Jewish Women in World War II: An Oral History Project
There is little documentation concerning the American Jewish women whose lives were changed by WWII.
This website features excerpts of longer interviews, describing the many new roles American Jewish women played as a result of the war, both on the home front and in the armed services, and how they reacted and adapted to adversity. JHSGNH volunteers interviewed and copied pictures and memorabilia from several of these women who live in the New Haven area, who are now in their mid 80’s to 90’s.
DVDs of the complete interviews are in the JHSGNH archives and available upon request.
The project was undertaken by the Jewish Historical Society of Greater New Haven in conjunction with related projects of the Jewish Women’s Archives. Brookline MA and the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford.
Ruth enlisted in the WAVES and worked in communications as a decoder, then worked in recreation supervising the WAVES pool. She kept a scrap book of her experiences, which she has donated to the Jewish Historical Society of Greater New Haven.
A New Haven native, Rita Melman was a teenager during World War II. Her family owned and managed a hotel in New Haven. After the U.S. entered the war, her father and brother went into the service, leaving her and her mother to run the hotel. During this interview, she recalls the challenges and difficulties she and her mother experienced during this time.
Mitzi was in high school when the war broke out. She describes her memories of the war, the support from Hillhouse High School students who enlisted and purchased war bonds, and her training as a nurse toward the end of the war.
Laura Small Levine
A young bride during World War II, Laura Levine followed her husband to three Army postings in the U.S. before he was shipped out to Europe. She describes life as an Army wife, her experience working as a “Rosie the Riveter” in the Watertown Arsenal in Brookline, Massachusetts.
Lucille Alderman talks about the impact of the war on her family. Her brother Sidney was killed in the service. She and her family worked on the home front to support the war effort rationing, saving reusable materials, using the ever present blackout window shades.
Edith Gillman served in the Navy as a WAVE. Born in Minnesota to Russian Jewish immigrant parents, she joined the WAVES because she was “determined to get away from home and do my part somehow.” In the WAVES she trained to be a pharmacist’s mate and served at a hospital base in California where she cared for mentally and physically wounded soldiers from Europe.