Partial Transcript: Okay, let's just start, um, by--would you just tell me what your full name is, for the record.
Segment Synopsis: David Shraberg describes his family's immigration from Lithuania to Somerset in 1900 and how his grandfather worked as a peddler to bring his bride-to-be over from Lithuania. His family eventually moved to Lexington in order to be part of a larger Jewish community. He also describes how his family name changed through the years due to immigration. Finally, he discusses his grandfather's establishment of a scrapyard on Manchester Street.
Keywords: Bess Smole Shraberg; Dating; David Shraberg; East European immigrants; Ed Munich; Extended family; Family life; Family values; Gentile-Jewish relations; History; Hyman Shraberg; Intermarriage; Jewish communities; Jewish marriage; Kentucky; Lexington (Ky.); Lithuania; Lithuanian immigrants; Max Munich; Moving; Name change; Peddlers; Relatives; Sarah Munich; Scherberg; Schraberg; Shreiberg; Somerset (Ky.); Winnie Katz
Subjects: Emigration and immigration.; Entrepreneurship; Families.; Family histories.; Immigrants--Kentucky; Jewish businesspeople; Jewish families.; Small business--Kentucky; Small business--Ownership
Partial Transcript: So your father was raised here in Lexington.
Segment Synopsis: Shraberg's father took over the family scrap business when his father fell ill with Hodgkin's disease, and helped send his brother and sister to the University of Kentucky. He met his wife, Shraberg's mother, through Ohavay Zion Synagogue's rabbi Winnie Katz, who set them up on a blind date. Shraberg still has his parents' handwritten love letters. Working in the scrapyard as a child gave Shraberg insight into human behavior, eventually leading him to a career in neurology. He describes the business interactions that he saw and explains the healthy competition that exists between the area's scrap metal businesses.
Keywords: Baker family; Bess Smole Shraberg; Chicago (Ill.); Competitors; Courting; Detroit (Mich.); Family values; Henry Clay High School (Lexington, Ky.); History; Hyman Baker; Hyman Shraberg; Izzy Schwartz; Jewish businesses; Jewish marriage; Kentucky Scrap Material Company; Scrap metal; Small businesses; Winnie Katz
Subjects: Childhood; Entrepreneurship; Families.; Jewish businesspeople; Jewish children; Jewish families.; Small business--Kentucky; Small business--Ownership
Partial Transcript: What were your--uh, you, you said you had one brother and one sister?
Segment Synopsis: When Shraberg's grandmother would visit Lexington during the winter, Shraberg would attend High Holiday services at Ohavay Zion Synagogue. However, his family eventually became members of Temple Adath Israel because the services were more accessible and there were more children. For example, Shraberg remembers a moment from his childhood of a Yom Kippur service at the Synagogue where the men would prostrate themselves, which made him uncomfortable as a child. He also discusses how his sister was not expected to complete a bat mitzvah.
Keywords: Bat mitzvahs; Family life; Gender equality; Gender in Judaism; Generational change; High holidays (Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur); Jewish life; Jewish population; Jewish practices; Jewish tradition; Nancy Ann Shraberg; Religious services; Temple; William Leonard Shraberg
Subjects: Childhood; Fasts and feasts--Judaism.; Holidays.; Jewish children; Religion; Worship (Judaism)
Partial Transcript: Did you--were the Jewish, um, rituals important to you? Did you enjoy them? Did you enjoy going to, going to Temple? What did it mean to you as a child and a young man?
Segment Synopsis: Although he enjoyed attending services at Temple Adath Israel, Shraberg discusses the difficulties that existed while he was growing up in maintaining a Jewish identity in a smaller Jewish community, such as having to miss school to attend High Holiday services. He enjoyed the High Holidays and Passover, but Christmas was difficult for him as a child because he didn't understand why Santa Claus didn't visit his house. At school, kids would pick on him for "killing Jesus." As a result, Shraberg got into a few fistfights.
Keywords: Family life; Gentile-Jewish relations; High holidays (Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur); Jewish communities; Jewish friends; Jewish holidays; Jewish identity; Jewish practices; Reform Judaism; Religious life; Religious practices
Subjects: Childhood; Discrimination.; Fasts and feasts--Judaism.; Holidays.; Jewish children; Jews--Identity.; Jews--Kentucky--Lexington.; Lexington (Ky.); Religion; Worship (Judaism)
Partial Transcript: And, um, so did you re, resent at all the-- you mentioned a little while ago that the, the frustration of being told by some of your peers, "Oh you--Why did you kill Jesus?" And did you--and that you were one of the few Jews in a predominantly Christian culture.
Segment Synopsis: Shraberg discusses the anti-Semitism he experienced while growing up in Lexington. He remembers being called slurs by other children, Jews being barred from membership at the Idle Hour Country Club, and an incident where a neighbor tried to petition the neighborhood to get his family to convert to Christianity or move. He also mentions how it was much more difficult to maintain a Jewish identity in a smaller community such as Lexington.
Keywords: Broth family; Cotillion; Country clubs; Culture; Family life; Family values; Gentile-Jewish relations; Holocaust; Idle Hour Country Club; Jewish identity; Jewish practices; Kennedy family; Martin family; Prejudice
Subjects: Anti-semitism; Antisemitism; Discrimination; Jewish children; Jews--Identity.; Jews--Kentucky--Lexington.
Partial Transcript: So where did you attend, uh, school? Elementary and, and junior high and high school?
Segment Synopsis: Shraberg remembers seeing racism against African-Americans in Lexington during the 1950s and 1960s. In particular he discusses the segregation in schools and institutions, such as the Ben Ali Theater where African-Americans could not sit with whites. He laments that he did not realize the discrimination at the time and only became aware of it during the Civil Rights Movement. He also tells a story about a time when his father rehired an African-American worker after he went to jail, which was practically unheard of at the time.
Keywords: Ben Ali Theater (Lexington, Ky.); Education; Employment; Generations; Henry Clay High School (Lexington, Ky.); Jewish businesses; Kentucky Scrap Material Company; Prejudice; Public schools; Relations with African Americans; Small businesses
Subjects: African Americans--Segregation; Childhood; Civil rights movements--United States; Entrepreneurship; Jewish businesspeople; Race discrimination--Kentucky; Racism; Small business--Kentucky; Small business--Ownership
Map Coordinates: 38.046, -84.496
Partial Transcript: And then you headed to UK that year. What, what made you decide to go to--to attend UK for college?
Segment Synopsis: While Shraberg was attending the University of Kentucky, he played keyboard in a band called the Magnificent Titans, named after one of the United States' original intercontinental ballistic missiles. They played at proms, cotillions, fraternity parties and had so many gigs that they had to join the AFL-CIO union. While attending the University of Kentucky, there was a tradition where his freshmen class would have to wear a beanie with "69" stitched on the front. Shraberg also remembers that he stood out as a "yokel" among the campus Jewish population because there were more Northern Jews on campus than Southern Jews.
Keywords: "Magnificent Titans"; American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL–CIO); Beanies; Family values; Fraternity; Greek life (fraternities, sororities); Hazing; Intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM); Jewish friends; Jewish life; Jewish networks; Jewish population; Jews in civic/social scene; Music; Northern Jews; Unions
Subjects: College environment; College students--Conduct of life.; College students--Religious life; College students--Social conditions; Jews--Identity.; University of Kentucky
Partial Transcript: And, uh, I, I had, uh, I think it was in the second year that I decided that maybe I should be more social, so I decided to join a fraternity, and that's when I really became more aware of all the anti-Semitism that was still in the campus.
Segment Synopsis: While attending the University of Kentucky, Shraberg rushed for Zeta Beta Tau (ZBT) and became aware of the rampant anti-Semitism and racism in Greek life on campus. The incidents would range from comments and slurs to refusing Jews into fraternities. Shraberg was not impressed with Greek life and quit after a year. However, when the new medical campus opened up, Jews from around the country moved to Lexington and he made friends with Jews and non-Jews in his pre-medicine program.
Keywords: Culture; Dating; Greek life (fraternities, sororities); Jewish identity; Jewish life; Jewish networks; Jewish organizations; Jewish population; Jewish practices; Jews in civic/social scene; Joe DiMasso; Northern Jews; Population growth; Prejudice; Southern Jews; University of Kentucky Hospital; Zeta Beta Tau (ZBT)
Subjects: Anti-Semitism; Antisemitism; College students--Attitudes.; College students--Conduct of life.; College students--Social conditions; Discrimination.; Greek letter societies.; Jews--Identity.; Racism; University of Kentucky
Map Coordinates: 38.035, -84.499
Partial Transcript: So you mentioned--you very kindly sent me a bio that you'd written about your years in UK which was--
Segment Synopsis: Attending the University of Kentucky instilled in Shraberg a pride in being from Kentucky. It also gave him a unique Jewish experience that was different from Jews in larger cities. This unique perspective of being an outsider influenced Shraberg to pursue an education and career in psychiatry and medicine.
Keywords: Education; Gentile-Jewish relations; Gentiles; Holidays; Jewish communities; Jewish friends; Jewish holidays; Jewish identity; Jewish practices; Jewish tradition; Kentucky; Michael Canarac; Prejudice; Religious practices; Religious services; Small town life; Stereotypes
Subjects: Antisemitism; College students--Attitudes.; College students--Religious life; College students--Social conditions; Discrimination; Jews--Identity.; University of Kentucky
Partial Transcript: Um, you also mentioned in the bio that you sent, um, the political upheaval of the time. And, uh, what impact did that have on you?
Segment Synopsis: Reading about the Six Day War and hearing students describe Israelis as "tough" gave Shraberg his first real sense of pride in being Jewish on a global scale. He also discusses the political tensions, ranging from the Civil Rights Movement to demonstrations against the Vietnam War on the University of Kentucky's campus during the 1970s. Although he did experience some discrimination as a Jew, it was mostly confined to anti-Semitism in the Greek system. He also describes a trip to Europe he took with his brother in 1968 to visit his extended family, including a stop in East Berlin before the Wall fell.
Keywords: Berlin Wall; Civil rights; Communism; Europe; Greek life (fraternities, sororities); Holocaust; Immigration; International relations; Israel; Jewish communities; Jewish identity; Jewish networks; Jewish population; Lithuanian immigrants; Political involvement; Politics; Protests; Six Day War; Stereotypes; Vietnam War; Zionism
Subjects: African Americans--Segregation; Anti-Semitism; Antisemitism; Civil rights movements--United States; Discrimination.; Integration; Jews--Identity.; University of Kentucky
Map Coordinates: 52.509, 13.372
Partial Transcript: Um, I did want to loop back and ask a follow-up question about the, um--your parents' business. Did they--what happened to the business, and did they have any hopes that you would--that you or your brother would take it over?
Segment Synopsis: Shraberg's father ran the Kentucky Scrap Material Company until he died at the age of 77, but was never disappointed in his son for not taking over the business because of his medical career. Shraberg also discusses the choice to raise his family in Lexington and the meaning of Judaism and the Jewish community across the generations.
Keywords: Baker family; Building businesses; Child-rearing; Civic involvement; Competitors; Family businesses; Family life; Family values; Generational change; Generations; Gentile-Jewish relations; Gentiles; Intermarriage; Jewish businesses; Jewish education; Jewish friends; Jewish identity; Jewish life; Jewish networks; Jewish tradition; Kentucky Scrap Material Company; Leadership; Membership; Scrap metal; Small businesses; Small town life; Temple; Temple Adath Israel (Lexington, synagogue); University of Kentucky; University of Kentucky Hospital
Subjects: Entrepreneurship; Jewish businesspeople; Jewish children; Jewish families.; Jews--Identity.; Lexington (Ky.); Small business--Kentucky; Small business--Ownership
Map Coordinates: 38.054, -84.514
Partial Transcript: And as an adult, um, member of the Jewish community here in Lexington and with your experiences being president of the temple, what kind of observations or insights have you developed about the nature of the Jewish community here?
Segment Synopsis: While a leader at Temple Adath Israel, Shraberg wrestled with the problem of dwindling temple membership due to intermarriage and acculturation, and an aging congregation. He served as Temple president from 2006 to 2008.
Keywords: Decline of Jewish population; Jewish communities; Jewish life; Jewish population; Ohavay Zion Synagogue (Lexington); Religious services; Temple; Temple Adath Israel (Lexington, synagogue)
Subjects: Jewish leadership--Kentucky--Lexington; Jews--Identity.; Religion; Worship (Judaism)
Partial Transcript: So you mentioned earlier about, um, how--about Zionism and Israel and how that became important to you when you were in college.
Segment Synopsis: Shraberg attributes the persecution of Jews during the Holocaust to his strong belief in Zionism, although he is sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. The issue of human rights in Israel is a contentious issue within the Temple Adath Israel congregation because Reform Judaism tends to be more politically active in social justice issues. As a result, Temple leadership is very careful about how certain events are executed and tend to avoid politics altogether.
Keywords: Holocaust; Jewish communities; Jewish identity; Political involvement; Reform Judaism; Zionism
Subjects: Israel.; Jews--Identity.; Judaism.; Lexington (Ky.); Religion; Religion and politics
Partial Transcript: What's your experience been of the relationships between the members of Ohavay Zion and Temple Adath Israel?
Segment Synopsis: With the dwindling Jewish population in Lexington, Shraberg thinks that it would be beneficial for the congregations at Temple Adath Israel and Ohavay Zion Synagogue to merge, although he doubts that will happen. He discusses his wife's experience with Hadassah, but he laments that his children were not as involved in Jewish organizations as kids.
Keywords: Child welfare; Child-rearing; Civic clubs; Civic involvement; Community involvement; Congregations; Culture; Decline of Jewish population; Hadassah; Jewish Federation of the Bluegrass; Jewish communities; Jewish friends; Jewish identity; Jewish networks; Jewish organizations; Jewish population; Jews in civic/social scene; Ohavay Zion Synagogue (Lexington); Temple Adath Israel (Lexington, synagogue)
Subjects: Jewish children; Jewish families.; Jews--Identity.; Judaism.; Religion
DONAHUE: Okay, let's just start by, uh--would you just tell me what yourfull name is, for the record.
SHRABERG: Yes. My full name is David Shraberg, no middle name.
DONAHUE: Okay. That's easy. And then, what is your date of birth, and wherewere you born?
SHRABERG: I was born, uh, right here in Lexington, actually down the streetfrom UK [University of Kentucky], at what was once the city hospital, Good Samaritan Hospital. So I was born, I think, on a Tuesday, on April 15, 1947, right here, just down the block.
DONAHUE: Okay. And what are your parents' names?
SHRABERG: My parents' names are--my father's name was Hyman Shraberg, and heactually was born in Kentucky and, uh, lived in Lexington. My mother's name was Bess Smole Shraberg. She originally was from Detroit, but, uh, she was Jewish as well. My family goes back over 100 years, because I was actually named after my grandfather, my father's father, David Shraberg, who immigrated from a small town in Lithuania to Kentucky in about 1900, 1901, and, uh, sent for his bride, 00:01:00uh, Sarah Munich (??) Shraberg, and they married and had three children, the youngest being my father. So, uh, that's kind of my Kentucky roots, through my father's side of the family.
DONAHUE: Would you just spell your mother's maiden name for us?
SHRABERG: Yes. Bess Smole, S-m-o-l-e, Shraberg.
DONAHUE: Okay. Uh, now, did your parents and/or maternal or paternalgrandparents' names change when, uh, they came to America?
SHRABERG: Yes. It's rather interesting. They originally were able to tracethe family back to this town in Lithuania, and I can't quite pronounce it, Azwaca (??), but it's in what's now present-day Lithuania, and the spellings have been everything from--the original spelling was Schreiberg, S-c-h-r-e-i-b-e-r-g. And my grandfather David Schraberg, uh, there--we have a 00:02:00picture of them on their little shtetl in the little town in Lithuania, they were twins--my, my grandfather David was twins with another, uh,--his twin brother, they were, uh, identical twins, and they immigrated, and his brother settled in England and had five children, whereas my father came over as a Schreiberg, but somehow either--they came in, actually, not through Ellis Island; they immigrated through Boston and ended up in Kentucky with a Shraberg instead of a Schreiberg, but we actually have, uh, a family, another brother immigrated and retained the name S-c-h-r-e-i-b-e-r-g, and they have, uh, family--we have family in Cincinnati called Schreiberg. So there's Schreiberg, Schraberg, Scherberg--uh, several of the family immigrated and their names changed depending on location. So, unfortunately, or fortunately, one of the most common problems I had growing up in Kentucky is people always put a C in 00:03:00between the S and the H, and it originally was, but we lost it somehow between Boston, when we came in through immigration in Boston and when my grandfather ended up in, uh, Lexington.
DONAHUE: Uh-hm. So it sounds like you keep in touch with some of your extendedfamily, you know where they all are--
SHRABERG: Yes. The Shraberg side, uh, we did keep in touch--because of thetwin brother connection and that another brother settled in Cincinnati, there's been a kind of a--we did--growing up, I actually visited several of my relatives in England when, uh, I was--actually, in 1968, when I was at the university I made my first trip to Europe to visit my older brother, who was in the service, had been discharged in Berlin and we met a bunch of our mishpochener (??) kin who were the twin brothers', my grandfather's twin brothers' kids. That was a real eye-opener, not only of the difference, to some extent, of English society 00:04:00at that time, the class system, and getting to meet, uh, relatives all over England--th-the five children settled in different parts of England, one of whom I met that never knew he was Jewish. He was raised in Scotland, his father died at a young age, and it was kind of interesting, I was the first person to let him know he was at least half Jewish. (laughs). It was fascinating. So yeah, we stayed in touch, and one of my cousins in England keeps a--nowadays, you know, with digitalization it's amazing, we actually have a Shraberg genie or, uh, where we can hook in all the relatives all over, uh, really, England--the Shrabergs ended up in England and the United States, a few in South Africa, and then they emigrated to Israel. Uh, of course probably the vast majority of the family in Lithuania were killed during the Holocaust, but enough got out that we have a substantial number of roots all over, uh,--a lot still in Kentucky and Ohio, uh, New York, and England.
DONAHUE: Interesting. That's wonderful that you can--that you can keep intouch with them. 00:05:00
DONAHUE: And what about your parents' occupations?
SHRABERG: Well, uh, my father was born--it's a funny story, my fa--and this isso touching in today's world. Of course, uh, my grandfather, uh, s--the story is that when they ended up in England--of course, back then you couldn't get on a plane, or you had to take a tedious route. (coughs). He didn't like England because of the class system, so he came to the United States, and he actually had some--uh, not him, but his--he was betrothed in the old country, Lithuania, to what became my grandmother, Sarah Munich (??), her name was, and, uh, he came to Lexington because some of her brothers, Ed Munich and Max Munich, lived here, and they were working--I think one was a butcher and one had a business. So when he came here, he came here like a lot of these European Jews did because he had some family. They just happened not to be in New York or Chicago, but in this little town of Lexington, uh, which is, uh, how he ended up here. And they 00:06:00s--told him there wasn't any work in Lexington, but you could go up to Somerset, Kentucky, and you could probably make a living there. So he actually lived in Somerset, Kentucky, a Lithuanian Jew who spoke no English, and he collected rags and ginseng. He would get on the-- ride the trains and buy ginseng, which was even then valuable, from the folks up in eastern Kentucky, and he made enough money to send for his bride. Picked her up on the train in Richmond, and because back then you didn't live with somebody, they actually got married in Richmond, Kentucky, and they lived in Somerset, uh, for about ten years. Uh, you know, an--this really has the other side of Kentucky, how wonderful Kentucky was. A doctor, uh, I can't remember his name, I think it was Dr. Whitehouse, was the obstetrician and family practitioner in Somerset, where they lived and rented space for this little Lithuanian Jew and this other--who spoke no English. The wife of the doctor taught my grandmother English, best she could, 00:07:00and, uh, they, you know, when times were not good they would let them forego a month's rent. So my father and my oldest--my uncle, who's the oldest, was born there, and my father was born by midwife in Somerset, and then when my aunt, the youngest, was born, uh, her name is Mary, which is not a Jewish name, but my grandmother was so thrilled, uh, and loved these people so much, she named my aunt after the wife of the doctor, the doctor's wife--
DONAHUE: --how interesting--
SHRABERG: --so, uh, they all moved to Lexington, uh, when my father was, Ithink, fourteen and my uncle sixteen, and the reason was that, as you can imagine, there were two Jewish families in Somerset, Kentucky, and back then, uh, the parents were not so concerned about the boys marrying outside the faith, I don't think they would have, but they were very worried about their daughter. So they moved to Lexington to be near a Jewish community, uh, although my father told me that on the High Holidays, and sometimes on Shabbat, they would drive 00:08:00down through the old, uh, I think it was called Hall's Gap--back then they didn't have the roads--uh, and there was part of it which went through the river, and there was a picture in the old family album of my uncle and my, uh, father pushing a Model T across the water so they coud get on the other side to go into Lexington to attend services and stay for the night with relatives. That's kind of the life they lived, and then they moved to Lexington around 1917, I think, my father and mother, uh, after they got married, uh, and my grandfather--I mean, sorry, my grandfather and my grandmother moved to Lexington around 1917.
DONAHUE: So why was it that they were not as concerned about the boys marryingoutside of the faith as they were about their daughter?
SHRABERG: Well, it may not--I think it was partly dating. For whatever reason,uh, I think the boys' dating was kind of a little less--it was much more of protective of females, that they just didn't want to trust their daughter falling in love with a gentile boy from, uh, Somerset, Kentucky. Whereas I 00:09:00guess they felt the boys were more acceptable. And that sort of extended in my generation, that, uh, the boys were less sheltered to some extent than the girls from the possibility of dating and, you know, possibly--not necessarily marrying, but dating, I should really say. They really wanted to come up to Lexington after my aunt became old enough, you know. She started elementary school here in Lexington, so, uh, they left and moved back--moved to Lexington. They had more family, and there was a temple here.
DONAHUE: Right, yeah.
SHRABERG: And a synagogue.
DONAHUE: So just to be sure I understand, do you think that, uh, yourgrandparents were not so concerned about the boys marrying outside of the faith, or are you just talking about dating?
SHRABERG: I really mean dating. I think marrying would have been verboten,been very upsetting. Intermarriage was, you know, not, uh--that generation, would have been a bad thing. I think both gentiles and Jews did not think of 00:10:00intermarrying. It was like, basically like an African American and a white, a Caucasian marrying. It was not--it was not done. Certainly it was considered not what a parent would want.
DONAHUE: Uh-hm. So they had that added impetus to move to Lexington for other children--
SHRABERG: To be around Jewish community, yes.
DONAHUE: And then, uh, what kind of work did they find once they came here?
SHRABERG: Well, my grandfather opened up--which is, again, traditional in therural part of this country. If you weren't a merchant, you had a scrapyard. Uh, they were like first-generation immigrants, they spoke broken English, so I, uh--they opened up a scrapyard, scrap metal and auto parts, in Lexington, uh, right off of, uh, Lyle Road, well, off Manchester Street originally, down in that area. So that's--they did scrap metal, and basically bought scrap iron par--junk and then they would sell it, you know, to purchasers for money.
DONAHUE: Sorry, this is your grandparents?
SHRABERG: My grandparents, yes, my grandfather. My--my grandmother Sarah00:11:00didn't work, she just talked on the phone all the time. (both laugh) In Yiddish, by the way, mainly. She spoke--that was her primary language, was Yiddish.
DONAHUE: Who was she talking to?
SHRABERG: Other Jewish women who spoke Yiddish, I think, you know. And if theydidn't speak Yiddish, she'd still speak Yiddish to them. I remember her on a little--she had a little dial phone, she loved to talk. She was a little--small little lady, about four-foot-ten, uh, and she just, uh--very powerful. She was sort of your classical Yiddishe momma. Both her sons and her daughter, uh, she ruled with an iron fist, but, uh, she was small, petite, but powerful. You know--this idea that, uh, the Jewish man, you know, goes to services and, and, you know, does all the praying, and the little Jewish woman stays home and, you know, takes care of the house, that was the kind of Eastern European model, but if my grandmother was an example, she was definitely the ruler of the household. I mean--she may not have had be--to learn Hebrew, she may not have had to go to synagogue and do all the things that the man did, but she took--they, of course, 00:12:00kept the home, and she, uh, all through my uncle's, and my uncle and father's lifetime, uh, they would always go to lunch, while she was alive, at her house, even after marriage. She'd insist they come have lunch, which didn't go down well with, maybe with their wives, but that's the way it was. She was a domin--dominating--little small, but dominating little lady who spoke broken English, and Yiddish was her first language.
DONAHUE: So your father was raised here in Lexington.
SHRABERG: My father moved to Lexington when he was about, I think, twelve orthirteen, or fou--fourteen. He was the middle child, uh, and he started school--he went to Henry Clay, the old Henry Clay High School here in Lexington, yes, and finished--that's kind of an interesting story, another immigrant story. Um, around the time that my father--he graduated early at sixteen. He was, I think, a very smart man, but my uncle had attended University of Kentucky, and 00:13:00my aunt. Uh, my grandfather David, who moved here, became sick with Hodgkin's disease, which is now curable, but back then it wasn't. So because he was the younger son and because his older brother was already in university, and because my aunt, who grew up in Lexington, was a girl, he had to pretty much forsake any further education, and he began working, uh, running the junkyard, uh, and worked there the rest of his life, and so helped send his brother through college here at UK, and then later on his sister. And then, of course that the--so my father never got beyond a high school degree, but he graduated at sixteen from the old Henry Clay here in Lexington.
DONAHUE: Okay. And what about your mother's family?
SHRABERG: Well, my mother's family, uh, that's an interesting Jewishconnection, because there weren't that many Jewish women to marry in Lexington, obviously. So, uh, my father fell in love with my mother on a blind date. Uh, 00:14:00in Lexington there were two, and I'm sure other people will tell you, this is very typical of these small Southern provincial towns, there was always--the old joke is, you know, if you have two Jews, you have three synagogues, one that one goes to, one the other, and one that neither go to. Well, we had a reform temple, and because we were close to Cincinnati, which is the reform Jewish movement, really, that's where it started in this country, uh, we had a very strong reform presence. Uh, the reform synagogue was primarily, uh, members were Ger--Jews of German extraction, older families, so they saw themselves as more the upper-class Jews. The synagogue was more settled by Eastern European Jews, who were more into the conservative, orthodox treatment. So my--to make a long story short, uh, my, uh--one of the rabbis at the synagogue, named Winnie Katz, married my mother's older sister. My mother grew up--they emigrated from 00:15:00Russia and lived in, uh--emigrated through Canada and grew up in Detroit and Chicago. So he got a job, Winnie Katz, as the rabbi here at, uh, the synagogue, Ohavay Zion, and so somehow she saw my father, my--and fixed a blind date up, brought my mother down from Chicago at the time, and they fell in love, and after two years of courtship they married. So it was through that connection that, uh, my mother's sister, for a period of time, lived in Lexington as the wife of a synagogue rabbi. (laughs).
DONAHUE: Oh, okay.
SHRABERG: So that's kind of a--and I actually still have their love letters.There's a huge shoebox, uh, which is fascinating, because, uh, somehow I fell into it. Back then, letter writing was an art. I mean--of course nowadays students don't even lea--learn cursive, but they communicated--they dated a few times, she'd come down for services, no hanky-panky. (laughs). You know, they 00:16:00might've kissed, and, uh, had all these wonderful love letters, both hers to him and him to her, some very romantic, two or three pages, beautiful script, so--
DONAHUE: This is your mother and father?
SHRABERG: Mother and father, yeah. So somehow I ended up with the shoebox,they're both deceased, of their love letters. And then they got married in Lexington, uh, in the, uh, uh, I think in the late thirties, right around the time World War II broke out.
DONAHUE: Uh-hm. So her family was from Chicago--
SHRABERG: Her family was from Chicago, uh--Detroit and Chicago, they lived inboth. They originally were from, uh, Russia, from, uh, an, uh, area called, uh, Berdichev, actually, which was a large Jewish town in, I think it's in Belarus or Ukraine, that area.
DONAHUE: Okay. And so--there wer--was a handful of Jewish families who wereinvolved in the, uh, scrap metal business in Lexington, is that right?
SHRABERG: That's right. The Shrabergs, uh--my uncle, uh, was in the Navy00:17:00during World War II. When he came back, because of, I guess, there wasn't much opportunity, he ended up working in the junkyard with my father. There was another family called the Bakers, uh, who were, uh, into scrap iron, and there was another family called the Gordons, and there was another guy named Schwartz, Izzy Schwartz. So there were like four scrap metal and car parts businesses in Lexington all run by Jewish families back in the fifties and sixties.
DONAHUE: And was there a sense of, of, competition among the differentfamilies, kind of trying to keep a corner on the market?
SHRABERG: Well, there was kind of a little competition. There was some, uh,you might say, selective marketing. My father, uh, primarily, uh--he had about fourteen acres of scrap cars, back in the day when you didn't have all the computerized stuff. So people, if they had a wreck or needed a part, would buy a quarter-panel or carburetor or brake drum, you hav--wouldn't go through the dealers. And he specialized in that area. He sold a lot of his scrap metal to either the Gordon family or the Baker family. So there was kind of a, you know, 00:18:00division, to some extent. Uh, there wasn't direct competition, although, you know, I think there might have been if my dad would've sold a lot of scrap iron to the government, you know, because they were really into scrap. So the Bakers would sometimes, you know, buy the scrap from my dad, and then they would crush it and sell it. So there was competition, but there was also a division, sort of, of specialization amongst the families, uh, in Lexington. So there was that going on too.
DONAHUE: Did you grow up helping out in the family business?
SHRABERG: I did. I wouldn't say helping out, that would be a little toograndiose. (laughs). When I was a teenager, I was more into, maybe not my dad's--I had one sister and a brother, and my brother played piano, he's a musician, he was really not into cars and junk. I got into it for a couple of years in the summer; the last two years of high school I, uh, worked in the scrapyard, and, uh, I learned more about human behavior and human--I'm a psychiatrist and neurologist, primarily a psychiatrist--I learned more about 00:19:00people working in the junkyard than I ever did taking any courses. It was, yeah--so it was fascinating. I really learned how you can make money, you know. I can remember a car would come into the yard that my dad's wrecker would pickup for like twenty-five dollars, and, uh, some guy would say, uh, "Hyman, I need those tires. How much will you give me those tires for?" He said, "I'll sell those to you for fifty dollars," he'd just take them right off the car before they went to the yard, so he'd make 100 percent profit right there, all in cash. So I said, this is an amazing business. I really learned--(laughs)--what business is all about, how you make money that way. It was fun, and I'd go out in the yard--this was before you had OSHA [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] and all that, you know, we'd burn--there'd be snakes out in that yard and we'd be burning quarter-panels off with torches and, you know. It's lucky I didn't get blown up. But it was fun. I did it for two summers and had a good time. In high school.
DONAHUE: Um-hm. What were your, uh--you said you had one brother and one sister?
DONAHUE: What were their names and ages, relative to you--00:20:00
SHRABERG: My brother's name was, uh, William Leonard Shraberg, and he was themiddle child. He was older than I. And then the oldest was my sister, which is kind of funny, because it sounds so Southern, her name was Nancy Ann Shraberg, and she was the eldest. So I was the youngest of three.
DONAHUE: Okay, so how much older were they--
SHRABERG: --my brother was, uh, three years older and my sister was five yearsolder. It was, uh--in one level, we grew up in a kind of, uh, Andy Hardy, "Leave It to Beaver" world. We--I was born in Chevy Chase, in a little elm-lined neighborhood, the--and it was very much, on the surface, a very, uh, you would think it was perfect. It was right out of "Leave It to Beaver." Tree-lined street on Cassidy Avenue.
DONAHUE: So you described how your parents had ties to both the synagogue andthe temple. How did you, uh--where did you attend services?
SHRABER: Uh, while my grandma--my grandmother, after my grandmother died, whom00:21:00I was named after, so he died in, I think, '46, I was born in '47--uh, my grandmother, for a number of years, uh, would live in Lexington after that, in her home on Kilmore Court, during the summer, spring, and fall. My aunt, who attended University of Kentucky, uh, married a New York boy, Jewish boy, and moved to New York, so during the summers--I got that reversed. In the summers, uh, my aun--grandmother would live in New York, in the winter she'd stay in Kentucky, fall, winter, because she wanted the weather better.
DONAHUE: And this was your Lithuanian grandmother?
SHRABER: Lithuanian--the Schreiberg, yes. So I would go to, uh--I'd have to goto services as a child, uh, in the synagogue. Uh, m--my parents, as my brother and sister got older, felt there were a lot more kids in the temple, and, uh, they--I think they liked the temple because it was reform and it was more part of, you know, it was more modern. It was user-friendly for Jews, you know, so 00:22:00they joined the temple. So all three of us--my brother and sister spent a year or two growing up in the synagogue, but we all switched over to the temple. But on holidays, High Holidays, we always had to go to the synagogue, because my--until my grandmother died--she moved permanently to New York sometime in the late fifties--uh, we had to attend High Holiday services there. And, uh, very often Passover, uh--sometimes we'd have to spend Passover with her, with her friends off of--a place called Kilmore Court, where there's a small--some Jewish communities near the synagogue. The old Joe Bologna's is over there. So, uh, I did go to the services, and, uh, the synagogue back then was very, very much more Eastern European. During the High Holidays, I remember--there's a part of the Yom Kippur service where the, uh, men of the congregation throw themselves on the floor and prostrate themselves because of what sin--it's very dramatic. 00:23:00Uh, and I can remember as a child being kind of, just, I was almost like terrified, what's going on, like somebody's having a stroke. But these men would throw themselves on the floor. You don't see that in the synagogues anymore, at least most of them. So it was a dif--very much of an old world, there was a dramatic difference back then between the synagogue, which was right out of--could have been right out of a Eastern European little shtetl, orthodox or conservative, versus the temple, which was very modern and American. So obviously, growing up as a kid, I really liked going to the temple, the service was more English and it was more American to me, it's more what I could identify with.
DONAHUE: Right, right. Did anyone who attended the synagogue then look moreorthodox? I mean, was there a difference in--
SHRABERG: Some of them would. Some of them would wear the beard. Of coursethey would wear the--at services they would definitely wear the tallit and the coverings. You couldn't necessarily tell the difference by looks. You didn't have the Hasidic, you know, Eastern European, uh, you know. But everybody knew which families in Lexington were synagoguers, so to speak, and who were the 00:24:00temple people, and it generally broke down along the lines of the older--(clears throat)--German Jewish families were temple and the other, Russians and Eastern Europeans, were synagogue people, although there were some exceptions.
DONAHUE: How did the numbers divide? Were they--about how many were there ineach congregation as you were growing up?
SHRABERG: As--well, interestingly enough, very quickly after World War II, uh,the, uh, temple grew very much more moder--there were a lot of changes in, in Jewish life, I think, in Lexington and I think all over the country. Uh, it was much more user-friendly, uh, as far as you could go to services on a Friday and you'd have your weekend if you wanted. Uh, there were lots more kids that were, uh, in the temple, uh, and it's sort of been that way traditionally over the last forty years. So more and more, the temple, temple grew, the synagogue kind of stayed at a similar size, you know. I think right now in Lexington, the 00:25:00synagogue has maybe 200 families, the temple 300-plus families. But for a while there were hardly any kids, uh, in the, uh, temple. My parents joined the temple partly, my--and again, this has something to do with how times have changed. When I was growing up, girls did not have the traditional bar--bat mitzvah, which is the female bar mitzvah. It wasn't done. Women in the old world weren't expected to learn Hebrew or do any of that, they just learned to be a good Jewish wife and listen to their husband. (laughs). I mean, so, my--but when my brother became of age, uh, my parents really wanted to join--they liked the temple, uh, and by then my grandmother was only here during, for the High Holidays and Passover, so they didn't have to placate her, but, uh, for a period of time, because they wanted to be modern--the German reform movement, a lot of temples did not, uh, do bar mitzvahs, uh, but they started doing bar mitzvahs about a year or two before my brother was to be bar 00:26:00mitzvahed, so that really--my parents joined at that point. I think my brother was the second or third, uh, boy that was bar mitzvahed at the temple here in Lexington. Before then, they didn't do it, because it was not reform. So they joined on that basis, and, uh, I don't know how we got to that question, but that's how we ended up over there. I think that's where a lot of families with children then started joining, when bar mitzvahs became, uh, part of the temple life, because that kept a lot of people who would've wanted to join away, because they wanted their sons, originally, bar mitzvahed, and of course it's now their daughters and sons.
DONAHUE: Right. So your sister did not have a bat mitzvah.
SHRABERG: She did not have a bat mitzvah. She was not expected, really, tolearn Hebrew. She did have a confirmation service, uh, which was kind of a reform touch. That's a service they have for, I think it's, uh, Shavuot, the, the spring festival. Um, maybe it is Shavuot. Uh, which they had a confirmation service. Uh, there's actually a picture I could bring in, it's not 00:27:00part of the university, it's a picture of my sister and brother holding flowers for their confirmation service when they were little, but just those two kids, Jewish kids--
DONAHUE: We'd love to see that.
SHRABERG: I could bring that--yeah, it was in--that's about sixty years old.So it was part of that reform life. I'll bring that picture in of Lexington. Uh, I can't remember what--it was Shavuot, yeah. Shavuot's the spring holiday, and that's confirmation in the reform. So my sister went through a confirmation, but she never was bat mitzvahed, wasn't expected to, she didn't really learn Hebrew. She wasn't expected because she was a girl back then, and she was born in the, uh, the forties.
DONAHUE: Did you--were the Jewish, um, rituals important to you? Did you enjoythem? Did you enjoy going to temple? What did it mean to you as a child--(Shraberg clears his throat)--and a young man?
SHRABERG: Uh, I enjoyed going to temple. Uh, it was very difficult growingup--it's much more difficult growing up Jewish in rur--Lexington, Kentucky in 00:28:00the forties and the fifties than it is now. Uh, I grew up in a neighborhood in Chevy Chase, where, uh, there was one or two other Jewish families, uh, but going to elementary school, you know, uh, you really were forced to have a Jewish identity, you know, especially during Christmas. I always remember everybody's Santa Claus came but mine. "Why did I kill Jesus," and I said, I have nothing to do with killing Jesus. I was asked this question when I was ten years old. (laughs).
DONAHUE: Who asked you that?
SHRABER: Kids. This was a different world. Political correctness was not--soseveral people said, "Why did you kill Jesus?" I remember when I was like ten or eleven, second and third grade. So I, I learned to be a fairly pugnacious person, got into a little few fights. But then I would have to say, my friends, uh, almost all my friends were gentiles that I ran with. Uh, and so growing up in Lexington, as far as rituals, yeah, I mean, you were forced to identify as a Jew, and you had to go through, uh, crises when you were a little kid. Santa Claus didn't come to your house, and originally I couldn't understand it. 00:29:00Originally I thought it was just because I was Jewish. Then I realized there was no Santa Claus, and it made it a lot easier for me. But, uh, you know, so I was forced to, uh--and I loved our temple, I must say. Our temple, uh, was on Ashland Avenue, it was an old building, it's over 100 years old now, and back then it had no air-conditioning, but it looked like a church. I think for a while it might've been a Baptist church, I was told, so they had those big arching windows, and the windows were open, so--yeah, I enjoyed it. We had an organ and a choir, which was very reform-ish. Uh, so the rituals I enjoyed were going to--my father liked going to services. Uh, again, Lexington was more segregated, so Jews--much of the social outlet of adult Jews was going to temple, going to oneg, which is, you know, after-temple social on Fridays. My father very much loved to go to the temple, so we would have to go with him growing up, and the High Holidays. I, I had a love-hate relationship with the High Holidays because of the, uh, long, seemed so long to be in the temple. And 00:30:00you know, it's kind of interesting, uh, I very early realized perfect attendance wasn't important, because back then you did--had an unexcused absence for the High Holidays, so, you know, early in my life as a kid in elementary school, I realized I could never have perfect attendance. Nowadays, kids can get away with it because it's an excused holiday if you're Jewish. But I enjoyed the High Holidays. Probably my favorite holiday was, uh--and we had religious school on Sunday, but I loved, uh--Passover was always a lot of fun. We had a lot of fun, even at our house. Uh, for many years, Passover--I think for most Jewish kids in elementary school a--age, it's the most impressionable holiday, because it's such a happy holiday. And Hanukkah was fun too. Hanukkah was fun.
DONAHUE: Did you have, uh--did you always have Passover at your parents' house,or did you go elsewhere?
SHRABERG: A couple of years, uh, we had to go to my, uh, uh, my grandmother'shouse on Kilmore Court, and, uh, I have this memory of all these old Jewish 00:31:00families lived on this little court right off--it was right across the street from what's now Rupp Arena. They tore all that down to make that parking lot, but there used to be two--a couple of little courts off High Street, they were circular, just cul-de-sacs. Kilmore Court had about six Jewish families there, incl--and they were all shtetl Jews. I mean, a lot of the Jews of Lexington actually originated from Lithuania, because like on my grandfather's part, they had an uncle or something, it's right out of Fiddler on the Roof, I have an uncle, or the man, uh, you know, the brother of the woman I'm going to marry lives there, blah, blah, blah, so they all knew each other, some of them from the old country. So, uh, one or two Passovers I had to spend there with my parents. Once they left me there alone. I don't know if it was a punishment or what--they went to another one--and it went on forever. I mean, oh, I have memories of that. But after that, most of my life it was at our house on Cassidy Avenue, and it was really nice. You know, my dad had what I would consider a reasonable Seder, it wasn't too short but it certainly wasn't too long. And we had all our--my brother and sister, and always friends and a few 00:32:00relatives would pop in from different parts of the country. So it was a wonderful holiday. Yeah. I always have liked Passover, it's my favorite holiday--Hanukkah was nice when you were young, but Passover is one that sticks with you, I think, if you love holidays, as far as happy holidays, you know Judaism has so many, I want to say somber holidays too. (laughs).
DONAHUE: Right, yeah. And, uh, so did you re--resent at all the--you mentioneda little while ago that--the, the frustration of being told by some of your peers, "Oh you--Why did you kill Jesus?" And did you--that you were one of the few Jews in a predominantly Christian culture. Did you resent that at all, or did you feel pride in your Jewish identity?
SHRABERG: Well, that's where I think kids are so much lucky nowadays. I don'tthink there was the pride movement, I think you had to go through these crises. At first there was a sense of "What did I do wrong that Santa Claus didn't come 00:33:00to my house", then "What do you mean I killed Jesus?" And uh, but, you know, kids, uh, pretty much say what their parents think, so I realized--so, when I was probably in second or third grade at Cassidy School, uh, several classes I was the only Jew in my class, you know, anti-Semitism, I became more aware of it. Uh, there were lots of elements--I was a pretty aware kid, so even though all my best friends were Jewish, uh, I know one of my best friends I grew up with was a Protestant family, a very old--old Lexington family that lived across the street, and his father--grandfather had been city manager and all this. Uh, he told me his mother complained a couple of times that we were best friends, because I was Jewish, you know. So there was a lot of--and they were members of Lexington country club, which didn't allow Jews back then or Idle Hour, it was known they would not allow Jews. So, you know, later on it became awkward, when 00:34:00I was in elementary school, uh, yeah, those sort of things. So how you react is either you're ashamed or you're, you know, defensive and pugnacious. So, you know, uh, I wasn't ashamed. Uh, sometimes there'd be--if I was in a crowd of kids and they brought up an anti-Semitic remark, like "Jew you down" or talk about a Jew somehow, uh, I'd have to say I'm Jewish, because a lot of times they didn't know, you know. My mother was blond-haired and blue-eyed, she looked more like a Ukrainian than a Jewish--(laughs)--so she would catch that all the time, and, and she would--she was very pugnacious in Lexington if somebody made a comment about a Jew in front of her, "Oh, that's a Jew," and she'd say, "You know, I'm Jewish," and they'd say, "Oh, I didn't know that, I'm sorry." But it was really a mix between being ashamed sometimes and trying to stand up for yourself. It was tough as a kid back then, like I said. I mean, you miss school and you--you know, the unexcused absences I always thought was unfair for the Jewish holidays. Uh, but I was very popular, I made a lot of friends, uh, 00:35:00in elementary school. You know, I can't say it was that bad. For example, my parents had one family in Lexington where we actually exchanged gifts for Christmas and Hanukkah together, who were Christians. So we--and then I had one of my best friends, my other best friend who wasn't the Protestant was a Catholic, because we lived on Cassidy Avenue two blocks from the old Christ the King Church, so there were Catholics, and he and I became best friends too, one of my two best friends when I was little, and every Christmas, their names were the Martins, they would have me over Christmas Eve at their house and I'd spend the night, and then I'd get a Christmas present in the morning. So that's the other side of American life. You would never have that in Europe, you know. There was that wonderful acceptance. And I loved Mr. Martin, he was such a great guy. He was a good man. Uh, he'd have a beer or two and--you know, growing up as a little boy Jewish in Lexington was problematic. I'll tell you 00:36:00another funny story. I know we have to get to UK, but this is an honest to God story. For a period of time, our neighbors who moved in next door to us were Southern Baptists, and, uh, when they found out we were Jewish, they put--took a petition in the neighborhood to have us either thrown out of the neighborhood or convert. Can you believe that? This was--this would be about 1957. The neighbor on the other side was a lady named Mrs. Broth (??). Mrs. Broth, uh, was a widow. She hated Franklin Roosevelt, not because she was a Republican, but that her only son had died in World War II. She kept a beautiful garden. But God bless Mrs. Broth, when he brought the petition to her, and she was all piss and vinegar, apparently she told the guy, "I'm going to get your ----------(??) out of this neighborhood, you've got to leave. You don't belong here." So she had her high points.
DONAHUE: Good for her.
SHRABERG: Their names were the Kennedys, I remember, and they disappeared aftera year or so, left the neighborhood. That's a true story. So being Jewish was 00:37:00kind of a different world back--that's a true story, because I remember my parents talking about it, and I said that's just--so there was that current of, growing up, but--day-to-day life was great, but you'd have those moments. Uh, the Christmas play. This is something that people would identify with. I think I was in the second or third grade, every kid--one of those grades, we did the Christmas play that year at the elementary school, so we were all expected to take a part, even--I was Jewish, so I had to be--I think I was one of the three wise men in the Christmas play. I didn't mind, but looking back on it, you know, there was that pressure. And there was ----------(??) I said, well, maybe I want to be Christian, maybe being Christian would be so much nicer. You know, of course, looking back on it, that's nave. So yeah, I mean, you really had to--you were forced to hold on to an identity, you had to. If not, you would be lost. But there were periods in which you were hurt or upset or like, why does it have to be that way, it seems sort of silly. But that's the way it was.
DONAHUE: Did your parents or your brother and sister talk to you about--or00:38:00support you, tell you kind of how to maintain your identity in the face of things like that, or did you--did you kind of keep it inside of yourself?
SHRABERG: I pretty much kept it inside of myself. Uh, my brother was amusician, so, you know, he, uh, played classical piano, was in the state finals. He was very much into that, uh, and he basically tutored bar and bat mitzvahs. Uh, and my sister really pretty much--she was an assimilationist, she joined the sororities in high school and tried to sort of make believe. Even though she had a Jewish identity, she was less, not really Jewish-Jewish. So no, I mean, I just sort of, each one of us had to go our own way and find our own--how we fit in the community. Uh, I mean, we all knew we were Jewish, and there were always little family conflicts. I remember one Christmas, the three of us, I must've 00:39:00been about ten then, we tried to sneak in a small Christmas bush, and my mother said no, can't have a Christmas bush. (laughs).
DONAHUE: It's interesting, because someone else who was interviewed for thisproject described how his, you know, even though his family was very devoted to their Jewish identities, they did have a Christmas tree every year, and it was sort of just a concession to the predominant culture.
SRABERG: And I would give my mother credit for that. They really made a--theywould not--they didn't--that was a line they would not close, they would not make a--we were not--we did not have seafood in the house, which is kind of silly, because when we went out to eat, my dad would order shrimp cocktail. But we were not--we had no pig products in the house. There were certain areas in which they would not--their generation would not cross the line.
DONAHUE: Did they keep two sets of dishes?
SHRABERG: No. They were very reform otherwise. It was kind of a funny--it wasa funny sort of compromise. And you know, and it kind of gave me a better 00:40:00understanding of what I say is religion versus religiosity. Not that I have disrespect for people who do that, but, you know, they didn't have the two sets of dishes, uh, they really--you know, we would have--we had an African American maid, okay, or whatever you want to call it, that raised us, so we would have fried chicken, we would have beef with sauce on it. They weren't strict kosher at all, but certain things, like no pig products, no pork or bacon were ever allowed in the house, uh, no seafood, and no Christmas tree. (laughs). No Hanukkah lights in the front of the house back then. So they really did--you know, our house was dark for Christmas every year. So, you know, looking back on it--unfortunately my kids tend to bend those edges a little bit--I think it was important, because, you know, you don't want to--if you're going to have an identity, you have to maintain some--I think it's harder in our society ---------(??), because it was--there were so many other restrictions on being Jewish, that you sort of had to make some identity things, you know. You weren't allowed--well, for example, in Lexington growing up, they used to have 00:41:00cotillion. This goes back to the Jewish boy, Jewish girl. There was a shortage of boys of a certain socioeconomic class to be cotillion, so Jewish boys were often invited to be in cotillion, which is the fancy-schmancy dances they have. The girls weren't. Jewish girls were not, because they were Jewish -----------(??). So there were those messages that you are different, so, you know, in a way, why would we want to have a tree if they're not going to allow me to be, you know--and I was very early aware, I don't know, I've always been sensitized by the Holocaust, I don't know why, that even if you convert, you know, what happened in Europe wasn't making any difference. So you had an ounce of Jewish blood in you, you could be exterminated, even if you were two or three generations Christian. So I very much was, you know, I guess I had a different approach to it. Not that I think that Jews are special, but I think that it takes a special person, maybe, to maintain the Jewish faith, especially in Lexington, Kentucky. It's a little harder than if you lived in New York or Chicago, somewhere you had a lot of Jews around. 00:42:00
DONAHUE: Right. So how did you learn about the Holocaust? Because youwouldn't have been taught about it in school.
SHRABERG: No. I don't know when I first became aware of it, but uh, I'vealways been--that's always been a very--I don't know why, I've always been sensitive, I think because--I was born in 1947, and my brother and sister were born in the early forties. My dad was exempted from service because he had a scrap metal yard, which was considered a vital business. His brother was in the service, he wasn't. And I think that for me, when I first became aware of it, somehow I was struck, and I must have been around bar mitzvah age, that there that--there would have been lots of kids my age who never were bar mitzvahed because they were killed. And I always felt that I had a certain responsibility. I was very sensitive about that, you know, if I had been born--if either set of my parents had not immigrated to this country, I would never have been bar mitzvahed, I'd probably never have been alive. So I felt a kind of sadness that all the--that whole generation of, uh--and I also think 00:43:00that, you know, Jews worldwide, that that was almost a devastating knockout blow for the Jewish people. I mean, they lost one-third of their population, and probably the richest cultural fount. The United States Jewish community came from Eastern Europe, uh, and, you know, that was the cultural fount for this, the brilliance of, you know, the flowering of the American Jewish community, and it was just cut off by the head by the Holocaust. I don't think we've recovered yet. I mean--so, going back, I don't know why I've always--I'm a psychiatrist, maybe that's it, it makes me sensitive to things like that, the, the devastation. But just, I've always had that feeling, even--uh, I was bar mitzvahed at the temple when I was thirteen, and I celebrated my fifty-fifth anniversary by reading Torah again, the same Torah portion, and I remember saying how I still feel so lucky, blessed to be here, that I would have never been able to either if I'd have just been born in a different place, a small 00:44:00village instead of Lexington. It could've been somewhere like Vilna, Lithuania, I never would've made my bar mitzvah. There's a lot of blessings being in America, you know. When I talk about these things, I always realize, you know, the type of anti-Semitism, not that it can create violen--there has been violence occasionally in the South, but nothing like what happened in Europe, or it never has been. Americans are much more, generally speaking, in my opinion, pleasant, good people. Ignorant like all--we're all ignorant of each other, but I don't think it's anything like it would've been in Europe, ever has been in this country. We're blessed by what we have here.
DONAHUE: So where did you attend school, elementary and junior high and high school?
SHRABERG: I grew up in one house on Cassidy Avenue, and I walked to CassidyElementary School, and that was grades kindergarten to sixth, and then Morton Junior High, and then I graduated Henry Clay. So uh, my father--so I was a 00:45:00third-generation--my, uh, grandfather--I'm sorry, my father graduated Henry Clay and I graduated Henry Clay, so second-generation. So I went to the, back then, the classic three schools. Lexington was, again, a different town. You know, you had two major schools, Henry Clay and Lafayette, that was before Tates Creek, and, sadly, you had the African American schools, Dunbar and Douglass, so there was--I wasn't even aware of segregation growing up, and now I realize how much there was. So I went to the three--what were the--that was the classic--I didn't know how special it was at the time, but yeah, that was the three schools I went to.
DONAHUE: So you weren't aware--you had an African American maid. Was she theonly black person that you had any contact with?
SHRABERG: Growing up, uh, yes, until high school. I remember one or twostudents. Norma Davis, I remember, or Norma Johnson, who was a social worker, and I think she's deceased, was one of the students there. But yeah, uh, 00:46:00Lexington was a very--it was segregated. People, yeah, I mean, there were no African Americans, certainly till I got to late years at Henry Clay, the last year or two. And just a few. It was very, very segregated. There was Dunbar and Douglass, and Henry Clay and Lafayette, and then later Bryant Station. Uh, it was--it was de facto segregation in the school system, yeah. Uh, and the movie theaters. Uh, the old Ben Ali theater, I tell these stories, was originally an opera house. It was a movie theater downtown, a really nice one, I wasn't even aware of it. We used to go in--there was a white entrance on Main Street to the first floor and the first balcony. There was a third balcony that had blacks only on, uh, Upper Street. So we used to sneak up to the third balcony to throw, you know, Red Devils on people. And that was the first time I 00:47:00realized there were all these African American people on the third balcony at that movie theater, because it was segregated. That was when I was probably ten or eleven.
DONAHUE: --what did that make you think?
SHRABERG: You know, sadly enough, I never really thought, uh--you know, my--wedid not hear the N-word in our family, and of course being Jewish, we were very--it's such a paradox. We were very sensitive to discrimination, because we were discriminated against. Uh, but, uh, you know, I never really realized it till probably the civil rights movement, how segregated, and yet, you know, being Jewish--and I think that being Jewish was a double-edged sword, because obviously we were lumped--you know, the Klan, the Ku Klux Klan didn't like Catholics, Jews, or African Americans. We were all three--(laughs)--you know, not considered part of the club. Uh, so I--but I didn't realize, you know, certainly I had it far better off than African Americans did growing up in Lexington. And, uh, my father was a very, uh, fair man. I mean, he, he--like I 00:48:00said, he was not--we never heard the N-word. Jews used the term schwartze for African Americans. It's a Yiddish word, but, you know, some people would consider that a slang--unfair, derogatory term, but, uh, my father was a very fair--in his junkyard, there was one of his workers who was an African American that on his birthday got drunk, threw a lady out on the street, she died, he went to prison. Back then, that could've been a death sentence, but he was--my father rehired him. He had to be rehired back then after a five-year stint to work, which kind of was being pretty gutsy back then in the sixties. So he was a very fair man, uh, but yeah, how did it make me feel? It's amazing how ignorant you can be of a lot of things if it doesn't affect you. Here I was, I was aware I wasn't allowed in the country clubs, I had friends who would take me to swim at Idle Hour or Lexington Country Club, and I would feel awkward because I knew the only reason--I would never--my family could never be a member there 00:49:00because we were Jewish, but I could come as their guest. I could go to cotillion, but Jewish girls couldn't dance at cotillion. But as far as that--they had a black entrance, an African American entrance to the movie theater, and that you never saw--I had no African American friends going to school, and I had an African American maid, we called them maids back then. Who I was very close with. I've actually met--when she died I was--I went to see her many years ago, a number of years ago. No, I mean, it was a dichotomy, it's so unjust and yet yeah, you just didn't make the connection. And I think you probably didn't want to make the connection, because if you made the connection, you'd have to stand up against it, like so many people did later on. So yeah, I mean, when it happened, I was all for it, but I have to say, I never was that vocal ----------(??), but I realized how ridiculous it really was, the whole thing. But as a kid, it's strange. I never, you know, I never was prejudiced in the sense that I said anything or felt prejudice, because I realized how much 00:50:00I was a victim of prejudice, I had that much insight. But as far as saying, whoa, this is wrong, no. I think a lot of Southern Jews particularly will tell you that.
DONAHUE: Yeah, I think that's common.
SHRABERG: And when you're a kid, you just don't even think it, you know? Inever thought, well, wait a minute, there's, you know, ten or fifteen percent of Lexington's African American. Why aren't any of these kids in my school? But then I knew there was, uh, you know, the two high schools were all African American. We didn't have Hispanics back then, that was it. Lexington was just a--it was what I call a black dirt Southern town, white Anglo-Saxon Protestant. And a drinking, you know, a gentleman's town, so to speak, you know. I would say a red dirt town is more Baptist and they don't drink, but this is more, you know Episcopalian and everybody drinks. Most of my friends were, you know, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, or Catholics, and they were all party--they liked to live, but, uh, none of my friends growing up were African American till I made one or two sort of acquaintances in high school, started to--but yeah, 00:51:00totally nave, even as a Jew. Maybe it's partly me and the other Jews may say differently, but I was just not aware of it.
DONAHUE: Um-hm. So you graduated in 1964, is that right?
SHRABERG: I graduated Henry Clay in 1965.
DONAHUE: Okay. And then you headed to UK that year. What made you decide toattend UK for college?
SHRABERG: Frankly, just lazy. I was shiftless, I had no direction, uh, veryun-Jewish, I guess. My brother went to University of Rochester, my sister went to Michigan. Uh, partly it was my Jewish mother, I was the youngest, she didn't want me to leave home. So I said, well, I'll just go to UK, which was kind of unusual. A lot of Jews in Lexington, usually they'd go away to school, or if you weren't, well, I shouldn't say, smart, there was always Indiana, this is a big Jewish campus. Uh, I had like a 3.6 or 3.7 in high school, so I could've gotten into a lot of colleges. I just didn't know what I wanted to do, so I said--and I was playing in a rock-and-roll band back then, too, by the way. So 00:52:00I stayed in Lexington with my band for about the first two years when I attended UK, so I just--it was actually kind of just like, okay, I got to go to college, let's go to UK. It was cheap. I think the first year my tuition was like $140 or something for a semester. (laughs).
DONAHUE: That's changed, hasn't it?
SHRABERG: Oh, God, it was cheap, and I had a car, and I could live at home. SoI thought, this is just nice. I lived on Cassidy Avenue in Chevy Chase, it was a ten minute drive to campus, I could park on Columbia Avenue, no parking problems, walk on the campus. So I just started school and yeah, it was more default. I didn't want to work, so I figured I'll go to college, and my parents, like most immigrant families, neither one of my parents had more than a high school degree. They really, really emphasized you've got to have a college degree, you've got to go to college, so I figured, hey, not only do I got to go to college, then I don't have to work full time, so let's do it. (laughs).
DONAHUE: Tell me about your band.
SHRABERG: The band was called the Titans, and we were--there were two other big00:53:00bands in Lexington, the Dorkays (??) and the, uh, Mag 7. I played keyboard, and, uh, we actually started in--uh, back then, that was the era of the big bands in the 1960s, so we played these, uh, pretty good gigs and all. We didn't have--we just didn't have the technology we have now for DJs and stuff, so we had all these instruments, they were not digital, had a huge Hammond organ, two keyboard, big instruments. It was a big band, and we were very--we had an agent. Uh, we actually had to join the musicians union, the AFL-CIO, when I was sixteen, and we played, uh, cotillions, we played, uh, some proms, we played fraternity parties, and we did all over the state, played for Pikeville high school prom two years in a row, uh, and did a lot of fraternity parties here, Thursdays and Fridays at UK. That's when I first had exposure to UK fraternities and saw the good and the bad. (laughs). And we made pretty good money. Back then it was, I think we made fifteen dollars a person, which would 00:54:00be more like--you're talking the 1960s, so you're really talking almost 100 dollars a person. I made enough money to not only buy my organ and tone cabinet, which cost about 1,800 dollars, but to, uh, fund my first trip to Europe back in--when I went there in '68 when I was a student. It was a lot of fun and it taught me--I loved music, so, uh, it was fun. So we were called the Magnificent Titans. Cold war, the Titan was one of the first intercontinental ballistic missiles, so our card--this is how weird it was, it had a card, it had a missile going up saying "Soaring to new heights in music." (laughs). It was a nuclear ballistic missile. But the Titan was one of the original ICBMs [intercontinental ballistic missiles] in the United States arsenal, so we were the Titans. So, uh, yeah, so that was another reason I stayed here, bcause one or two members of the band--it was about an eight-person band. Actually, our sax player was Jewish too. We had one sax who grew up around the block from me. He was the only other--one of the two Jewish friends I had. So yeah, we 00:55:00went--I played two years while I was UK in the band too.
DONAHUE: So you said you played organ, and what was the second thing?
SHRABERG: Keyboard. Electric piano and organ, yeah.
DONAHUE: What did you study at UK?
SHRABERG: Well, I can tell you my first year at UK--I was an undeclared majorthe first two years. I had no idea what--I think I was very immature. I was a good student, but I had no idea what I wanted to do. I absolutely loved college. I loved--high school to me was very--I'm kind of a hyperactive guy anyway, and it was so regimented, you know, I mean. I was one of the kids--me and a couple of other guys would take off in the sixth hour, you know. We were not the best behaved type. So I loved college, because you could go to class, and then when you didn't have to go to class, you didn't have to go to study hall, you could just wander around. So I was undecided the first two years. I wish I still had the hat. The class of '69, the class that entered in 1965, was 00:56:00the last class that had to wear the UK beanie. I don't know if anybody ever told you about that.
SHRABERG: We were all issued a beanie, a round beanie with a top, and it said"'69" on it. It was from the old tradition of the hazing of freshmen. That was still part of that old tradition, and then they disappeared. We got a new president, I can't remember the one that came, and said, enough of that silliness, you know. So if I had that, that would be priceless. It was a beanie that said "'69," we all were supposed to have to wear on campus, you know, like freshmen. I think the sixties were coming, so some people said, this is stupid, we're not going to do it. But we were issued a beanie. Uh, and the campus was very, you know, a beautiful campus back then. A lot of the old buildings are still here. This was just before they broke ground for the office tower. The big skyscraper dorms weren't there. So it was a lovely--it was sort of the last phase of the old agricultural, mechanical, liberal arts college, you 00:57:00know. It was going through that rapid transition of the sixties that everywhere. So my first year or two, I sort of--I loved arts and science, but I kind of started taking science courses because I was good at it, and so--and during that period of time, there was--there were more Jews from out of state than in state in the school. There maybe were three or four Jews that were actually from Lexington, and the rest of them were from out--there were a lot of Jews who came from the Northeast. That's where I met--I was kind of the yokel, you know? I met Jews from New York and New Jersey, because a lot of them still, a lot of people from there, not only Jewish, come to UK because the tuition is friendly and they like UK. So, uh, the first two years were just, I played in the band, I went to school, I lived at home, uh, kept some of my same friends. And, uh, I had, I think it was in the second year that I decided that maybe I should be more social, so I decided to join a fraternity, and that's when I 00:58:00really became more aware of all the anti-Semitism that was still on the campus. Uh, just my experience was--there was one Jewish fraternity, ZBT, which is still around. Uh, the ZBT that year that I pledged, uh, had just taken over what was the old Sigma Nu house, it may still be there, off Rose Street, I can't remember whether it's Rose and--Columbia and Rose Street there. They had been, I think, expelled for a few years for some violation party, so the house was leased to ZBT at that time. So I pledged--when I went on the fraternity pledge, I became acutely aware of the rampant racism and anti-Semitism in the fraternity system at that time. This would be probably '67. You know, there was no question that Jews were not welcome, certainly African Americans--I don't think I saw an African American in the pledge bus. There were one or two little fraternities, maybe Lambda Chi, I think, were maybe interested in having a token Jew. And of course ZBT welcomed me with--they wanted the Jews. And, uh, so I thought, ah, 00:59:00you know, I'll go ahead and become a Zebe, so I pledged and was a member of ZBT for about a year before I quit. (laughs). That's another--I just--I thought that--I understand being Jewish, you want to be part of the fraternity system, but then I think sometimes imitation's not necessarily flattery. I was not really impressed with fraternities at all. I just thought, you know, to me, and I know they do good work, but to me it was all hypocrisy. It was just a way for a bunch of boys and girls to get together, possibly breed, uh, with the same class, party a lot, and then use the excuse that you're doing good deeds, you know, blah blah blah, the Greek model, you know, we're going to be like the Greeks of ancient Greece, noble, which is silliness, it's a travesty. The ancient Greeks would laugh at it. And I just, after a year I was one of the--I had to go through the process of resigning from ZBT, which its hard to get out of a fraternity, it's almost as hard as leaving the Mob, but I was able to get out after a year. It just didn't work for me. And I really thought they were trying to imitate the gentiles at their own game, and it's silly. So I made my 01:00:00own set of friends. You're asking how I ended up becoming a doctor. I don't know what it's like here now, but the first two years you could be undecided, then you had to declare. And, uh, I will tell you one interesting thing about Jewish life at UK. Uh, our fra--the ZBT fraternity, most of the Jews were from New York and New Jersey. They were nice guys. The president was a gentile, an Italian guy named Joe something, DiMasso or something, great guy. And that's the first time I learned something about human behavior. It's like, you see this so often in societies where you get a group of people of the same religion or the same faith together, to have a leader you'd better get somebody outside the faith. (laughs). Because he really was able to--all these guys, you know, would be arguing, and Joe was like a really good president, so it was kind of funny. That's where, you know, we had an Italian Catholic president for a Jewish fraternity. It's funny. But anyway, uh, my main social life when I was 01:01:00at UK, being Jewish, was--when I declared premed in my third year, I met more Jewish people. And Lexington became much more Jewish at that point, uh, because the medical center opened up in the early sixties, and that brought in a lot of Jewish--I don't recall one Jewish faculty member. I don't believe we had, back in the sixties, a Jewish studies--I don't know if they taught even Hebrew here. I knew Hebrew from my bar mitzvah. But once the university came, we had this influx of a number of Jewish professors and physicians--
DONAHUE: --once the medical center came.
SHRABERG: The medical center, yeah. We had a group of guys who were--eight ofus, and we would always go to lunch at different places. There was a hamburger place right here on the corner of Columbia and Rose, used to be called the Columbia restaurant, and we'd go there every day and have burgers after class. I mean, I must've eaten a billion cheeseburgers and fries. And, uh, there was one other Jewish guy in there, Arthur Jacobs, who was from Lexington, who became 01:02:00a physician and lives in St. Louis. The rest of them were non-Jews. And they were from all over the state, from Paducah and eastern Kentucky. And we were a little club together, because we all did premed. And there was real camaraderie. I mean, we would make jokes occasionally about each one's religion, but it was all just fun stuff, and there was a real acceptance because we all had the same goals of being physicians. And, uh, we ate a lot of different places. We sometimes would go up to the UK Lair, the K Lair, back then they would allow students to eat there with the athletes, not like it was nowadays, it's different. And same thing, so that was really my social outlet, all our premed guys, we became real good friends, and then when we got to be drinking age, we'd all, on the weekends, go to drink at the various, uh, bars here around campus, some of them--most of the ones I drank at are gone, except the Two Keys, I guess that's still here. All the rest have been torn down.
DONAHUE: So, let me just backtrack a little bit and ask you about the01:03:00fraternity experience when you were--did you try to join any other fraternities besides ZBT? What was the--how did you become aware of the anti-Semitism in the fraternities?
SHRABERG: It was very obvious when we were on the rushing. There were certainlittle comments and certain ways you were treated, uh, uh, that you knew that they weren't interested in you once they found out your name or found out you were Jewish.
DONAHUE: Can you remember specific examples?
SHRABERG: Uh, well, I remember the opposite example. I think at the Zebe housewhen I was there, there was one guy, who was obviously not Jewish, who said, "Well, these are bunch of Jews, you don't want to rush this place." I remember hearing that, which I found kind of the opposite. Uh, it was just known, it was just known. Which is kind of funny, because one of my dearest friends in the premed group, and we later went to medical school together, uh, was from Winchester, and later on, when we were medical students at Vanderbilt, he told 01:04:00me, "Yeah, you know, we were told not to rush any Jews." Because we were friends by then. Yeah, he was a Delt, Delta Tau Delta, Delt, throughout UK, but he wouldn't say anything about it then. But then when we got to medical school, you know, you grow up into a bigger world. It was just--you knew it, you know. I can tell you that being Jewish growing up in Lexington, if you went to, uh, like I said, a country club, you knew you weren't--you might be welcome as a friend of a member's son, but you wouldn't be welcome as a member of your family. You learned to read that, it's just an intuitive thing. You know, I think that, uh, retrospectively, when people say African Americans are paranoid, they're not paranoid. They learn very early, it's amazing how sensitive, you have any sensitivity, you know when you're not wanted. I knew at cotillion that I could dance, you know, what did they call those, the little dance things where 01:05:00you pick, you know, the no-break thing, you could do your no-break card and dance with all these girls, but you were not going to date those girls, because they were from gentile families and didn't want a Jew--so you knew all that, you knew the lines, it was a whole--
DONAHUE: So many unspoken rules.
SHRABERG: Unspoken rules, and just very subtle. I'm sure it was not just theSouth. I'm sure it's--but it was very obvious in a smaller community like Lexington. No Jews in the country club, no Jews in this or that, no Jews in any fraternity, uh, except ZBT. There were one or two that may--there was one other fraternity, maybe Lambda Chi expressed an interest in me, but it was like I was going to be their token.
DONAHUE: So ZBT, from what I understand, was starting to experience, by then, adecline in membership?
DONAHUE: And did you have a sense that other people, other of the fraternitybrothers, were experiencing what you were experiencing with just not feeling like there was a lot of meaning in it? 01:06:00
SHRABERG: Not a lot of meaning. I think the only place the Jewish fraternitiesthrive are on campuses where you have a fairly substantial Jewish population, where they feel like they can fit in. Here it was kind of like, okay, we're the default--we've joined this fraternity because no one else wants us, and we're kind of gonna--we're gonna play like the gentile boys, like we're fraternity boys. But yet, you know, we're not going to be able to be involved in any of the major events that these fraternities get involved in. So I think that really kind of put a damper on it. It probably succeeds--I know my brother-in-law was a Sammy, that's another Jewish fraternity. He went to Indiana, though, which has a huge--he's from Louisville, he's a Louisville Jew, and, uh, they have a huge Jewish student body, so I think they can blend in if they want to be fraternities. I--I'm not a big fan of fraternities, but that's just my opinion. But I--maybe it's a rationalization. But even after I joined them, I thought, well, this is silly, you know. Uh, the main reason I joined 01:07:00was, uh, dating Jewish girls, which were at a premium at the UK campus too. Couldn't find Jewish girls.
DONAHUE: Were you willing to date non-Jewish girls at all, or were you onlyinterested in dating Jewish girls at the time?
SHRABERG: Well, that was an interesting--when I was at UK, I was still underthe sense that I needed, if I was going to be serious, I should date--I did date some non-Jewish girls in high school, because there weren't any Jewish girls. Growing up in Lexington with a small Jewish community of girls, you know, we did garage dances, we went to religious school, we went to youth group stuff, so that it would be like serious dating would be like dating your sister or your cousin. It was just--it was such a--so I did date a few non-Jewish girls, but--(coughs)--it was just high school dating. By the time I got to UK, I was still under the idea that, uh, you know, you only date Jewish girls, and one of the only--that was the other reason I joined ZBT, because they kind of had a way of bringing Jewish girls in for dating, so you could date some Jewish girls. 01:08:00Uh, I didn't get out of that till I got to medical school, then I sort of was able to, uh--my wife's a converted Jew, so--she was Roman Catholic originally, so obviously got away from that. I was the first in my generation to marry a non-Jew. My sister married a Jewish boy. So I did break the mold. But yeah, in college, I think, uh, almost everybody was--some of the fraternity guys would date non-Jewish girls, but I think the idea of a serious relationship, possibly marriage, Jewish. And there were not a lot of Jewish coeds at UK, not many at all.
DONAHUE: About how many? Do you have a sense?
SHRABERG: I think a lot less than the men. Again, it goes back to this Jewishideal. It's okay to send the boys to a school which is majority gentile, they can date, but, you know, they're not going to marry, but you don't want to send your girls. God forbid they fall in love and they want to marry a non-Jewish boy. So we didn't have a lot of Jewish girls here. I dated a girl for a year or two from, uh, Louisville, but there were not that many. It was much more 01:09:00disproportionately guys from other states, particularly the Northeast, than girls.
DONAHUE: Um-hm. So you mentioned--you very kindly sent me a bio that you'dwritten about your years in UK, which was very helpful in preparing for our conversation--
SHRABERG: Top of my head, yeah.
DONAHUE: Yeah, and one of the things that you mentioned in that bio was that itwas the first time--well, that going to UK made you feel not more Jewish, necessarily, and not more like a native Lexingtonian, but it was the first time you really came to think of yourself as a Kentuckian. Can you describe more about what you mean about that?
SHRABERG: Yes, I mean, having lived my whole life in Lexington in the samelittle neighborhood, I thought of myself as just a Lexington Jew, or Jewish Lexingtonian. I didn't even use the term Lexingtonian. But coming to UK, I really--you live an insular existence, and this was before really mass media and 01:10:00roads, so my friends I made from all parts of Kentucky, and I--and I will say the basketball games, for example, which I did go to, really helped, and back then you could get into it. I sort of became aware that Kentucky is a state. You know, I think it was very local. I really didn't identify myself as a Kentuckian before I went to UK. I think that's a really powerful message the university should give their--I think they do, especially the flagship like UK. I really, uh, I loved all my professors. Some--a lot of them were not native Kentuckians, but I did really feel part of a--yeah, a Kentuckian. I identified, even with all those aspects, that it really made me feel kind of proud and identified, and I got to know people, uh, who were from different parts of the state, not just here. And I guess that's because I was very insular, I just grew up in a small town. So yes, uh, I really saw myself as a Kentuckian, and, uh, had a lot of pride in that. I think it was such a special--small little 01:11:00special state in our history, and I was much more aware of it at UK, and it made me really kind of proud. I got to know the campus. It was a small enough campus back then that you could walk the whole campus in half an hour, everywhere from the agricultural building, and then of course when the medical center came, we were really proud. Louisville was the only medical school, so this really gave us pride, I think. But yeah, uh, I probably identify myself more as a Kentuckian now than as a Lexingtonian or as a Jew, that I--the positive values of Kentucky and our history. We're still kind of the heartbeat of the nation, you know, we're a very special place. Small. People have--and, uh, as I got older, I resented the caricatures of Kentucky, that we're stupid backward people. I mean, you know, we're very tolerant people on certain levels, and decent people, good people. So yeah, I think UK did give me that wonderful--I spent fifteen years--four years in Nashville in medical school, 01:12:00about fifteen years in Louisiana, and yet I always felt that I was a Kentuckian, which is kind of odd being Jewish, because most Jews -----------(??) New Yorker or Miami, but I see myself as, I guess, a Jewish Kentuckian. (laughs).
DONAHUE: Right. So did part of that awareness of yourself as a Kentuckian comefrom meeting Jews from other states while you were at UK--
SHRABERG: --yeah, yes--
DONAHUE: --and understanding that their experiences were very different thanyour own?
SHRABERG: Very different. Yeah, I was a provincial Jew. Yeah, very, verydifferent. I was not that acutely aware of it, although I would visit my relatives--I remember going to visit my relatives in New York--(laughs)--this is a true story. My aunt who went to UK married a New York boy, and she moved to New York, so we would go up there, in the city, and I remember getting on elevators when I was like twelve or thirteen, and they'd say, where's he from, because they'd hear my accent. I wasn't aware I even had one. And they'd say, Kentucky. And they'd always look at my feet. (laughs). True, in New York, people would say, Oh my, no shoes. Yeah-- 01:13:00
DONAHUE: They would just assume that because you were from Kentucky, youwouldn't have shoes.
SHRABERG: No shoes, yeah. Because they'd get these newsreels, you know, backthen the Great Society and stuff, you'd see Kentuckians without, you know--but, uh, yes, I'd say that meeting Jewish people from particularly the Northeast, I realized I was an oddball in a way. Very unusual--and I kind of had a little pride in being different. But, see--you know, I think that was piggybacked on the--that I was already, thought I was different from the moment I started growing up, because I was always different, you know, being, you know--I think that Jews, like being--there are so many Jewish psychiatrists partly because if you're a sensitive child, you already start to look from the outside in, because you realize you're slightly different than everyone else. So you start analyzing behaviors. So it just compounded it, realizing, gosh, not only am I weird because I grew up in a neighborhood where everybody was white and Christian, but now I'm Jewish and apparently there are not a lot of--there's these huge communities that look at the world differently, identify differently, 01:14:00had different experiences than I did. I mean, a lot of these guys were members of their country clubs and all that, you know. It's a whole different world. So yeah.
DONAHUE: And was that part of your motivation for studying medicine that earlyon? Were you interested in psychiatry, or what motivated you to declare that as a major--
SHRABERG: Well, I was interested in philosophy at UK, that was my minor. Iloved philosophy. And God bless him, Dr. Pisacano was his name, was one of the doctors who came down here. He was a--when I had to decide my major, I met the history guy, I thought history would be good. The history guy was not--professor was not very motivated. But Pisacano was this Italian guy, Oh, you should be a doctor, you need to be a doctor. So I said okay. So, uh, I was interested in history and philosophy, so I kind of gravitated toward psychiatry, because partly I'm interested in just history and behavior, uh, and actually I did a double residency in neurology and psychiatry, because I was interested in 01:15:00how the brain mediates behavior. But I've always--yeah, I mean, going back to it, yes, I think part of my interest in human behavior is that I kind of lived in a society where I had to early on analyze behaviors, or at least it was interesting to look at behaviors and see--
DONAHUE: Yeah, that's interesting.
SHRABERG: Yeah, I mean, uh, as a child I remember my best--one of my two bestchildhood friends, as I said earlier, telling me, maybe I was eight or nine years old, you know, My mother is really upset that, uh, we're best friends, because you're Jewish. You know, he wasn't trying to be hurtful, but yeah, that was kind of strong medicine, and I took an instant disliking to her. Uh, later on she became like my biggest fan.
SHRABERG: Yeah. Uh, uh, the funny story she tells about me, I was this sort ofkid that, uh--he lived down the street, we were born the same year and actually grew up together from the ages of zero till when he died a year ago at sixty-eight. But we lived in the same neighborhood, went to the same schools 01:16:00together. And, uh, I think he was nine or ten years old, we had a big fight and I beat him up real bad and chased him into his house. Then his mother came on the porch of the house and she said, "Get off our property." So I was standing on the sidewalk, and I said--her name was Mrs. King--I said, "Mrs. King, this is city property, I can stay here as long as I want." She looked at me, said, "Hmm," went back in the house. And Johnny, my best friend, said, "My mom after that said you were the smartest boy she'd ever met." (both laugh). So, you know, it's funny how relationships--even though I know she was a dye-in-the-wool anti-Semite, she was also loving, you know. Every Christmas she would have me over--this is kind of a funny Jewish story. We'd never had ham in our house, so after about the age of eleven, every Christmas she would invite me over, and they had this country ham, so she'd have--first time I ever had ham and beaten biscuits, would be she'd always serve me on those little biscuits at Christmas time, which I always looked forward to. There's so many paradoxes in life, you 01:17:00know. So the same woman who was concerned that her only son was best friends with a Jew.
DONAHUE: Right. Life is full of mysteries, that's for sure. (both laugh).Oh, can you remember, while I'm thinking of it, by any chance how to spell Pisacano's name?
SHRABERG: P-i-s--he has family that are attorneys in town now. One of them isat UK, I think, related, but P-i-s-c-a-c-a-n-o, Piscacano. Still in the phone book. He's deceased, but he was quite a--he was a real inspiring guy for me. A lot of the, uh, premed students back in the, uh, sixties, uh, had a wonderful interaction with him. He was a great recruiter for medicine. It's funny, the, I know there's this idea that everybody wants to be a doctor, but it's hard to get people to be doctors in this country. They're just like, I don't want to spend all that time in medical school.
DONAHUE: A lot of time, a lot of money, yeah.
SHRABERG: Yeah. You don't see the money, just the time--
DONAHUE: I mean a lot of money out.01:18:00
SHRABERG: Yeah, a lot of money and time. Although again, it wasn't thatexpensive. God, the world we lived in. I think the tuition at UK--I was accepted at UK medical school my third year, but I went another year with the undergraduates because I was having a good time. But the tuition, I think, would've been 440 dollars a semester, uh, at UK medical school. Very cheap back then.
DONAHUE: Did you continue to attend services at the temple throughout your timeat UK?
SHRABERG: Yes, I would go to High Holidays. (clears throat). I wouldn't go toShabbat as much as I should've, but I attended the High Holidays, did the Passover. I never got actively engaged in Hillel--I think they had a presence here even then--partly because I was a Lexington Jew, and partly because I would, I would say that I was kind of a--that's a disadvantage of being, uh--living at home through college, you tend to stick in your home rather than get involved in Jewish activities. But I did attend the temple, certain services. Not as much as probably I should've, but what Jew doesn't say that? 01:19:00
DONAHUE: Did you--were there peers your age still at the temple who you wouldsocialize with?
SHRABERG: I would say that I was a very--other than Arthur Jacobs, whoattended, uh, and Michael Canarac (??)--there were about three or four Jewish kids that stayed here or went to Transylvania--almost all the Jewish kids of Lexington went to out-of-state schools. Because, I think partly to get out of--to expand your horizons, but also to be around larger campuses with larger numbers of Jews, so Indiana, St. Louis was a popular place, schools in New York. A lot of them were encouraged to go there, you know, if they could get in, the big-time schools like Harvard, Princeton, they would go. Partly that, but partly to be around larger Jewish and metropolitan communities. I think there was--so there were very few of us from Lexington that really attended UK.
DONAHUE: Uh, you also mentioned in the bio that you sent the political upheaval01:20:00of the time. And, uh, what impact did that have on you? The Vietnam War, you mentioned the Six-Day War?
SHRABERG: Well, it's funny. The Six-Day War, I think it ended maybe the firstor second year, I can't remember if it was '66--
DONAHUE: --I think it was '67.
SHRABERG: Yeah, '67. You know, I never realized--that was a real, uh,existential moment for me, because I think, uh--that when I first became aware of Zionism, uh, and became certainly to some extent a Zionist. Jewish pride, you know. It's kind of sad, because it was a war, but it was really--and I do think that, uh, as I said, uh--(clears throat)--for a lot of Jews in the sixties, there was still this leftover from the Holocaust, where, you know, we were just victims, sheep to go to slaughter. We didn't stand up for ourselves. There was all this mythology. So for a lot of younger Jews there was a sense of pride, Jews fight back, you know, we're not going to let people step on us 01:21:00again. So I remember, and this library, it was kind of funny, the Margaret King library here, I would read all the magazines--we didn't have digital--any Newsweek and Time, everything about Israel and the war. It was just like, it was like, almost like a drug for me, I loved it. It just gave me pride. I could identify with African Americans and other minorities who need figures to take pride in, you know, even if it's a military or a bellicose, pugnacious person. So that made a real--real, uh, it helped me, it really gave me a good deal of just pride in my people, so to speak. And the other thing is, all my gentile friends suddenly started talking about, "Hey, the Israelis." Not Jews, the Israelis. But in my mind they were equivalent. It was kind of funny. It wasn't like, "You Jews can fight back". It was, "Those Israelis are tough." So there was kind of a dichotomy, you know. I think they saw them not as Jews but as Israelis. But in my mind, they were they same, so it made me feel good. Uh, because a lot of my friends would say that who weren't Jewish. That was a very 01:22:00exciting period of my life as far as identity, being at UK and learning about that and just feeling proud, you know, and hearing people talk about Israel, which to me was like talking about Jews, which it isn't, but in my mind it was. The civil rights thing was, uh, towards the end of my, uh, last year here, uh, and, and the campus really started to come alive. And I'd say that that was the only time in my life that I really felt, during those couple of years, that I was part of a historical event, you know. I always say there's news and there's history. And the funny part about it is, you don't think you're living history, but I can remember when there were, uh, buses of police coming on campus and, you know, really bullying of students and first amendment rights being kind of threatened, uh, and the campus was going through this huge change. Uh, I don't think we were ready for diversity yet, but we were on the edge of some of these concepts. So, and that's when I became much more aware of what Lexington had 01:23:00been like from the vantage point we were talking about earlier, as well as UK. You didn't--this campus was not diverse, I think. I mean, when I was a student here, I mean, you know, being Jewish was diversity. I mean, there were some Asians, but you didn't see anything like the United Nations we have here now.
DONAHUE: Yeah, the--UK was integrated pretty, pretty late. I don't rememberthe year.
SHRABERG: Yeah, and when I was here in the sixties, it was starting, butreally, uh, there was not--uh, there was--I don't--there may have been an occasional African American in one of my classes. It was a small campus, but I don't remember--(clears throat)--yeah, this was very much a very, very white campus. And, uh, like I said, being Jewish, you fit in only if they didn't know you were Jewish. (laughs). I was considered a white man only because--but it was, uh, yeah, I became aware in the late sixties--when I graduated UK, I started Vanderbilt medical school in '69, but I loved philosophy. For two 01:24:00summers I worked towards a master's in philosophy, so I was on campus both those years. And, I was like my dissertation and six credit hours short, but I quit that for another reason. So I was on campus, and then my brother went to law school here in the early seventies--(clears throat)--so I was very much aware, from being on campus then, of dramatic change, oh, dramatic change. Uh, it was all across the country. When I started medical school--(clears throat)--in '69 at Vanderbilt, you had to wear a tie to class, and the students, by the third year, said no more ties, it's stupid, you know, this sort of idea. But this was old-school stuff. There were no blacks in my class at Vanderbilt and no women, in '69. There were seven Jews, we were the quota, I think. Seven out of sixy-nine, it's ten percent. That's why Jews --------(??) it's the opposite of African Americans. They exclude us. But to make a long story short, yes, when 01:25:00I was on campus my last year there were changes afoot. You know, you went from starting UK with a beanie to leaving UK, people were in beards, people were smoking pot. I didn't. Uh, and it was just a whole--you still had all the good old boys stuff and the fraternities and all that, but it was really, really you could--there was a seismic shift just starting, just starting. But it was there, and, uh, looking back on it, I was part of history. That's the only time in my life so far that I actually feel I was part of a historical event. I was--I was at one or two of the demonstrations, I was part of the crowd. I wasn't yelling, I was just there, en masse, supportive. But it was fun. Then I saw all these cops, you know, they come in these big blue buses on campus, because they were afraid of a riot.
DONAHUE: Was this related to the Vietnam War, or?
SHRABERG: The Vietnam War, yeah, exactly. What--what fascinates me about thatis, I felt all the cops coming on campus, inciend--it was more incendiary. I 01:26:00think it led to more violence. There wasn't really a lot of violence, but it led to people being upset and angry. It's like telling a child that's in control, you can't control yourself, we're going to bring a bunch of police around you. So I, I really sensed what it's like, it's such a delicate balance, I know--but it was a part of history, yeah, Vietnam, uh, was part of that. My, you know--my brother had been, uh, Vietnam-era, uh, he had been drafted in the Army out of college, so I knew--he was lucky not to go to Vietnam, but I know that, uh, we were very lucky. He ended up in Germany, but I can tell you that I felt so sorry for people who did go, you know, because everybody that went not necessarily didn't want to go, but it was a terrible war, what happened to our boys, I mean. And then they were treated like dirt when they got back. It's a sad period in our history, and I realized we were part of a historical process. But the civil rights all melded together then, too. The civil rights was coming in too, which was really an interesting part. Yeah, it was--on this campus, it 01:27:00did--but it was late at UK, I say, very late, and really peaceful. I mean, compared to a lot of--we didn't have a Kent State, thank God.
DONAHUE: Right, yeah. Uh, you mentioned that you took a trip to Europe duringyour undergraduate years, and you connected with your extended family. Can you talk about how making those connections with your extended family overseas, uh, impacted your own Jewish identity?
SHRABERG: Yes, I think it made me realize, uh, the most important thing wasthat being Jewish is kind of interesting, is that you can go anywhere in the world where there's a temple or a synagogue, you can walk in and kind of feel at home, you can belong, it's that unusual--yes, I think that, uh, that gave me a sense of a greater sense of self, a big part of a network--you know, we Jews unfortunately, because of the Holocaust, so many of us, you know, our history only goes back to the United States, you know, when everyone emigrated here. 01:28:00But at least from this family we've got some roots. It made me feel very--uh, yeah, it made me feel, I guess, more connected in a sort of world, globally. And, u, it was very special in the sixties and seventies, because we didn't have the Internet and all that, so, you know, the connection was really much personal. Yeah, I really got interested to some extent in my family and, uh, how we ended up here. That's what I said, how in the world did we end up in Kentucky? Family in London, I can understand, but yeah, these provincial Jews. (laughs). It was very--it was fun, I enjoyed that very much, and I still stay in touch with some of my relatives, uh, and, uh, there's a website for the Schraberg side, that's the one I stay in touch with, interesting my father's side. It was very much of an eye-opener, yeah.
DONAHUE: Was that trip, uh, initiated on your own, or did you go with yourbrother or sister?
SHRABERG: Well, my brother had been drafted into the Army when he graduated01:29:00college. So he was in the Army between '65 and '67, and he was in Berlin, stationed in Berlin, and they--he was given an option, a lot of the guys back then, you could either be discharged in Europe and spend a month and they'll fly you back, or you can fly home. So that summer of '68, my last year of college, I--the money I'd saved from the band, I flew Pan Am to Berlin, my brother rented a car, and we traveled through Europe together. So we drove--that was during the Cold War, so we drove--we actually went through Checkpoint Charlie in East Berlin, and we drove through East Germany, and then through France and all this. Funny, you talk about history, we were going to go to Czechoslovakia, but that was during the Czech Spring and right before were going to make that trip, the Communists marched in. So I really got to see a totalitarian state, too, and I also got a better understanding of what it must've been like to be in Nazi Germany, because at that time in Berlin was split, and we went to the east side 01:30:00of Berlin--and my brother spoke fluent German--uh, nobody smiled. It was amazing, nobody smiled. We walked in East Berlin, people were smiling. It was--to see the difference in what it's like--
DONAHUE: --in West Berlin people were smiling?
SHRABERG: Yes. Because it was not--I wouldn't say capitalist, just a freesociety. So we went to England, with my brother, and that was my first trip, uh, near the end of the trip and visited the Seymours, which was the Jewish branch that the twin brother--that was the oldest daughter. And then we actually went and visited a couple of relatives, the one from Scotland. And, uh, I made another trip a few years later and visited some family. One of the grandsons would be a great--a cousin once or twice removed, lived in Wales. We went to Cardiff and visited him. So it was kind of fun to see the branches, there's something really neat about that, when you think you're connected by these roots going back to Lithuania. So I've always found that really interesting. Like most adults, you don't keep as much touch with those people, 01:31:00but if one of them were to call me and say, can we come visit you, I'd be, come on down, stay with us, I would love to hear and see what they're all about. So I've been very lucky with the jet age, you know, to extend--I always think how different life was, you know--we think of immigration as such, in a way an easy thing, you get on a plane and come over here. I mean, it's tough, I know, but once you get a visa, you just fly. Those people, the people who settled this country and up to the 20th century, getting over here was no easy task. You'd go all through these countries, there wasn't any European Union. My, my grandfather David, the one that immigrated to Kentucky, was this Lithuanian Jew who apparently rolled the rails up in eastern Kentucky, and they didn't have hotels there, so families, they'd never seen a Jew before. The stories he told my dad were, they'd put him up, you know, he was buying ginseng, so they put him up for the night because they wanted the children to see what a Jew--they'd never seen a Jew. And according to, uh, uh, my dad and my uncle said, I'm sure 01:32:00you've heard this before, the kids would feel his head to see if there were any horns coming out. That's fascinating. But, I can't imagine the courage of somebody, a little old Jewish Lithuanian guy with broken English, you know, going up into places like Pike County and Floyd County, negotiating about ginseng, I don't know how they were able to--and then riding the trains back to Somerset, how he did it. But he did it. It's a piece of Kentucky history. And that makes me proud, again, I said it, I see myself as a Kentuckian kind of first, because my family, now we're 100 years in the state, and actually through marriage I go back a couple hundred years. My wife's family settled--uh, the mother of my children settled, they were colonial--Revolutionary War soldiers who'd actually settled in the Elizabethtown area. So, uh, in fact, my--it's funny, my son, named Zachary, he's named after a guy named Zachariah Riney, who 01:33:00has a little plaque outside Rineyville, who was Abraham Lincoln's, uh, first teacher in elementary school. So I can say that through marriage, I'm kind of really a Kentucky guy, a Kentuckian. University of Kentucky really did that for me, I would say. It gave me an identity as a Kentuckian that I didn't have before. And even though all the Jewish experiences made it kind of--it was mixed. Overall, as I said in my--it was a very positive experience, really. I felt--never had a problem with a professor, that's for sure. I loved all my professors there, even the tough ones. I mean, there was never a mention of being Jewish, being different.
DONAHUE: So the only anti-Semitism you experienced at UK was with thefraternities, or were there other experiences besides that?
SHRABERG: I would say that it was primarily the fraternity system at that timewas very rigid and old-fashioned. I think that was the major thing on this campus. I think the remainder of the campus was very giving and open. My, uh, sixth-grade teacher at Cassidy went on and got her PhD in English, and she 01:34:00nominated me for Phi Beta Kappa, so, you know, there was no prejudice there, and she wasn't Jewish, Mrs. Peeble, God rest her soul. So I became Phi Beta Kappa in--uh, that was the only fraternity I always say I was proud to be a member of, April 1969. So, uh, I would say that I experienced nothing from the vantage point of faculty. Uh, and really, in the student body I would say it was only in that area, and I think that's probably changed a lot over the--I don't know how much has changed--and I think that was really a reflection of some of the undercurrents of our society back then. I mean, most of the kids in the fraternity were kind of the ruling class, so to speak, and so it was probably--I think it's much different now. I'm sure there's probably still some of that. I think at this point, and wha--very refreshing, is even back then, but certainly as the sixties progressed, a lot of the best and the brightest students who 01:35:00could've been members of fraternities said, who cares? I don't want to be part of that, it's silliness. There were more important issues, as they say nowadays. I think the beginning, but now I think it's very true, I don't begrudge people being members of fraternities at all, it's fine. But I think a lot of kids that would be fraternity or sorority people were interested in maybe more important things. (laughs). It's okay to play, I guess. I'm not putting them down too much. But that was probably the major area, and it kind of reflected back to growing up, some of the things, country clubs and other things which you were, you know--well, there's the Lexington Club, for example, it's a club here in Lexington for millionaires. It's the city club, didn't have Jews, only WASPs [White Anglo-Saxon Protestants], no Catholics. But now they'll take a Jew if they want to pay the membership, I think, or--I hate to say that, I know we're on the record, but you know, all these things are falling apart to some extent. Still some remnants, probably, but certainly not anything--our society--just walk on this campus, it's so different than it was. 01:36:00
DONAHUE: Do you want to take a five-minute break? Let's just take a shortbreak, then we can--
[unrelated material, not transcribed]01:37:00
DONAHUE: I did want to loop back and ask a follow-up question about the--yourparents' business. Did they--what happened to the business, and did they have any hopes that you or your brother would take it over? 01:38:00
SHRABERG: Well, I think that, uh, no, I think we were sort of a typical, Iwouldn't say just Jewish, but maybe Jewish immigrant family. I think, uh, my mother was very much into higher education, and I guess we were the typical Jewish family. My sister became a--got her degree in social work and teaching, my brother became a lawyer, and I'm the doctor. You know, maybe if we had another kid, another boy, he would've been the junkman. Uh, I think my father would not have objected to my taking over the business, but, uh, he worked in that business till the day he died. He worked till seventy-seven, and actually went to services on Friday night, uh, had a heart attack and died on Sunday, at seventy-seven. So he died with his boots on. But had sold a major portion of the business by that time to the--uh, sold out. I think that my father was not disappointed that I didn't go into the business by virtue of I went into medicine, you know. So I think he would've been okay with it. I, uh--my father 01:39:00had a photographic memory about those parts, and I don't think I could've ever been as successful as he was. (laughs). He knew every part of every car. Back then, before you had computerized parts, you had to know the difference between a carburetor in, say, a 1985 Pontiac and a 1983 Pontiac, and I, I couldn't do that. That's how he made his money, he knew exactly--and he had fourteen acres of cars, where he knew where each one was. So he sold the business, and several people thought about buying it, and he, uh, he had one little yard on Manchester Street where he started that he continued to sell parts, basically to, uh, people who were trying to customize cars, till he died. And he died with his boots on.
DONAHUE: What was the name of his business? SHRABERG: Kentucky Scrap MaterialCompany was its name. He was in business, uh, he worked, I think, for sixty years. He started working in--well, he worked at the age of sixteen, he died at seventy-seven, so he worked, uh, sixty-one years.
DONAHUE: And I know that the Baker family business still exists.01:40:00
SHRABERG: Baker Metals, we're good friends actually. This is a small town,Lexington. Uh, my wife and I are good friends with Ben and Ruth Baker, who Ben is the one that ran Harold's business, and they were very successful. And the funny part about it, it's kind of a joke that Ben married a, a girl named Ruth Gordon, and Gordon Metals were another big business, they sold a lot of structural steel, a lot of which is in some of the buildings here at UK. (laughs). So we're actually very dear friends, we travel to Europe a lot, my wife and I, with Ben Baker, who's one of the Bakers, and I went to actually Sunday school and, uh, with Mike Baker, who was my age, so we both were confirmed together and bar mitzvahed a week apart.
DONAHUE: Okay. Yeah, I know we're hoping to interview Ben for this project as well.
SHRABERG: Ben Baker can give you a lot of, uh, of history of Lexington. He'sgot an encyclopedic mind, and what you'll found out is by marriage or otherwise, we all are kind of related. Somehow or another, my grandmother, who was a 01:41:00Munich, uh, is related to all the Munichs that are sort of related to some of the Bakers. So just--not through marriage--in a small town like this, it's incredible, just interconnections, but it's funny. As a matter of fact, there's a prize every year, I think it's either Max or Ed Munich, they gave at UK medical school, a speech, as part of the Munich family that is, being that my grandmother was a Munich that married my grandfather from the old country, we're all interrelated. (laughs). You'll enjoy Ben, he's encyclopedic.
DONAHUE: Okay, great, thank you. Let's see, so you talked a little bit aboutwhy you chose to specialize in neurology and psychol--psychiatry, sorry, and that was interesting. Is there anything else you wanted to add to that?
SHRABERG: Well, it's kind of, it's ironic that I'm now half-time the assistantprofessor of psychiatry over at UK Chandler, where I'm, uh, training residents. 01:42:00I do the consult service there. So I've come home to roost at the university, so I'm back here. I kind of find that--it's wonderful for me. I spent fifteen years in New Orleans, where I did my training and practice, private practice, so I'm kind of part of the university community and it makes me feel really good.
DONAHUE: Yeah, what made you decide to return to Lexington after those years in Louisiana?
SHRABERG: You know, it's interesting. Uh, Lexington is one of those citiesthat gets under your skin. I think I always longed to come back here. Uh, when I finished my residency in neurology and psychiatry in '78, I came back and spent a year with the faculty here, and then I had an offer to go back to Tulane and be in the department there, uh, as an assistant professor of psychiatry and neurology. I spent a couple of years there, uh, and then I, uh, for about eight or nine years, private practiced in New Orleans. (clears throat). And then I really started to miss Kentucky, and also the school system down there was bad, and you have these fantasies that home is just the way it always is, so I wanted 01:43:00my kids to try to grow up in, uh, Lexington and try to have some experiences I did. So I returned here in '87, when I was forty, and, uh, you know, I think part of it was romantic, part of it it's I wanted them to have the Kentucky roots. So, uh, that's why--I have five kids, only one of them lives in Kentucky. The others live either in New Orleans or California. But what can you do?
DONAHUE: So even though you had had challenges as a child growing up inLexington, there was something about it that you wanted your kids to experience? Or did you feel like maybe it had changed?
SHRABERG: It had changed, I think. Yes, it had changed, and even with thoseexperiences, it just, you know, I think that, uh--maybe I'm being romantic, but where you grow up is--becomes part of your blood, you know, you're part of the soil, the water, it's part of your spirit. I always felt that, uh, about Lexington and about Kentucky, so--and, uh, it's--I can't say that on some levels 01:44:00maybe, you know, you always say what if, what if I'd have gone to, say, medical school in New York or Chicago and married somebody from the big city, I could've been a big-city Jew instead of a little shtetl Jew, a provincial Jew. (laughs). But I am what I am, and you know, I've traveled, I've done a lot of traveling with the Bakers, they do a lot of traveling all over the world. And, uh, I like to think of myself--I love history and philosophy. But I'm still very comfortable with just being in Kentucky. Yeah, I just, uh, it's part of me, maybe more than a lot of people. I just feel part of this, this is part of me, with its bad and its ugly. It's got its good, too, like every--there's no perfect home, I don't think. Everyplace has its problems, and for all the things that we're talking about now that I felt growing up, I overall loved my childhood, I loved my life here. I'm grateful to some extent that it made me so insightful and sensitive to things. I think it made me a better psychiatrist. I can not only empathize with what people feel, but I can know, you know, how 01:45:00maybe to deal with it. And you know, my wife always says, you know, you had--compared to what a lot of people went through, you had a nice childhood, an easy childhood, and that's probably true. You know, I mean, you know, I never really, you know, for the few tears and hurts that I went through, it's my personality, I'm overall, like you just asked the question, yeah, I'm very happy to be here and, you know, I expect to die here. (laughs). Like my dad, I'm going to work and die in my boots, that's my goal. I've got my plot at the Lexington Cemetery with the rest of the Shrabergs. (Donahue coughs). Not any time soon.
DONAHUE: Yes, touch wood. So what is your wife's name, and how did you meet her?
SHRABERG: Well, that's a little bit of a story. My first wife--I've had twowives. Both of them were Catholics, I don't know what it is about Catholic girls. My first wife, who is the mother of my five children, I met in New Orleans, and we were married, uh, fifteen years. My second wife I met here after we were divorced. We've known each other twenty years, been married, uh, 01:46:00nineteen years, and her name is Pat, Patricia McCreary, uh, Shraberg, and this is kind of an interesting piece of Lexington trivia. My father never was part of the temple. He was on one committee that counted votes, but he never wanted to be an officer of the temple. Uh, I was president of our temple for two years, and my wife is finishing her presidency now, for two years, so we're the first, uh, husband-and-wife pair that have been presidents of the temple. Of course they didn't have any female president of the temple the first fifty years. So I'm kind of proud of her. So we're both--we're a blended family. We have eight kids between us.
DONAHUE: Wow, okay. So you have five children of your own, and are they fromyour first wife, or your second--
DONAHUE: And how did you and your first wife approach your children's Jewish education?
SHRABERG: Well, my first wife converted to Judaism. Uh, she went through the01:47:00mikvah in New Orleans, you know, the ritual bath, and so all five of my kids were raised Jewish. Which I think I--you know, she--and my second wife, uh is, uh--she--her first--her children are kind of multidenominational, but, uh she actually sent them for a while, while they were growing up, to temple. She was more of a--she calls herself a recovering Catholic. (laughs). She sent her kids to Unitarian and also temple. So even before we met, she kind of was more Jewish than I was, and like a lot of converts, she's much more involved in temple life. She's been a wonderful president. She's quite a leader in the Jewish community, I think. And so--uh, so all five of my children are Jewish, and my three stepchildren, uh, have been--know the temple, they're kind of nondenominational, like a lot of kids are now. So there's really been no conflict, and she's--we would go to temple together, she's the president right 01:48:00now, has been for two years, so she's as Jewish as you can be.
DONAHUE: Can you trace any kind of generational differences in your approachesto Judaism from your parents to you to your children?
SHRABERG: Oh yes. It's so dramatically different. This comes with a core ofgrowing up, maybe in America, but certainly in Lexington. For my parents, temple life and their social life were identical. Uh, they would go to, uh, parties with their Jewish friends, temple--all social activities, ball games, Jews were all together. It was very much of a social outlet. Uh, you know, Lexington didn't have any Jewish country clubs till Tates Creek originally was the country club that accepted Jews. So all the Jews belonged to Tates Creek who could afford to. So I would say that growing up, uh, for them, being Jewish was as much of a social as a religious life.
DONAHUE: Did they belong to the Tates Creek Country Club?
SHRABERG: Yeah, my dad was a golfer, and that's where I learned to play, my01:49:00passion for golf. That was my father-son stuff. Yes, they were members of Tates Creek when it was a country club. It was kind of funny, Tates Creek Country Club, the pro there for our whole life was a guy named Humzey Yessin, God bless him, he was a really great guy, who was, I think, a Palestinian Christian. He was the pro, and he had all these Jewish members. They all got--it's only in America, and his kids are all great, old Humzey was a lovely man, a great guy. Uh, when he retired, he was an avid fisherman--uh, Ben Baker can tell you about that relationship--so he used to go fishing on Warren Rosenthal's, I don't know if you know Warren, he has a farm out at Patchen Wilkes, a farm--he always let--the only person that could fish in his lake was Humzey So, you know, that's the wonderful, growing up, a lot of social networking between the Jews. By the time, uh, I grew up, things were changing, although, uh, growing up as Jewish, most of the times that I went to, uh--we used to have what were called garage dances in the summer. It was always at the 01:50:00Jewish girls' houses. But, you know, I would go to cotillion, where there were mainly Christian girls. In high school I was friends with Christians. Uh, and even though there was still that subtle tendency that you were different and you weren't allowed in certain venues, you were allowed more than they were. And being of a religion was very important, your identity: you're Jewish, you're Baptist, you're Episcopalian. By the time my kids grew up, it seems--well, you know, none of my kids have actually married in the faith. It's kind of sad--well, I shouldn't say sad, I love all my in-laws. Uh, some of the kids aren't being raised Jewish, and what are you going to do? They're not raised anything, the ones in California seem to just not, you know, right now, at least. I have two young--one grandchild, one on the way. They're not really thinking of religion, and that's this generation. So it's a whole different world, and I don't think they even think of themselves so much as a religious identity anymore, a lot of them. And of course as a parent, you always feel 01:51:00guilty, what did I--did I not strongly--but our society's changed so much. I mean, religion is not--your religion identity is not so important, I guess. So yeah, over three generations--and that's why, you know, so much of our membership, young people don't have a tendency to join the temple or the synagogue in even Lexington, because their social outlets are everywhere now, you're not excluded from anything. So yeah, it's changed dramatically. I can say living in Lexington, from my parents who would--normally, if they go out to dinner, they'd all be Jewish friends. My dad had a gin rummy club. Uh, one of the--I think maybe one of the players was gentile, the rest were all Jews. Golf foursomes, almost always Jewish. Later on there were some--and he had gentile friends, but most of the socialization, you were with your own co-religious. Changed a lot in my generation, and now it's just totally different. So over three generations, it's just dramatic, and with that, the involvement in the 01:52:00temple and the synagogue has dropped in membership, partly because of that, I think. If you moved to Lexington in the 1950s, uh, if you wanted to have a social life, you joined the temple or synagogue. Now you don't have to.
DONAHUE: Did all of your children attend the temple as often as you had growing up?
SHRABERG: Yes. All three, all my children, I'm proud to say, were barmitzvahed or bat mitzvahed, my two daughters were bat mitzvahed, and bar mitzvahed. They all know Hebrew. And they have a Jewish awareness, but, uh, none of them so far have been--gotten engaged or joined a temple or synagogue. Which is--and I'm a bit--I feel awkward about it, particularly since I was president for two years and my wife, but, you know, you can't force your kids, unfortunately, to do anything. I don't think I'm alone, either as a Jew or as an American, about that, though. I mean, for all these huge mega-churches that have all these families members, I think the vast majority of Americans kind of just--it's laissez faire, comme-ci, comme-ca, what religion, what do I do with that. 01:53:00
DONAHUE: What are your children's names and ages?
SHRABERG: Well, my--the oldest is Zachary, Zachary Nathaniel. He's the onethat was named after Zachariah Riney. Uh, then the next one is, uh, uh, Joshua, uh, Mansell (??) Shraberg. So--and then the third one is, I had twins, so ones Aaron Hiam (??)--Hiam is named after my father--uh, Shraberg. Uh, my father was still alive when he was named, and of course the Ashkenazi tradition, Jewish tradition, is you don't name a child after a living parent, but we went ahead and called him Hiam. And then his sister, who's a twin, is Mary, uh--Elizabeth Mary, who's named after my aunt Mary. And then my youngest one is, uh, uh, Sarah, uh, Leah Shraberg. Sarah Rose, I'm sorry, Sarah Rose. And Sarah Rose, my grand--she was named after my deceased grandmother Sarah Munich Shraberg, and 01:54:00my other grandmother's name was Rose. So Sarah Rose. We liked Sarah Leah, but everybody--we knew her whole life people would say, Oh, you're the--you know, Sarah Lee. So they all have names that are part--some of the names are actually named after my wife's family, which weren't Jewish, but Zachary, of course, is an Old Testament name anyway, so we can get away with that one.
DONAHUE: And how--how would you approach holidays with your children as theywere growing up? Did you have similar traditions to what you had in your home as a child?
SHRABERG: Yes, we had, we had all the major holidays. We did Pesach, orPassover, at home. We took them to the High Holidays. They were all bar mitzvahed or bat mitzvahed. So we gave them a strong Jewish life, and they identified as Jewish. They all learned Hebrew. Uh, so, you know, they have all the fundamentals if they want to be, but, you know, our society is so assimilationist now. You know, there was an old saying that, uh, the anti-Semite is the enemy of the Jew, and anti-Semitism is the friend of the 01:55:00Jewish people, because it's like me, you're forced to have an identity if you're discriminated against, but now there's so little, you know, they don't feel it, at least, so they--all my children have married--I would say they're non-Jews, because they don't have any faith, none of them, they're just, you know, their mates are all nothing. But I will say they all got married by rabbis, so--and they all supposedly are going to raise the children Jewish, they say, but so far nothing's really happened in that area.
DONAHUE: And as an adult, uh, member of the Jewish community here in Lexingtonand your experiences being president of the temple, what kind of observations or insights have you developed about the nature of the Jewish community here?
SHRABERG: Well, uh, I think the Jewish community in Lexington, uh, had beenvibrant growing up. I see it dying out in the small towns. Uh, I think only 01:56:00the future will say if we'll have a Jewish community here in 100 years. You know, like I said, looking--and maybe I'm just saying what people have said forever, but one-third of the Jewish people were exterminated, and there's so much intermarriage, so much less participation in the temple, you really wonder will there be any Jewish presence much in Lexington in 100 years. And then maybe, you know, what's the future of the Jewish people worldwide, I don't know, without Israel, and even, you know, that may be it. I just don't know. I mean, certainly the large urban areas--you know, the Jews are such a funny group of people, because I'm always amazed, I mean, we represent less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the population yet we're told how powerful we are, how rich we are. My God, I mean, you know, you could walk across the land here and you'd never meet a Jew if you don't try. But I do see just a--I'm worried about our future, uh, more than--I think certainly in this--in the United States, I think there's 01:57:00a gradual--in sheer numbers, in participation. It's true in all the mainstream religions, but the Jews were starting with such a small population, there's six million Jews in a country of 340 million people, and with all our kids growing up and so many of them not engaging in Jewish life, you really wonder what's going to be--what's going to--I worry. In a community like Lexington, you really worry. Probably the biggest gift that Lexington has had was UK, because we bring in a lot of Jewish faculty, which helps kind of replenish our stock. If we didn't have UK, I don't know what would happen. I know both the temple and the synagogue, a lot of our members are UK faculty, you know, from the medical school and the campus. Without that, I don't know. We would definitely--our numbers are dropping, there's no question.
DONAHUE: As president of the temple, what was your focus or your goal?
SHRABERG: Building the temple, trying to build our membership, bring in the01:58:00young people. It's a constant, constant struggle. Uh, you know, my wife is a little younger than I am, I won't tell you her age, she's in her sixties. You walk into the, uh, temple service, most of the people there are in their fifties or sixties or older. You look at the executives, you know, the presidents and the boards, they're all older people. You know, they try to get the young people engaged, and that goes back to the point that you can go out and have a great time, you can go to social events, you can be members of clubs, do everything you want, you don't have--being Jewish means nothing anymore. So that's part of it, but then it's partly just a lack of passion and interest that so many of these young people have, or time. So it's an ongoing struggle. Uh, right now in Lexington, I can tell you that there's even a--trying to merge the temple and synagogue into one building for cost and sort of have the congregations maybe, the religious schools merge because the numbers are so small of the children. There's all these attempts to do this, because the sheer 01:59:00numbers, you know, and there's more power in mass numbers, and we have such small numbers. Theoretically, I think there's 500 families in Lexington, but that's very much a misleading figure. Every family is just one member, and a lot of families are people in their sixties, seventies, and eighties, widows or widowers or couples. We're not talking about vibrant families of, you know, nuclear families. So probably if you look at that group, there's maybe 100, 200 families left.
[unrelated material, not transcribed]
DONAHUE: Okay, so you said that your children--none of them live in Lexington now?02:00:00
SHRABERG: I have one daughter that lives in Lexington, she's married, and, uh,they have no children yet, so yes, so that's really nice, a blessing. And then I have two stepchildren that live near us, one in Richmond and one in, uh, uh Frankfort. So I have--and I consider them like my children too.
DONAHUE: Do you have grandchildren?
SHRABERG: Yes, I have, uh, one granddaughter in, uh, California. This is sofunny. You know, we used--I'm a David, which means beloved in Hebrew, and, you know, Jewish names are now, again, the assimilation--her name is Harper, which is hardly a Jewish name. And, uh, she's got a boy, knock on wood, this week she'll have a C-section and a son's being born, so they'll have a son, who's going to be called Fletcher, which is not a Jewish name, but hey, we'll love Fletcher. And then I have a daughter in New Orleans, who is Claire, she's 02:01:00twelve. So I have three grandchildren, and my wife has, uh, three as well. And theirs, uh--they're all, uh, Cara, Justin, and Nick.
DONAHUE: So you mentioned earlier about, uh, how--about Zionism and Israel andhow that became important to you when you were in college, and it sounds like Zionism is still important to you.
SHRABERG: Yes, it's very important to me. I'm probably, uh, more on theextreme of Zionism, although certainly I do have a great deal of understanding and sympathy for the Palestinian people. I think they have a right to have a country. Uh, I think my Zionism springs from sort of a reaction to the Holocaust and that I feel it's so important that Jews stand up for themselves. And that is a great driver of tearing apart a lot of the Jewish communities even in Lexington, because, uh, Jews are very much people of the book and of justice, 02:02:00so there's a lot of mixed feelings about how Zionistic you can be. And maybe because I grew up in a small town, where I felt more akin to both anti-Semitism and the need for Jewish pride, that I'm as Zionist as I am. Uh, I will say that I certainly understand the other side. One of the wonderful things that I'm enjoying working at UK now is many of my resident students are from all over the world, from Pakistan, Afghanistan, you know, and I get a rich feeling of humanity, that they're all human beings, that we're all basically a byproduct of--if we can learn to think for ourselves. But I am, you know, I'm still very much a Zionist, I very much feel like the Jewish people need one safe place. And I suppose that's just me, it's a derivative of my childhood that I feel that, you know--I guess, you know, I think it's--I mean, you might call it a trauma, but it would've been nice to grow up somewhere where being Jewish means that every holiday is a national holiday, and you can join any club you want, at 02:03:00least your religion's not going to exclude you. I mean, people are so petty, probably there are some issues of pedigree, but being Jewish per se wouldn't do it. So I think maybe it's nice to have one place in the world where you can be Jewish and be a majority and you don't have to worry about all these little things that happened when I was growing up. The counter-argument is, the world can change, people can change, but after the Holocaust and what happened, maybe it's my generation--I'm the last, you know, generation who was kind of born after World War II when all this happened. I don't know what the future is, but yeah, it did shape my Zionism, which is probably a little stronger than somebody with my education would be. But I'm not intolerant, and I understand the other side of the argument. But I am very much, I really feel strongly that there should be a Jewish state. Not Israel as much as a Jewish state, which happens to be Israel.
DONAHUE: And you mentioned that there's been some contention within the Jewishcommunity in Lexington about that. Can you describe how that's--give some 02:04:00examples of how that's been expressed?
SHRABERG: Yeah. We've had different rabbis. The, the orthodox movement tendsto steer away so much from political issues to mostly more holiness issues. The reform movement is much more into social justice and repairing the world. So you see where repairing the world means that there are bad things happening in Israel, positions of Israel that are not justice, that they're going to criticize. So most of the reform rabbis are much less Zionist and more into human rights and human justice. So you can see where there's some conflict. Now, for example, in our temple, a number of our Jews came from Morocco, Persia, or Iran, where they experienced terrible things, and so they tend to be angry, or more, uh, passion, if the rabbi tends to dumb down--for example, uh, when they had that, uh, the last little upsurge of that belligerence they had in the Middle East, the Gaza war, when, if you remember, the three Jewish boys were 02:05:00killed first, and then the Jews burned up this poor Arab kid in Jerusalem. Well, a rabbi said, it's terrible what happened to the Jewish boys, but it's terrible what happened to the Arab boy. Well, some of these people, Jewish members from the Middle East, may agree with that, but then they say, I think the rabbi is leaning too much towards the Arab side, not enough towards the Jewish side. So there's this divide, and, and, you know, some of our members are Israel right or wrong, a lot of our members are rights more important than Israel than anything else, we have to be right, we have to be just. So there is this line, and reform rabbis tend to be, uh, much less Zionist and much more into tikkun olam, as it's called, or repair the world, and that Israel has to respect human rights, and when they're wrong we should condemn them. Now, every rabbi will, but you can see where there's sort of how much you're pro Israel versus not depends on each member and their experiences. The members who came from the Middle East and had terrible experiences maybe tend to be a little 02:06:00less, uh, enthused about this even-handedness that most of the reform rabbis do. The orthodox rabbis are not so much into Zionism, they're more into the religion and keeping the rituals pure. It's more the reform movement that you get into these, you might say there's a little bit of a tension there, uh, and the rabbis tend to be more on the issue of what one would say human rights and fairness, versus the members may have their own opinions, some of which are far more to the right, you might say. It varies from person to person. So there is that tension in the reform community.
DONAHUE: So often at one of the social gatherings after the service, wouldpeople be discussing these issues?
SHRABERG: Well, the people that are--the political issues tend to be verycarefully orchestrated. For example, we just went through Yom Ha'azmaut, uh, this Sunday at our temple, and both congregations get together, it's Israeli Independence Day. Uh, it'll be very superficial, there will not be political 02:07:00discussions--(laughs)--because there is a great divide, uh, you know, and I think that's one of--you know, Jews in America are Americans first, so as Americans people have all different positions and there's no, you know, it's a nice part of what we as Jews are, we're varied (??), so there's, you know, nobody's going to send out a group of, you know, bullies to beat you up if you say, I think Israel is wrong, or a group of bullies to say I think Israel right or wrong. But, uh, there is a tendency for people to sort of cluster together who may be very, very pro-Israel right or wrong, versus the ones who are kind of anti-Israel, and the rabbi is sort of kept out of it. The rabbi stays out of the politics pretty much, because if he does, he's going to--one side or the other is going to be unhappy with him. That's my opinion. Now, somebody might disagree with me, but I think you're going to find that most Jews are going to say that, that there's a--the Jewish--Israel has changed a lot in the mind of American Jews since--I think generally we all support Israel, that the Jews need a homeland and a state, but we also, uh, Jews more and more want to see the 02:08:00world in peace, they don't want to see, you know--right now it's not such a big issue, because so much happening in the Middle East has little to do with Israel, but Israel is still there. They have to part of the whole community, the world community.
DONAHUE: Right. What's your experience been of the relationships between themembers of Ohavay Zion and Temple Adath Israel?
SHRABERG: It's still interesting. Uh, there's always been--some of it's humannature, some of it's cultural. The typical small Southern town where you had the German Jews come earlier, and they looked down on the other Jews. The German Jews found the temple, the reform movement, uh, the old-timers, and you had the Russians and the others. But now the orthodox and conservative like to think of themselves as more Jewish, because they know more ritual, they observe more, versus the reform people, who they think are just, you know, make-believe Jews or Christian Jews almost. So there's that side of it, but there's also a tendency, as all these old families are dying out now on both sides, who had 02:09:00this divide, there's a push towards trying to merge these communities because of sheer numbers. I don't know if it'll happen, though. But yeah, there is a tendency to try to merge us. It's kind of like Southern Baptist versus Northern Baptist. What's the difference? I mean, it all started with the Civil War, you know, and slavery. But now, that's all gone, so they're merging. Why can't we all be just Jews together and sort of have a middle ground where we all--we're the same religion, really. It's kind of wild to have--but it's still there, and it's much more dramatic in a town like Lexington, where people wonder why is there a synagogue and a temple? What is the difference? Why do you have two Jewish, you know--and ours had nothing to do with, you know, the Civil War or anything, or anything, it's just, uh, two groups of people, two settlements, and the reform movement was very much a--it started with the German enlightenment, but in this country it's flowered, because all these German Jews settled in Cincinnati, which is right near Lexington, so we're really in the orb of the 02:10:00reform movement still, just by that virtue. So, I would love to see us merge, I'd love to see us one people, one congregation. I think there's strength in numbers, especially as we dwindle. But who knows what'll happen, it's human nature.
DONAHUE: What about other Jewish community groups, like the Jewish Federationof the Bluegrass? Have you had any involvement with them?
SHRABERG: My wife and I do give to that. My wife has been on the board, beforeshe became president. I've been involved with the Federation--I've been a member of the temple and synagogue, too, over the years, by the way, so I've done both. Uh, yeah, I think that there again, uh, our resources are so stretched that it's hard to do it all, but there is--the Jewish Federation is supposed to be a way of bringing all the Jews of the bluegrass together, so, uh--and there's other organizations, so, uh, there's Hadassah, which supports Hadassah Hospital in Israel, it's a women's organization, my wife's a member of 02:11:00that. So there's several volunteer organizations. These organizations, like Hadassah and Jewish Federation, again, were much stronger when your only social outlet was being part of the Jewish community. When you have kids playing soccer, you have all these other activities, UK sports and athletics, it's hard to get people to attend functions to support all these in this community now, because we're so assimilated.
DONAHUE: Did your kids attend any of their functions while they were growing up?
SHRABERG: My kids were involved in youth group and they did attend some camps,Jewish camps, so they had some involvement. Uh, probably not as much as I wished, but they made friends from some of their camps that they've kept over the years, so I'm happy about that, and these were Jewish friends, from all over the country, all over the region, which is nice. I mean, Lexington and Louisville are the main Jewish communities, there are little peripheral communities in Paducah and elsewhere, but yeah, I mean, it's good to know Jews in other states and parts of the country, so that's been a good thing about some 02:12:00of the camps that they've gone to, youth camps.
DONAHUE: So looking back, what, if anything, would you change about yourrelationship with Judaism?
SHRABERG: Uh, I probably, retrospectively, wish I'd been, and I guess maybe I'mstarting to show my age, I'm sixty-nine now, I wish I'd have been maybe more strongly identified myself as Jewish with my kids, and maybe, you know, I--unfortunately I'm also a byproduct of the great assimilation, and even though my childhood was fashioned by this, you know, as I've gotten older in America I'm part of what's happening in our culture, where we're diversified, we're assimilated. I wish I'd had had strong--I want my children to be Jewish. I just fear the disappearance of the Jewish people, and, you know, people say, well, what did you do? And if I say, well, you know, they all got bar mitzvahed. Is that all, bar mitzvahed? Well, I didn't stand up to them when they wanted to marry outside the faith, I didn't enforce them and encourage them 02:13:00to marry a Jewish boy or girl. I really didn't, because I felt that's almost like a gentile saying you have to marry a Christian, not a Jew, or something, you know. It just sounded--I wish there was some way, and maybe I'm hoping that--I wish I could've done more, I guess, to reinforce the Jewish identity in my children, but, you know, I did the best I could. But I think if you ask what I wish I'd have done more--but, you know, like everybody in this society, between your job and demands, and unfortunately the temptations of social life, I was probably not as observant a Jew as I wished I could've been. And you know, it's sad, because I'm like so many people of my generation, as you get older, then you become more observant, for yourself, but your children have grown now, they don't--they're not going to be influenced by--if I go to temple, which I try to go two or three times a month now, they don't see that. When they were growing up I would go when they had to go, but I didn't necessarily go because I wanted to go.
DONAHUE: So I'm going to ask you a question that's probably impossible to02:14:00answer, but what's the core of that Jewish identity for you? Is it religious? Is it cultural? Is it about history?
SHRABERG: Boy, that's a tough question, it is. You know, and I've thought thisover my whole life, you know. As I said early on, growing up in Lexington gave me--I was Jewish by default, I was forced to be Jewish, because I didn't have a choice. So I can't be proud of that. You know, I think that what makes--and this is--I hate to sound chauvinistic. To me, I'm a student of history, the idea that I have DNA in me that goes back thousands of years and that's in the history books, to think that I'm part of the longest surviving ethnic group in the world, and that we produced this belief, this monotheism, and this text that certainly our society, you know, observes, you know, we're still a Judeo-Christian society, that gives me great pride, yeah. I like that 02:15:00belonging. I'm embarrassed because I haven't been a better Jew, but I love the thought of having that--the very thing the Nazis tried to kill us over is the very thing that I'm so proud of, you know, that we've been able to carry on for thousands of years. Nobody else has been able to do that, you know. And by hook or crook, we've done it. You know, I don't think intermarriage in any way ruined us. I'm convinced that if we hadn't intermarried, we'd have died out thousands of years ago. But we've kept the idea alive, you know. I was always proud--the term I loved in school, and I know it's not politically correct now, but as a Jew, even when I was starting, I guess, junior high school, when they said, we are a Judeo-Christian society--we don't say that anymore, I know, but for a Jew who grew up in Lexington, it was such a nice thing to say. Oh, I'm part of this great nation, Judeo-Christian, you know. And when I, you know--the old days, when you went to university, you had to learn--it was either Hebrew and/or Greek or Latin, but you had to learn Hebrew, because you had to read Bible. So I love being part of that, those people, that root. I don't care how 02:16:00many Jewish doctors there are or how many--what the average, you know, I don't think it's--I think it's a myth how rich the Jew is or what Jew is that. I mean, that's nice, to know somebody is Jewish or somebody is not Jewish, you know, like--there's so many famous people that were--Einstein was Jewish. That's great. That's not as important to me as to be part of that just long line. I don't care if you're the humblest, poorest Jew, to be part of that tradition that goes back thousands of years, you know, when people read about Moses and Abraham, they're reading about my people. I mean, I have--I did that 23 and Me thing, and my DNA goes back thousands of years, I still have that DNA in me, and that makes me feel kind of cool. It's kind of a neat thing. I'm not bragging, but it's just, it's a message that you carry a good ideal on, you should maintain the ideal, because the basic ideals of Judaism are very much like Christianity, you know. Charity, treat your neighbor like yourself, have a belief in justice. The God thing is different, we have our different versions 02:17:00of God, but that's not the core of Judaism. So that part I'm really, yeah, but always a tough question, what makes--yeah. The selfish parts I try to avoid, like Einstein was a Jew, Freud was Jew. I mean, there are famous--just as many famous Christians as Jews as Buddhists, but that part, that we were able to maintain that, nobody else has done that, nobody. So that's kind of cool. And we've survived. Even though we were a little shtetl group of Jews here, you know, we--if you look at me, you realize that, you know, way, way, way back there was Abraham and Moses, they're all my people. So that's kind of cool. Here I am in Lexington. So that part's neat. I like that part. That's the part--and that's why I worry about what'll be here 100 years. Are we going to just be like in the zoo, like part of the panda population? That was a Jew, that's what they looked like. I hope not.
DONAHUE: Is there anything else that you'd like to say that I haven't asked you about?
SHRABERG: No, but thank you for making me think. I'm a big talker, so I'dbetter shut up. I enjoyed it, and I'm sorry for keeping you late. 02:18:00
DONAHUE: No, it was--thank you so much for coming in. It's very interesting,and we really appreciate it.
SHRABERG: My pleasure. Thanks.
[End of interview.]