Association; Jewish Community Forum; Jewish Federation; Judy Levine; Kitzy Neuberger; Leon Cooper; Mike Bayer; Molly Schwab; Presidents; Rabbis; Romany Road; Shelly Dare; Southland Drive; Stanley Rose; Steve Caller; Sue Friedman; United Jewish Appeal; Waller Avenue; Waller Pharmacy; Washington, D.C.

Subjects: Jewish leadership--Kentucky--Lexington; Jewish women--Kentucky--Lexington; Judaism.; Lexington (Ky.)

GPS: Waller Avenue, where the office for the Federation once was located.
Map Coordinates: 38.02967, -84.51757629999997
01:48:50 - Funding for the Lexington Jewish Federation Today

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Partial Transcript: Judy, I just recently read that the funding for the Federation has declined. And I also read that Judy Wortman, who is the present director, is moving, and there's going to be a search for a new director.

Segment Synopsis: Judy Saxe discusses why she thinks funding for the Federation has decreased recently.

Keywords: Boston; Directors; Funding; Fundraising; Herschel Wheel; Israel; Jewish Farmers of America; Jewish Federation; Jewish Future Farmers; Jewish community; Judy Wortman; Lexington; Steve Kahler; Wealth

Subjects: Fund raising; Jewish leadership--Kentucky--Lexington; Judaism.; Lexington (Ky.)

01:56:10 - Changes in Lexington's Jewish community from 1962 to 2015

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Partial Transcript: Okay Judy, um, you've seen a lot in Lexington, you've been really active in several organizations, in the synagogue, in the Havurah and Hadassah, and, uh, the Federation, and if you could just--

Segment Synopsis: Judy Saxe discusses the changes she has witnessed in Lexington's Jewish community over time. The Jewish community has increased in size, and consequently become more diffuse. The development of social services has become more sophisticated. She provides a narrative of strong community support, especially around funerals and supporting family members left behind. She discusses the Jewish community's attempt to both support Jewish community and the broader Lexington community. She also discusses the impact of greater assimilation on the preservation of Jewish identity.

Keywords: 1962; Acculturation; Anti-Semitism; Assimilation; B'nai Brith; God's Pantry; Hadassah; Havurah; Jewish; Jewish community; Jewish identity; Judaism; Lexington; The Jewish Federation

Subjects: Jewish leadership--Kentucky--Lexington; Jews--Identity.; Jews--Kentucky--Lexington.; Judaism.; Lexington (Ky.)

02:02:53 - Change in Jewish gender roles

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Partial Transcript: Looking back, what, if anything, would you change about your relationship with Judaism, if there's anything?

Segment Synopsis: Judy Saxe discusses how she would change her relationship to Judaism. She expresses her desire to become a rabbi and calls attention to the way Jewish gender roles have changed throughout Saxe's entire life.

Keywords: Brandeis University; Cincinnati, Ohio; Feminism; Gender roles; Hebrew Union College; Jewish; Jewish Theological Seminary; Lexington, Kentucky; Rabbis; Sally Prizand

Subjects: Gender issues; Jewish leadership; Jewish women--Kentucky--Lexington; Judaism.; Sex role

GPS: Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Map Coordinates: 39.138374, -84.52022599999998