Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Mike Ades, June 22, 2016

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

 

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00:00:00 - Family background

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Partial Transcript: For official purposes, today is June 22nd, 2016. My name is Janice Crane, and I am part of the interviewing team for the Jewish Kentucky Oral History Project funded by the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence.

Segment Synopsis: Mike Ades (born March 1st, 1940) begins the interview by detailing his family background, including that his mother worked as a housewife and his father owned and operated a family dry goods business. He discusses how his grandfather, David Ades, immigrated from Lithuania around 1895. He discusses how his family played an integral role in the founding of Ohavay Zion Synagogue; Mike's grandfather David Ades and his brother Max Ades being the two founders. He talks about how his grandfather received the Optimus Cup in the 1950s for his work in civic and service organizations in the community.

Keywords: 1882; 1940; David Ades; Francis Lederman; Good Samaritan Hospital on Harrison Ave; Isaac Lederman; Lexington, Kentucky; Lithuania; Lithuanian immigrants; Louis Ades; Louisville, Kentucky; Michael Lederman Ades; Ohavay Zion Synagogue (Lexington)

Subjects: Emigration and immigration.; Entrepreneurship; Families.; Family histories.; Immigrants; Jewish businesspeople; Jewish families.; Judaism.; Lexington (Ky.); Louisville (Ky.); Religion; Small business--Kentucky; Small business--Ownership; Worship (Judaism)

GPS: Good Samaritan Hospital on Harrison Ave
Map Coordinates: 38.0422246, -84.5006583
00:20:22 - Growing up in the Ades-Lexington Dry Goods Company in the 1940s

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Partial Transcript: From previous interviews and research and conversations that I’ve had with, um, other members of the Jewish community, it’s clear that there were small--some of these small general stores...

Segment Synopsis: Ades discusses a general history of his knowledge of the Jewish-owned stores in Lexington, Kentucky. He notes that he never noticed that there was any discrimination against Jewish-owned stores or anything that really separated them from the community at-large. He then discusses the dry goods business that his family owned and operated. The Ades family owned and operated the Ades-Lexington Dry Goods Company in Lexington, Kentucky from 1925 to 1977. Ades discusses how even today he still will drive by the old building, located at 249 West Main Street, because it holds very fond memories of his childhood, from playing with the toys on the third floor as a young boy to working at the store over the summers in high school.

Keywords: Ades Dry Goods; Ades Lexington Dry Goods Company; Ades-Lexington Dry Goods Building; Ades-Lexington Dry Goods Company; Big business; Dry goods; Jewish; Jewish businesses; Jewish communities; Jewish holidays; Jewish merchants; Lexington, Kentucky; Small businesses

Subjects: Childhood; Discrimination.; Entrepreneurship; Families.; Family histories.; Jewish businesspeople; Jewish children; Jewish families.; Judaism.; Lexington (Ky.); Small business--Kentucky; Small business--Ownership

GPS: Ades-Lexington Dry Goods Building
Map Coordinates: 38.044211, -84.49421799999999
00:27:17 - History of family involvement with Jewish Hospital and St. Joseph Hospital

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Partial Transcript: Let’s leave Lexington and the ’80s for a bit and talk some about your maternal grandfather, Dr. Isaac Lederman, from Louisville. I found several interesting articles about him dating back to the late-1800s.

Segment Synopsis: Ades talks about his maternal grandfather, Dr. Isaac Lederman, mainly through what he knows from articles written about his grandfather and what few stories his mother told him growing up about how his grandfather was a very prominent physician. He talks about how his grandfather worked at Jewish Hospital until his passing. He then goes on to discuss how his family has a history of serving on boards for Jewish Hospital and St. Joseph Hospital in Lexington in the 1950s, and even how he himself is now on the board for KentuckyOne Health, which owns Jewish Hospital.

Keywords: 1890; 1896; David Ades; Isaac Lederman; Jewish Hospital; Louisville Hospital; Louisville, Kentucky; St. Joseph Hospital; University of Louisville; University of Louisville Medical School

Subjects: Families.; Family histories.; Hospitals; Jewish families.; Jewish leadership--Kentucky--Louisville; Jewish physicians.; Louisville (Ky.); Medical care

GPS: Jewish Hospital, Louisville (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.2490, -85.7513
00:33:41 - Growing up Jewish in Lexington, Kentucky in the 1950s

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Partial Transcript: Mike, you have a strong Kentucky background going back to the 1800s on both sides of your family, and your family history, especially here in Lexington, is clearly rooted in the Jewish community. So what was Judaism in your family like growing up?

Segment Synopsis: Ades discusses growing up in a Jewish family. He discusses how his grandparents (who immigrated from Lithuania) belonged to Ohavay Zion Synagogue, which was an Orthodox congregation at the time and would eventually become a conservative congregation. He talks about how his grandparents kept a kosher home, how they would go for Shabbos every Friday night to their grandparents' home, and how his grandfather would close the dry goods store on the high holidays and walk to the synagogue. He also discusses how his grandfather was a member of Temple Adath Israel, a reform congregation. Ades talks about how his father grew up in both Temple Adath Israel and Ohavay Zion Synagogue, and married a reform Jewish woman, and how this impacted his life growing up in a Jewish household because as a child he too split his Jewish observance between the two local Lexington congregations like his father before him. However, he says that he doesn't see growing up between the two congregations as being any sort of challenge or disadvantage in any way.

Keywords: High holidays (Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur); Jewish; Jewish communities; Kashrut (see also Kosher food); Ohavay Zion Synagogue (Lexington); Orthodox Judaism; Reform Judaism; Shabbat (also Shabbos, Sabbath); Temple Adath Israel (Lexington, synagogue)

Subjects: Childhood; Emigration and immigration.; Entrepreneurship; Families.; Family histories.; Immigrants; Jewish businesspeople; Jewish children; Jewish families.; Judaism.; Lexington (Ky.); Religion; Small business--Kentucky; Small business--Ownership; Worship (Judaism)

GPS: Temple Adath Israel
Map Coordinates: 38.0357, -84.4828
00:46:35 - Growing up Jewish--Parental influences vs educational influences

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Partial Transcript: What did your parents teach you about Judaism?

Segment Synopsis: Ades discusses how growing up in a Jewish household and his familial influences on Jewish life differed from life as a Jewish student in school. He talks about how his parents and grandparents served as examples for living a Jewish life through their respect for family, membership in both congregations, and community involvement. He talks about being a Jewish student at Henry Clay High School, including how being a Jewish student was being a part of a very small close-knit minority. Ades says that he never experienced any anti-Semitism as a high school student. He then goes back to his family influence on his Jewish identity and talks about one of his most vivid memories growing up being going to his grandfather's house for Shabbos.

Keywords: Henry Clay High School (Lexington); Holiday Road (Lexington); Jewish; Jewish holidays; Jewish identity; Jewish life; Jewish tradition; Judaism; Kashrut (see also Kosher food); Kheyder (see also Hebrew school, Sunday school); Lexington, Kentucky; Morton Junior High School (Lexington); Shabbat (also Shabbos, Sabbath)

Subjects: Families.; Family histories.; Jewish families.; Judaism.; Lexington (Ky.); Religion; Worship (Judaism)

GPS: Henry Clay High School, Lexington (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.0151968, -84.47270700000001
01:01:52 - University of Pennsylvania in the late 1950s / Meeting his future wife Harriet at Yale Law School in the 1960s

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Partial Transcript: Where did you go to college, and what did you study?

Segment Synopsis: Ades talks about his time as a college student at the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania. He ended up taking his junior year abroad at Edinburgh University in Scotland and traveled to many places in Europe. Upon returning to the United States he changed his major to political science and then applied to law school. He attended law school at Yale Law School in New Haven, Connecticut. During his time at the University of Pennsylvania he joined a Jewish fraternity, Phi Epsilon Pi. He met his wife Harriet during his third year of law school and they married on July 11th just after he graduated. They have been married for 51 years.

Keywords: 1950s; 1960s; Colleges; Edinburgh University; Phi Epsilon Pi; Scotland; University of Pennsylvania; Yale Law School; Yale University

Subjects: College students--Social conditions; Education, Higher; Law schools.; Marriage; Universities and colleges.

GPS: University of Pennsylvania
Map Coordinates: 39.9522188, -75.1932137
01:11:38 - Raising Jewish children and impact of family values on children's observance of Judaism

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Partial Transcript: Describe any major differences or similarities that you and Harriet had growing up Jewish that might have impacted how you raised your kids.

Segment Synopsis: Ades discusses his and his wife Harriet's Jewish upbringings and how they both approached raising Jewish children. He says that his wife was raised in a more Reform Jewish background, while he became more active in the conservative Ohavay Zion Synagogue. However, his wife ended up having a stronger feeling toward conservative Judaism that he did, which is why they maintained their membership more at Ohavay Zion over Temple Adath Israel. They both knew they wanted to raise their children Jewish and had their children pursue early education through Ohavay Zion (noting the fact that they did not split membership for their children between the Temple and the Synagogue.) He talks about how some of his children increased the level of Judaism in their life by deciding to keep Kosher and go to Israel but then later drifted away from Judaism. His son David became an active member of Ohavay Zion in Lexington and later an active member of a Reform congregation in Durham, North Carolina.

Keywords: Conservative Judaism; Israel; Jewish; Jewish education; Jewish holidays; Jewish identity; Jewish practices; Jewish religion; Jewish society; Jewish tradition; Ohavay Zion Synagogue (Lexington); Reform Judaism; Temple Adath Israel (Lexington, synagogue)

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

GPS: Ohavay Zion Synagogue
Map Coordinates: 7.9986, -84.4718
01:22:44 - Leadership roles in the Jewish community and Spinoza Society

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Partial Transcript: As long as I've known you you've been such a constant and critical piece of the fabric of the Lexington Jewish community, Mike.

Segment Synopsis: Ades talks about his various leadership roles in the community as well as his work with the Spinoza Society. He tells us that his primary motivation for taking on these leadership roles is from his grandfather David Ades and how involved his grandfather and his parents were in the Jewish community. He also tells us that the experiences he had growing up Jewish (Bar Mitzvah, confirmation, etc.) greatly impacted his feelings toward Judaism and the Jewish community, as well as being in a Jewish fraternity. He then talks about his work with the Spinoza Society (a society founded in 1880 that created a place for Jews in Lexington to be buried together.) Ades became a member in the mid-1980s and has since served on the board of the society and as the chair.

Keywords: Cemeteries; Jewish; Jewish burials; Jewish cemeteries; Jewish communities; Jewish life; Jewish traditions; Leadership; Spinoza Society

Subjects: Families.; Family histories.; Jewish families.; Jewish leadership--Kentucky--Lexington; Jews--Identity.; Judaism.; Religion; Worship (Judaism)

01:33:08 - Israel and Zionism influencing identity

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Partial Transcript: What was the--what has been the role of Israel and Zionism in your activities and of your identity as a Jew?

Segment Synopsis: Ades discusses how Israel and Zionism has played a role and impacted his personal Jewish identity. Through Sunday school and youth groups he became aware of the significance of the Holocaust and Israel. He wanted to spend a few months in Israel over the summer before returning from his year abroad in Edinburgh but his parents were strongly against it so he returned home. His feelings about Israel were reinforced through his work in United Jewish Appeal, and in 1972 he went on a UJA mission to Israel. Later in life he and his wife Harriet went back to Israel and other places in eastern Europe that held prominent history from the Holocaust. He went once more to Israel in 1992 sponsored by Hebrew University. He says that the attachment to Israel and Zionism has always been a part of his life.

Keywords: Eastern Europe; Jewish; Sunday school; United Jewish Appeal; Zionism

Subjects: Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945); Israel.; Jews--Identity.; Judaism.; Religion; Worship (Judaism)

01:38:32 - Work as an attorney with Stoll, Keenon, & Park (1965-1980) and Greenebaum, Doll, & McDonald (1980-onward)

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Partial Transcript: Mike, let’s talk about your work as an attorney for a little bit. What area of law is your specialty?

Segment Synopsis: Ades discusses his time as an attorney. He became a part of Stoll Keenon & and Park in 1965 and was the only Jewish member at the time. His law practice over the next 15 years was about half release and half general law work. He became a partner in the firm after about 6 years. In 1980, he switched law firms to the Lexington office of the Greenbaum Doll & McDonald firm (at the persistence of his wife's brother) and specialized just in commercial real estate.

Keywords: Attorneys; Commercial law; Greenebaum Doll & McDonald; Greenebaum, Doll, & McDonald; Real estate; Stoll Keenon & Park; Stoll, Keenon, & and Park

Subjects: Jewish lawyers; Lawyers--Kentucky

01:41:22 - Lexington Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission

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Partial Transcript: Mike, I don't know if you've ever Googled yourself--

Segment Synopsis: Ades talks about his time as treasurer of the Lexington Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission. He describes the organization as being formed in the early 1960s and fighting discrimination in all aspects of the community. Within a year of joining he became treasurer.

Keywords: Lexington Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission

Subjects: Discrimination.; Social action

GPS: Lexington Fayette Urban County Human Rights Commission
Map Coordinates: 38.029187, -84.51771500000001
01:44:47 - Work with healthcare institutions in the 1970s and 1980s

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Partial Transcript: And an article I found mentioned, um, and you spoke a little bit about, your position with both the Saint Joseph Healthcare System and the KentuckyOne Health.

Segment Synopsis: Ades discusses his work with various healthcare and medical institutions including KentuckyOne Healthcare and St. Joseph Healthcare. In the mid-1980s he served for 3 years on the advisory board of the Humana Hospital in Lexington, which was sold in the late 1980s to Jewish Hospital in Louisville. Ades was then asked to serve on the Lexington board for Jewish Hospital, which was then sold a year later to St. Joseph Hospital and Ades was again asked to serve on the advisory board. He then was asked to go on the board of KentuckyOne Health when they bought out St. Joseph and Jewish Hospital and served for three years (which he recently renewed). He had no prior hospital experience before serving on all of these boards.

Keywords: Catholic Health Initiative; Jewish; Jewish Hospital; KentuckyOne Health; Lexington, Kentucky; Louisville, Kentucky; St. Joseph Hospital

Subjects: Hospitals; Jewish physicians.; Lexington (Ky.); Louisville (Ky.); Medical care

GPS: St. Joseph Hospital, Lexington (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.032462, -84.5236511
01:49:29 - Work with the Plantory organization in the 1970s

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Partial Transcript: Explain what the Plantory is, and tell us what your role with the relatively new nonprofit has been and what you know about its beginnings and its relationship to the Kentucky Conference for Community and Justice.

Segment Synopsis: Ades talks about his work with the Plantory non-profit organization. He talks about the history of the Plantory, which began as a national organization at the National Conference of Christians and Jews in the 1920s that held conferences to facilitate conversations and work between Christians and Jews. Ades says that he joined the board of the Lexington chapter in the 1970s and left in the 1980s.

Keywords: Christians; Interfaith council; Jewish; Jews; The Plantory

Subjects: Christianity; Jews--Identity.; Judaism.; Religion

GPS: The Plantory
Map Coordinates: 38.05978140000001, -84.49189309999997
01:54:30 - Most rewarding leadership experience

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Partial Transcript: You know, we've probably barely touched on all of your civic leadership roles.

Segment Synopsis: Ades discusses his most rewarding leadership experience, which he says was during his time as president of Ohavay Zion Synagogue under the direction of Rabbi Schwabb in the mid-1980s. He talks about how the rabbi was very ill and many members in the synagogue believed that the synagogue should become more egalitarian. He discusses the conflict between the conservative views of some of the members of the congregation and the orthodox views of the rabbi and other members. He talks about how when Rabbi Schwabb passed away, a new rabbi (Rabbi Uri Smith) came into the congregation who was more open to the idea of female participation. He notes that not a single member left the congregation because of the change, though some may have disapproved, and he feels that it made the congregation stronger.

Keywords: 1980s; Conservative Judaism; Jewish; Jewish communities; Jewish women; Judaism; Leadership; Orthodox Judaism; Transition periods

Subjects: Jewish leadership--Kentucky--Lexington; Jewish women--Kentucky--Lexington; Jews--Identity.; Judaism.; Rabbis; Religion; Worship (Judaism)

GPS: Ohavay Zion Synagogue
Map Coordinates: 37.9986, -84.4718
01:59:44 - Jewish identity and its impact on his work as an attorney and civic leader

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Partial Transcript: What role, if any, has your faith, your Jewishness, had on your work as an attorney or as a civic leader?

Segment Synopsis: Ades says that the traditional ethical values of Judaism (being involved in the community, helping others who are less fortunate, and doing the right thing and encouraging others to do the same) which come from both his Jewish faith and heritage certainly shaped who he is as a member of the Lexington community and are a few of the main reasons behind why he does so much communal work with human rights organizations.

Keywords: Jewish; Jewish Federation of the Bluegrass; Jewish communities; Jewish identity; Jewish life; Jewish practices; Jewish religion; Jewish tradition; Judaism; Lexington, Kentucky

Subjects: Jewish leadership--Kentucky--Lexington; Jews--Identity.; Judaism.; Religion; Social reformers; Worship (Judaism)

GPS: Jewish Federation of the Bluegrass
Map Coordinates: 40.7127837, -74.00594130000002