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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida.
Interviewee: Minnie Persoff
Interviewer: Evelyn Blum
Date: May 8, 1982 Tape 31A side 1.
This interview is taking place in Minnie Persoff's home in Boynton.
B: Minnie, how many years are you living in Florida?
P: At least 48 years.
B: Where did you come from?
P: I came from New York,
B: Were you married before you came here?
P: I was a newlywed.
B: ... .. Can you tell me something about your background, Were-
yetoboxn in New York? Where were you born?
P: I was born in Russia, and I came to this country with my mother and my brother.
I was about six or seven months old when I came here,
B; You mentioned your mother, was your father over here before?
P: My father had come here first, He had left Russia because of the programs.
-wa 1 u vj-.- rp.- hi pey were going to get him into the front lines. He
left for America and my mother followed,
B: When you say that they were going to get him into the front lines, were you
talking about fighting?
P; Yes, there was a war going on.
B: So your dad came over here firsthand then he sent for your mother, you and
your brother, Where did your family settle?
P; We settled in New York City, like the rest of the immigrants downtown.
B: Did you stay there most of your adoles ence?
P: Well yes, up-ati, up until 9 .year I'm not really sure of the ageL Maybe
even eight years old, I don't quite remember.
B: And then where did you go?
P: We went to Jersey City,
B: And how long did you live in Jersey City?
P: 'Inder-y CITt, ue must'rIaFe-ved--there, Jt's hard to remember but we
must have lived there about 15 years,
B: Did you finish ighghchool Minnie
P: No I did not, I went back to high school in the evening.
B: Why is that? Did you have to work?
P: Yes)I had to work, I worked at age 12,
B: What did you do Minnie?
P: Well whatever job I could get, because those were yery hard times and my family
depended upon me, My father was a sick man, and I was next to the oldest in
the family, My brother was the oldest I had to find wor1 I stayed with a
family that had a little girl that had to be taken care of. ,ut, just for a
short while, because as humble as my house wasI wanted to get back home)an "
Ifoun2dQ.ther-work later on, I worked in a tobacco factory I 4-ty--ea
acrdg t th "^se.. 1I earned good moneyAbecause I was a very hard workerE
The familyfs se had to depend on me/ -o I sometimes worked at night in
the store o it was a difficult time, just really like an immigrant although
I was only a baby when I came here,
B: And how many siblings were there in your family?
B: -&&-in other words you helped support all your brothers and sisters,
P; Oh yes, when. I was twelve I went to work, I was already earning,
B; Tell me, how old were you when you met Al Persoff,
P: I was in my, 20' I think I wastr'eh 27,
B: Had you already gone back to school to get your high school diploma?
P: Wa4 nioI couldn'It T workei-r=a gLht--t=t- I worked at night in a store,
and during the day T had my regular job, Soetat- had to wait. Later on I
did go back,, ut I never finished,
B: When you met Al, what was J doing at the time?
P: ,a .that was during the depression, Tese times were very hard.
B: What years are we talking about?
P; Ts the beginning of the 1930'9)of course the depression was
along 30, 34, We got married during the depression in 1933, It was very
difficult during that time to get married, pt we finally didq
B; When did you come to Florida?
P; 4-Ihia k xe wae married about nine months A My brother offered Al a position
here in the store,
B; What was your brother doing?
P; : had a ready-to-wear store, mens and ladies wear,
B: What was your brother's name?
P: A, Al Waxman,
B; That s your maiden name,
P: Yes, that's my maiden name,
B; And Al .ehadi-.. I he ad settled in Florida long before?
P; Oh yes, In fact many years before,
B: What year was it? Do you remember when you came to Florida,
P: We* it must have been in the mid 30's, Because we were married in 1933, so
it must have been in 1936,
B: 1S in 1936 you came to Florida. Did you have any children at that time?
B: NO-imie3 Where did you settle when you came here in 1936?
P: .n- w e eJttd-ie n Delray Beach.
B; p.hy in Delray Beach?
P; Because the second store was in.Delray.Beach, And Al was in charge of the
second store, F6 found a little house to live inaind,.
B; Were there any Jewish families in Delray Beach?
P: Very few. Those that were there were business people,
B: Is there a difference between Delray and Delray Beach : p -. aQi?
B; But I' understand,-kese -mwTs r g at that time they didn't allow Jewish
P: That's true, but that was before we got there. It was like moving into another
world, It was a beautiful town fgitB n s an art colony, and the
people we met were lovel aad-,1eally enjoyed i except from time to time
we found that people were anti emiticQ t* when you talked about a Jew they
asked yo what is a Jew?> As if you were some kind of an animal. What do you
do, bow do you eat, you know, questions that are idiotic really,
B: You would think tht they would know,
P: -P rrhey didn't.
B: Did these questions come from intellectual people,
p: :91W, N)-Ohly the people that lived here.
B; RMipMXXm^XWXXAXMXXXKN g ( fyp at sort of people lived there?
P; People that came from out-of-town, '.An Delray Beach was a beautiful little
town, They settled here and they were free to do their art.
A- CAnd the people that lived in the sticks te.k west of town the farmers were
very ignorant people, They didn't know about anything really, And especially
when thmiss someone there tht they had never met before, They asked
B: Did you have an3 friends in Delray Beach? B-y Tae anyJeisy J frtns?"
P: Of course. Jewish people will band together.
B: (ow many were there do you remember?
P: Well there were the Zuckermarn*s,) zr-e"enot I ",u-ge"an't thin
S-i+a. at there were four or five at that time L-yr cca 'eMeef 1r'(.
B; if you wanted to go to services ,\ ere did you go?
P: We went to West Palm Beach. That-wmad-be-the-Temple Beth El on Fern Street.
It was a small temple, We did all our grocery shopping in WI1 Palm Beach.
My mother lived with me too and she wanted kosher food, W had to go into
& -Wen ere did they have kosher food in WePalm.
P: They had a man by the name of GoldbergA had a kosher store there.
B; Do you remember where it was?
P: On Clematis Street right over the tracks. They were very nice people and
we got our kosher food there, It was difficult for them to get all the meat
in, so we banded together with a few of the wish people in W alm Beach,
andep off to Jacksonville, And-that-s--how-we-got-the-Jewish .....
B: So you're mother lived with you in Delray.,P:Not all the time, She did live
with pie yes, but later on we moved to West Palm,
B: mefj your oldest boy Michael(). .p
P: He was born in New York. I lived here)4* went to New York to have him because
my parents were still living l went bact- "
,-I felt kind of strange here yeto
B; How old is Michael?
P: Michael is now 46>
B: And Michael isin Denver e-i doctor)
P: Yes, .s
B: In fact all three of your boys are doctors., / Michael was born in New York
and you came back here, Did your mother come back with you at that time?
P: .ter-, my mother and my father came down, My mother had an apartment at
first in W^"'Palm Beach -6ne of my brother Al's apartments- They first
stayed with me-whetuy and then went to W', Palm Beach.
B: When did you move to W.: Palm Beach? Did you give up the business in Delray?
r-P--.fu LIldL ba.-gF1ruWesetiLed in
B: Yu moved iuLOu W.' Paln"i?
BP---Mn my ot-her Tn3e ?
B-Bt--t--hwu l buuL you and Al, whlc-dLd yuu move?
P: I have to try and remembers Jt's so long ago that I don't quite remember when.
B: Was Michael a little baby when you moved away?
P: YeshA Saa A hen we came to WPalmhe was a baby.
B: Why did you decide to move out of Delray?
P: Well beca Delray was a little town, and most of the Jewish people were in
W' Palm Beactrdf w had begun to experience little anti- emetic cracks that
disturbed us, ib .nothing to real.say anything about A4nd w-s lkt-eer -*
wn liv n ueray tor a long tme because we had Lhe store o ake a
Sf ,--Yp w .a ig ti -n7- hen we first
cameAwe couldn't go near Delray/
a -- ..-...-- r et e_ r. ,Then we went back and
forth and we really settled in Delray for quite a number of years, We ran a
store and Michael grew up to be a nine year oldjwIu we left Delray and built
a house in WV'Palm Beach. Xhoi-refjn we d- ht because we knew that
bringing up a child in Delray would not be thoe-pL s at that particular timers
s Michael -fetaT.,,, re used to ask me "Ma, why do they call me a dirty
|ew? I'm not dirty",.
B: This was in Delray?
T SP^'i ( I Is
P: This was in Delra -r- .--This wis just a little ignorant boy and
he doesn't know any better, Don't take it seriously, but don't have anything
to do with him. 4 .we found more and more of these complaints,
B: And yet you said that there were Christian people that accepted you.
P: 2; yes, the people that we met from up north, most of them w& -artists. You
know Al was interested in Lrt, We had them over to the house. It was really
a lovely town and we have some very fond memories,
B: You think the anti -emitism was from the natives of Delray?
P: s s---'me I told you Nsow were the ignorant people. -a we had some
very harrowing experiences there.
B: Can you remember some of the experiences that you had?
P: One in particular L simply have to reccoud I remember Al used to go out to
the farmSto deliver merchandise. When we first got started that's the way
we did it.
B: In other words you put merchandise in your car and went out and )!e sold
it to people on the farms?
P: Right. Al made friends with the black people-Pta one man ha-i
Sa professor, a very intelligent man, Al used to love to sit there and talk
to him. He complained to Al that he doesn't know why he came here from up
North, because hev being harassed and be @s make a livingy n iA Al could
not understand why, because we were fresh from the city, We couldn't under-
people would harrass him
stand why/because wxaexfxHtrkxmxsxkkRxxity he was a very kindly gentleman.
But after awhile, Al began to understani^-nd that .. wasn't-the-ony_.,.,
B: The bigots were out,
P: They wereAoutiefi naly. A one time elarrie to Pompano, that's where he
did his business,
-4--4-e. The community there was in an uproar, and there was one of his customers
hanging from a tree,
SYes, one uf his black cusLu:'v-s. AB- little white children with BB guns were
shooting at him, while he was hanging dead from the tree. Later o -that
picture appeared in t-papet-r in a northern paper, and we cut it outD '4
Vt^. Vr^\AE WfNS
rimPan I don't have it 4i because my brother-in-lawA v a very much interested
in what was going on here at that time, and very radical about it and extremely
verbal, fB we-were afraid of, ,oceYCas ippev\\Gr )
B; tbat his life might be in jeopardy,<
P; k definitely. The th had
\\ ib p
doln't wmiT.a.,-am had said t thyl o getting a lot of mail ;kxMI
for this brother-in-law of yours and people are talking, He's going around
with. cameras and taking pictures and they don't like it, We had to tell him
not to do it. He went back home but he took the picture with him, That was
something I really wanted to keep, It was a horrible picture to see, but it
tells a history of the way people felt. 'In contrast, I was in a restaurant
in Delray,/I couldn't help but notice that there were three or four black
people sitting at these tables, My( ;d they would have been hanged right on
the spot if that had happened, pd I remember too, when I worked in the store
I had a black woman working for me in the house and I asked her to sit at the
tableA(She used to go outside to eat/g phn't onu c ," iw'tio? She said
o, nq(p .W hyxX-i--, I said Vll I can't have you sitting outside ere are
mosquitoes outside, come inside. When she came inx she finished eating--d
,5he-ewe in she said to me, I must tell you this?, -lease don't eyer ask me
to sit with you or to eat at the table, because I dontt want to be responsible
for your death, She put it as bluntly as that, Later on we had found out
many things that had happened there, For instance there was a man who came
to the house ye had to have someone to put in a cabinet, I donrt remember
exactly what the work was, but J remember it was carpentrT9 Judy was working
for me, and I had called her for something and she stood there petrified, and
couldn't move. I get the chills now when I think about it, I said"Julia,
what's wrong- and she just shook her head. But after the man left she sat
down and she talked to me, She said, "that man killed my son", I said, "How
could he do that", he said "He was youngand he didn't like the way he talked
to me and the family and he let him know, and he shot him". At that time there
was no justice for the black at all,
B; m, do you remember the years bset this took place,
P; ej= I.....s : it was in the 30's, We J-w et' been 7in t 'yet.--
B; Was Al ever harassed in the store or in the street?
P; Oh ye1jt&--had,/there was a young man, a redheadX theb called him wa liO
1g. *i, a very ignorant man from the sticksg-Jihe came into the store and
Snnhi m man a3i. n-- anl asked if he could get a pair of shoes, 4he oM ce Y T
_dzN,11 d *a 4S Al said
If course, and he sold him the pair of shoes and sid4-c h a couple of other
things A month went by and he didn't make an attempt to pay, so Al sent
him a bill. He came into the store with such anger t4a I thought he was
going to kill h He sai ow dare you send me a bill, You're aTew, ou
have plenty of money, I don't have the money and I'm not paying you. This
same man came to the beach. r had 10 some friendsNfrom W'?alm and we had
a picnic on the beach. My brother was playing ball with one of the children.
Someone suddenly picked up the ball, and he said to my brother, Come and
get it you ew. When I heard few T looked up and tntw was the man who was
called d", Se- I alke antetn-imr- was afraid that there-would be a
confrontation, so I walked over to him,and I sai y don't you leave him
alone, we're having fun.here, This is our picnic, If you have anything
to sayjcome into the store anytime, He said, 'This is my beach, bgs and
xJews don't belong here" We knew that we were in trouble, And there was no
point in doing anything, because no one was going to be for us, Aless
there would be one of the outsiders at the beachtierhaps he might do some-
thing, Y-uJ knjw when tier- ---"wrTo ntatl ,-
B: 96 Wat did you do?
P: Well)we left the beach
B; It must have been terrible,
P; It was terrible We left the beach E4a tkah we went to the police department
We told them what had happened, and to our surprise and anger they laughed
and said, Oh you just imagined that, was just playing with youthat's
allA// I can go on and on and tell you many things that have happened. And
despite all ( ",
yet/ikxxpixs mfxxia of this I ca4nt say fat I was unhappy there, We did
have some very lovely friends, and even some thatAlived there a long time.
-Bt-r-hey were northerners, and we were very close. They said just leave them
alone, don't say anything, because we'll only have trouble, and that was true.
In the weeks that followed this "!Red -h if he-utf l--- .--.Ms -. would
try and push my car over to the side i e oO l Se YVe c6v U ,nQG
B: Really!! i f :
P\ : Al I was afraid that)mr ?f m where there's/ hilly place, or i'ar' e'err'
water hat he would jt .......... I told my husband about this and
he told someone, . na-r.& can'
Al really enjoyed this man very much, v meffag ne-we h aaUIae
pidhitr-bouo- sho-eouldat, I just can't remember the name but he spoke
to the=j a a an outsidera he abe threatened himand the harrass-
"'4 '(7 Nv4 V ^ /
ment stopped On another occasion Kambling ose, s I think the name stands
for itself) had complained to the police that a black man had tried to rape
her hough I'm sure that she was raped many times before, literally. But
it was a black man and they didn't ask any questions after that /Rhey knew
the type of woman she was Sh( ew whit Theyx4XNm decided to have a curfew.
There was a whistle that blew that really scared every one of us at 9:00
o'clock sharp, Saturday.
B: That's your busy time,
p- Yz--Ty-- couldn't +try qiyt.g on, Tiey'na' s a'iLuff ier
rae- I tebiener tat whecurfew.''. culn__t -tast'_aiiMr--
-thaft-tWt- One thing that stands out in mymind thwe was when a little boy
was with his mother in our store.
f-Iack-bor -HE was very nervous and he was looking at his watch. He
"/ ,., /
his mother's skirt, and said j 've got to go we've got to go. Al said "I'll----
deliver" and let them go. But that was the climate at the time and it was
sad., I don't know whether I told you before about e mbling se, Tf-
reesv4 I want it to be it. ?i me to emphasize the fact tiat you didn't have
to be a nice person you only had to be whiteD If you were black you just
were nt very nice, Her name was ag ling Rose e.sIt ha tahey -ald4-her,
Jad t.hatspeaks-Eor-i.tsl-f.- She complained to the police that a black man
tried to rape herhey didn't ask too many questions, they.just liked to
curfew the blacks, 0 o'clock Saturday night the-is when we did all our
business, because during the week close earlier. But by nine o'clock
they had to be off the streets, That caused a lot of problems for a-he-tpeep.-
tha-Lhadt -shop-the white people that had she.s----the better shops in tow15
These are the stores that didn't allow the black people to try anything orn
They had to buy things as isg Right off the rack .wRe i ta chig..s---
.fn These are the little things that happen, I thi1-f t wengeaT SiSg 7now.
>o- Tiat was the climate at the timeand-fheTwe- n y IThi -th
.ppie'dantd ot irt4tt-e--t-s-nhe-tap-o- --
you telT me that before yu tot'd-me --iTttr ltrt- 1ct- k-by-- -.
--Pr"f s, whe we were living in Delray we had on Sun y we had the family over
and friends om W, Palm Beach, They came oyr and we had a picnic on the
beach, and we we playing ball and but n order to tell you this story I
had talked about this 'Red". He came rom the sticks, and was very ignorant.
What he didn't understand he hated, He certainly hated the word Jew because
he didn't understand what a w as, He had found out that we were Jewish,
I think on the tape I had tol y u that he had purchased a pair of shoes axtx
at our store and some other things ad asked us if we could give him credit,
and we did, Maetmonth passed and he ever paid. So we sent him a bill. He
came in with fire in is eyes and said "Ho dare you send me a bill, ye--r a
Jew and a Jew is rich, and you don't need my money and I'm not going to pay
it',' And that's/ the way it was, And this same ma I'm talking about the
incident on e beach., when we had all the family ovei and friends and they
were playing ball and suddenly r hear, "Try and get it, u Jew, you dirty Jew",
and I looked up and that was the same man and he grabbed the ball from the
kids and I just walked over and asked him not to cause a scene here that we're
/ here having fun and I had my friends .here and family. -0 i was ive nasty,
and must have- een drunk too. /He id, "No Jews an no dogs all wed hre",
/ that / .... h
Somehow I felt t at that a ncident that-s don't o by withdut-doirg some-
/ / / / -- / 'I
thing ab4ut it, So when we left t beach (e-a'dI.eave the beach) we went
to see the police and they laughed t the i cident and made n ing ofit
They sad, "He wsjist ha ing fun, that's all", Andso we kne that e Jew
hat- ea r u climate-was-no -righto.. et I have to ay again
anda ain, we hd some ma velous friends V genti e
'Peopl who were here, people froA the ar colony and we enj yed a
wond rful fried dship there, Butt popz ;f^ wr-Ty-- ed-it
S/ I, I ; i j 7 u,
the est end L-tthe-we't-nOtbb bTit t at's wherete -farmin ..weren't
-- -..... ", .... .' ;,'I'
edu ated and w at they didn't understand.'they hat d as I said before. What
we the other things hat we-- ft ut?f
we the ?h, "
Si e~p t'allin^ ~and we'll play/it bacrrer,
,; And then I think @1ae WYtT6-:the-time-we-moved youa .ed .o hen we
V wll\Sr WC: moved from DelrayX a eiis-w hrrwe built Ahomeo A04 that was about 194
"Aitl-because Myron was born in 1941 at Ae\ spital at 45th Street St. Mary's, )
That was the scn -cax- th. .es.. wli tll_ , 4,rIi T ff=ta-3E)
As.-T--told'-you before 'e moved because Michael had to go to Hebrew school and
aWT hdna to h^mg ? pl- we had to have a temple, so we moved to W Palm
and joined Temple Beth EIGArd Rabbi Greenstein was the rabbi at that timeQ
B: -h /i d Temple Beth El and.-you were- saying-ab out-the .a]n^condit4iQn- ,,-
_g -fow-t TTTtem pT O-F+ ieet. Did you have any air condition-
ing? W, hd fns -/
P: We had fans, c3h
B: You had no air conditioning?
P: Ia it rE- not at that tim.()
B: Put were you active in the sisterhood?
P: ft yeDs
B; What sort of things did you do?
P: I had a son going to UObw School, so-Aie I was active WxhaxxBx-sfxasixityx
B: What sort of- activity? Do you remember what you did? Did you dmah s have
dances-thuncheons and all those things?
P: Yes, all those things,
B: Were the Jewish people closely knit or did you have little factions.
P: Well there are always factions, but by and-large I think that the community
got along very well at -t-r ,r-when we had Rabbi Greensteirn It was really
very nicqq Maw-tmn(gxziUxhaxxUaxMx
B; [-'ow long cd4 he sta 'do you remembe-r,
A^^QL~ le- v^* bec'A
P; WOPl they put him out at Bar Mitzvah, wh&o-h4e-as there 13 year!O
B; 4Wl. they f-e4 they didn't like him?
P; They got Rabbi Landmaihey felt that they needed a different man there.
B: I see, -And hen what happened wit I'- oi people? .
P: .telJ t -t.)- -4-s C-tM' alr-eady ,Rlj yfm m n III'i j .i
P: Ie-tore the community apart, It was a very sad episode the, because brother
and sister weren't talking to each other and he did things that were uncon-
scionablet I6 4w' hard to believe that such a thing can happen)
B: Then.you couldn't stay there,
P; No couldn't stay there because I wouldn't be a part of it)left and went
to the temple in Lake WbrtlO
B: Was that a small temple when you got there?
P; Yes !it was a small temple, -ut we had atrTr-S-c t56 about 35 children
at that time I brought eight children with me, not just mine but the Shuman's
children, I used to take them there twice a week. :Yxwax
B: You were practically the sisterhood there were you not?
P: Yes. I was very active there, Well when your children4gp to school there,
Yo0 W C.-Q- )\
ygsayact ivc7i) Ye5--- -' w**as t -cULj4 ..
B; Minnie I know ,4t you were a leader and ;s. everybody came to you if they
needed advice or theyo -eeeded hell "-A ou sem to reach out to the entire
community and find them things that they needed,
P; I think that there were many of us that did that. It was a small community
here and we all knew each. other and .an&,a w those that were in need,
B: And there were Jewish people that needed, -k p0
P: Oh yes.there were In fact my mother was instrumental in that
and Mrs. Meose's mother. P-M Moss.
S.Wh.ich Mr -er are you talking about?.
-P. I Joni't Lhk--so,-r-I'z-^"? sure. ,ll ancyho we were all involved if
anyone needed anything. -Even with Erdexation-when ,Federation was-- gave
help to those several'-VWoen in Palm Beach that needed help)
B; People in Palm Beach #.tA- needed help!
P: Well)they weren't real residents there, they rented. They had some very
unfortunate experiences and they.were ill and the Federation helped,
B: But that was not the Federation that we have today? That was under Mr.
Schutzer, Did he help, '
P\Yes Shutzer and someone else after that. But that was later. hat's
how it started. -T41 woman needed help aearv- us and used to shop for her.
Those are the things we did- whien a person was sick and couldn't do any
shopping and couldn't take care of herself a74-y.ot w 'w-gent to visit and
Beek care of her May she rest in peace, Dr,- Shulkoff was one of the best.
She was t3e one that always stepped in when anyone needed helIg She e3-e
4oe really bhkt did so muchC> But in a small community it seems t-e* itf1only
B:: Minnie, you said that you were active with. se Holly Hospital whish-*s the
hupi.awy iit tuberculosis. lds -^ D
P: Yesiit wa-^a TB hospital then in Lantana. I went because JS the Red Crossy
7kh asked for helps It was a new experience for me because 1-h4d-my younger
son bf/was still a little boy. He was five or six years old at the time
and I was a little bit fearful,
B: To go where there was 'Ituberculosis.
P: Yes, \1ll I had to be x-rayed, jut it was a good experience. I enjoyed going
there because you know there are quite a fewjewish people, I remember one
person, I think you must remember her too. One-wora / young woman that just
cried out for help constantly, To be with family, to be with peoplq.-)-t-rt rr
:w.i real -
B; That-real-y-hcame-D Te're-Th me'iEm-aburut e USO What ji4-you remember
anything about -t
P; a-fl id wan'L La that Li,,,. you're talking about t "e,-,: a m We
were in Delray) -4e-=4t that time it wasn't called the USBreyrT wasTr
&J4-Tsh r ^p y b ^
eish rabbiL plain) asked me toK.' I became .ery friendly with his wife,
a young beautiful woma--gadtfcad he had quite a number ofJewish boys in
the service at Boca Raton, because that's where the airport was and the
headquarters were( I asked if I could have them over for dinner, I used to
have on Sunda ive or six boys over for dinner and I would try to make the
things that they would ask. fo) ra what I couldn't make the kabbi's wife
showed how to make. I didn't know how to make knishes and things of that
sort, YA-.w real ewish cooking. It was a wonderful experience because
you met some wonderful guys there. ,
B: Were you able to get s.me people in W'Palm Beach open up t-he homes to
P; No, we never tried that, because we were a community of our own there at that
tim)bkc-as- .twas south of town not north,- But yes we did go to W Palm
base south, of town> / Pa
,we.got one of the soldiers married ,>So had to go to W."Palm and Rabbi
Greenstein married th.eD Not fee Gti-... .. u.-. lolvo,
B: I see, Did you experience hurricanes when you lived in Delray.
B: Did i4 frighten you.
P: NO, When you-ryoung you don't frighten so easily you just think everything
i\ be .s fin(q I remember when we had to put the shutters up on the store windows.
It blew us down,/ And we ra; y got hurt a little but it wasn't much and we
had something to smile wty laugh abou t We had experienced something newj
\r-r et I think that we had a healthy respect for thenye there was another
hurricane that came later that was really bad. And it t fes. i.c nand some
lives were lostE Thet I think that we had more respect for them, but we still
had our partiesgo -Y -im* no frightening experiences
-npewys=e p-- all three boys grew up in W"Palm Beach,and went to
school at Belvedere Elementary School) 6 & they went to high school at
Palm Beach High, At that tim(l think it may have been when Nathan was there)
whke integration became a faceo
P: Oh yes, -bfeanseyoulTr g -me-to--, IWe-were talking about the Federation."
We were talking about people who needed hljlp--and that -ste was avery sick
woman kd- er husband had died and I had to be with her at the time, She
-wanted himi cremated, So worked (actually ,ftor Federation, but not the
Federation thatyou know today. Arid-the-;,, .you-had-askedfm -a-"-ques n+-
6 at as ou about the integration in high school, I thought that only
N-$&,' it was Myron that experienced it -
M because, Ebelonged to AZA and.-h was very active, As a project he chose
to go to hChildr e' home in the north end of town. That was the county
home for children, .-ac1 d he got base-
balls and gloves fro people He went around asking for equipment And f
course) everybody in the ewish community gaye/, nd he was so happy) He took
picturespand -t4fet ht the pctuTes to the Pos vsd t hey said they wa4= not
print these pictures because thtft- all blackSAnd=--h hl l--- -- -iTc.
Mew, he was born in '41 and he was already past thirteen. So you know it was
iXrthg..N'W.ell into the 40's, eyen into the 50's before the Civil Rights
B: They did not print pictures of black people,
P: Right and he couldn't understand it) And here again, I had a crying boy on my
hands Before it was Michael, and then it was Myron. Why- Why can't they
print the pictures, After all we were helping them, We wanted the children
to see their picture in the paper. ?Al I promised them they would see their
picture in the paper b I couldn't get it there, S of course we had to
go on and explain thalQ ut.L_-think that- was -the. onl experience that Myron
"had that was later,
B: e that w h t- had to be in the 50's0
P: 4o11 he was born in 41 so ad, -the early 50's)
B: The AJA came into being at that time?
-BqE- J.ihe i-Jhwi s--i1s-grttag t.oher. Were the Iewish kids friendlyxwikkt with
each other, .
P: Oh sure, they had their meetings herE) Yeaa the conventio)X -T-had -
thizk 10 children sleeping on the floor on the beds in my house,
Sr remember when Myron was a leader in A and very, very active, You were a
very busy mother. Entertaining, cooking and taking care of the kids. Those
were wonderful times really, when you look back at it, They were wonderful
times despite the things that weren't so nice There-was-anot-her--thing-that--
B: We4 i=X=R4--eeeyto-you e s..- go on--alki-nga7boatbo .-Now trT mber
i4n- a when I m- into the community, told -how we met ..,. everyone
P: All the Jewish food in the basket?
B; Yes, and of course we've been friends now,,going on 36 or 37 yearsV Bu itM
a d.a....t."a nb .o.r_-r h =Bt agf-3 eae, I'd like you to record
what you did for the haiir ati-on 'enter, the parties, that B'nai B'rith
P: No, That was with you, Without you I didn't do anything,
B: Well you were my guiding spirit.
P: Whatever you told me to.do I did- You were the leader therg I didn't do
anything but what you asked me to do, jf't, was a very active group there,
B'nai B'rith did a great deal for the H-Zib +iion Center there.
Soe cooi U
B; A do you remember when ags.*-w go on holidays to the Holly Hospital and
V=*-bring them presents.
P: Oh yes. That was for Chanukah. -
SThe women baked and we made little packages and ten the Cohen s in Riviera
Beach gave th*frui, We brought bags of fruit. Whatever people gave uso
We had tI p- we really had a party for then
B: After that gMe your third child, Nathan)was active ie-a-iD T....es
at a-f -i.s ".- 1- Palm Beach Hig7O
FT. di^allit hDL-w. i ih.
P: -O r. He was president of the class, ye.f. fd r- F p,\, \\ K
B: You continued to be active in the community,
P: Oh yes, especially when your children go to school, You-know the -ch-1
.,part-w e hoeld hua Many of the school parties were held in
my house, s !
B: It was in your house that we had discovered Jack Stgir and he became the I
rabbi in Belle Glad"e) and-that.was--done-in-your'house-- esP9,, I know
very modest but W.Uyjkow-and we wft- l eri is. how you reached out to
the entire community. There wasn't a person that didn't know Minnie Persoff
at that time.
P: That is true, In fact its kind of hard now with so many people around that I
don't know-th-.e Ant-T feelt- ike,,,
B; ieeyouAlost many friends through the years.
P: Yes quite a few. After all you didn't ask me my age0
B: Oh, I didn't, How old are you Minnie?
P: Im seventy-six nowo
B: Well that's no reason to lose friends,
P: NolP weL44- ose them in the way that is inevitable)
"-P-And uof cu rse having to m-ov-6e"df oyntonrF-T==
B.L i Tell l at is the feeling- r, after being so active in a community and
raising the children) ad suddenly they have left the nest and have left you
and Aly alone
P: A lonely feeling-0 tV~t wasn't so lonely for me because I worked) s:
weed all the time We I worked on Worth Ave
P: and then at the Royal Poinciana Plaza.I worked until we moved to Boynton
when we got into the condominiums
B: -What--your-feee1-n-gT How do you feel about the changes from the time that
you moved to W. Palm Beach and what you see today?
P: Like Rip Van Winkl bseieou feel as if you've been asleeIp ad, you
suddenly woke up and it's another worldcI completely new world because
everything grew up around you. IF isn't because weweren't aware. Of
course we were aware and suddenly you look out and you see so many houses and
condominium s all around you and so many people, Were fore-it- we4Ck4
f&a-kf a w not too many people.
B; It was a sleepy, nice, genteel town,
p: And the greatest part of Xkax all this is that thejewish people are so
prominent now, You see them all around. If those people in Delray a long,
long time ago in the 30's knew nothing aboutejews they sure do now. Their
children know about the ewish people, p that is a good thing, Most of the
things the ewish people do are good things, You hear about the elderly
ewish people in Century Village and all the other condominiums. They do so
much for the xK underprivileged. They work with them, So I Lh1uk teh- jwih-
B: Where were your children settled now Minnie.
P: We@4-the oldest and the youngest are practicing in ColoadQ Denver The
middle boy)Myron)is in Boca Raton,
? o0r? Sop
B: & at least you have one son here and two grandchildren, And JAhas become a
well known plastic surgeon, How do you feel about yourself Minnie, Do you
miss 49e WAA Palm Beach and the activity.
P: Of course I do, There are times that I cry a great deal because these are
the changes that you have to accept, and you can't do the things that you did
earlier, I was always able to take people around and bring people to the
meetings and take the children to Hebrew School and wherever I had to gyfor--
"a-dctFre r en I was membership chairman, I traveled all over to get members.
But I cant do that anymore I'm confined in a sense t really confined.
I drive, but I don't go to different areas. And I don't go to the places
that I' used to go. -aL its not good to look back -But you find yourself
sometimes looking back and hoping but it can't be so you just accept) Thats
B:; Min4e,, when you warp-on Clematis Street and-when-yet look at' r,now, have-
--you-beeLnonClematis-Street late-l .-- .-
CB t-t-f--i-s--ch e s-am eE-emClmt-irs- hr t" T 'Tna?--;
P: *1E Clematis Street hasn't improved much at all. In fact the same buildings
are still there. Its just that/Some of the placesY there i- a few new
building S ,e",
B; Y- I -frgot to as natrwhen----kneow-iyou feel,- u at is your
feeling about Israel, -1- '-- l was declared a State/
S\ id you work for Israel l'and-wat-we-your....
Pffh that was the time I had a neighbor, Baptist that lived across the street.
from me, and she was very active in her churclJred-I had taken some clothes
home to sew, I've forgotten the name of the women that did the cutting, one
of the ewish woman a Haddassah member cut out the dresses) But you know it
was just like cutting out a dolls dress) There's nothing pretty on it, the
sleeves, the neck,, I stitched together and sent it off, They gave me some
dresses, and I knew that I' would never be able to sew it, I didn't have a
machine, 4 I went to my neighbor across the street who was ar'B e r very
ardent Baptist and ske-saLdt, :kxstx$ xm I said to her "Sew these
for me and I'll do your housework I &o she looked at the dresses and se-said
"You don't have to do my housework, we sew for the people of the world why not
for Israel?II And I said "Why not> i/aML that's how it started -Shi t ilTlh
,E/ G flt% us to the WMU, the Women's Missionary Union and it really became a wonderful
project because the women were very happy to sew. But of course later on I
found out that there was a reason, They were very wonderful people and they
wanted to do it. They would work for any child, They were really very good
women, but their motive was of course to convert. That came to me quite
unexpectedly when we had a party for them. One of the woman had a tupperware
party and I let her have it in my house so that it would help the church. When
they left,I found some books on conversion and the whole story about the Baptist
movement and all that1 I still didn't understand why it was left there. I
just simply though that she had forgotten them. But Al said "Oh no, they are
trying to convert you ll d A-04lat n m...a. e idl ".fea-iLysa
f.s.t th -tn.ee women did sew aboutA- think-4 beut 75 dresses They put
rid-rac on it, buttons, They did a beautiful job. It was no longer a dolls
dress it was really a dress. They.put their hearts ifpo it, When th-ey-ae-
when they had this party I hung the dresses up on a line so that they could
see the fruits of their labor, As Jkdc/saidythey left books thereVand that)f
.s when I found out what the reason behind it But even to this day I know that
they would have done it anyhow. Its just that they felt it would be a good
time to. I 0
B: Well that's their mission in life)
P: Absolutely, I wasn't angry at them at all. But during that time,we made the
newspaper cause t a called- in She called me up and said "Is it true
that Phere was a WMU meeting in your house and that the women of the WMU sewed
for the children of Israel"? I said, "It certainly is truo6/ She said "Its
hard to believe' f I said "Why is it so hard to believe ? She said I 's a
first in WeAalm Beach and I'm very happy about iteS
B: ZE you felt that you had a purpose and they had a purpose. Yes and we remained
le- friends of course, But it shocked me for while because I only thought of one
thing, that Israel had become a State and we were sewing for the children of
Israel, The immigrants who came in, and they were going to help us, That was
(1 0I I PZ, A-S
all. But there was a woman who lived in Delray that had a G-mHoJf farsQ --
I told her about these women and would she give me flowers for their pulpit)
She was wonderful0 She gave me the nicest gladiola, They were more like
orchids and we kept the pulpit for many, many months In fact for a year
she continued to send the flowers
B: Well) that was a fair return for the dresses that they made,
P: But we did other things toO)
B; In other words d.i-d would you say the jewish women met with the Christian
P: Oh yes they were very happy)( 04-eve.
B: Did you try to bring about a better understanding between Christian and Jew?
P: Of course. @Of.-se when youiRa Baptist and your very strong about that %7
you can think of nothing else, no more than I can think of anything else if
Itm a Jew) Nobody is going to change my mind
B: Getting back to social thingswhen someone had a Bar Mitzyah or a wedding or
whatever was the community invited? Is it a community affair?
P; NCo^--^,^ Y<^^f~h~f~kiwxj-4rr^--in~l l-&ma-l4--tnsn- -'
S-- d t43n"5-
1-.. fhe haves and the have not)Orh-yefar-a But that's, a natural thing,
You have your friends and they have their friends and that's okay. Nothing
wrong with that,
B: Minnie, I know how active you were with the B'nai B'rith and Haddassah. Did
you belong to any other kind of group, any, nonewish groups? --R I think
you mentioned rYe_ e DT o
P: APTA yes, but I don't know of any other groups that I belonged togr-e4ly At
that time I really couldn't belong. No, I don't think I belonged to anything
B: You were pretty busy with thejewish groups ek ly-to do anything more other
B; Is there anything else that you would like to tell us:iabout your life-in
P; Well my life isn't the important thinKg- what happened here, you know, the4c
ks the important thing) 4-9ll in __,=i.. l ifeAwas just like any community.
You had your gentile friends and you had your wish friends I
That was where I belonged, I was active all ovey and if I was with my husband
"k'l(was introduced as Minnie's husband which didn't please 'ne very much, but I
was the active one, and loved every moment of it To, -e .s... retH--I" knew_
B: Is there ,something else that you would like to tell us before we end this
..-: ,-F,.-S l i~g-.- i dc ient, _RT"4 ho .t.fe hle.rth-SStr- om-rii h e--.
P: -4s lhen wecame tam Rabbi Freilich was our Rabbi and he was a rabbi from
the concentration camp:)
B: He was one of the survivors?
P; Yes, one of the survivors, with his wife, a delightful couple and they had two
lovely children) He had hoped to come here and have a.quiet life -Since thek-
life was so hectic, It was very very bacd He had met his wife in the
concentration camp. Heaohd hoped to come down here and stayere, Se of
the members .--..-e o e just didn't think that.he was the man for Temple
Beth Shalom. They wanted a more sophisticated individual/ %breAmericanized.
But -r those of us in We Palm and in Lake Worth that remember Rabbi Freilich,
t4oe will remember him as the most honest rabbi,---.,.
s:.no a-- =bbi, of course at that timeaI cost $10,000,00which was a lot of
moneyQ NI 4t said "TSas once a rabbi earns $10,000,-@a year he can no
longer function as a rabbit_
B: Ago longer spiritual0
P: Right, TFha-S e. because he has to bow to the commands of the board, He has
to be sa very social; He-ksha do things st he doesn't believe inf) He
would never do that, he would.never compromise his.beliefs, I thought a great
deal of him /9.oved him very muchyXloved the family very much, But unfortunately
he could not stay, Bat I remember about the time when he was Xbh there/, wa-
the Passover Seders that we had. We had glass dishes and he stayed with us
and we koshered the dishes and flatwear. We had so much fun, It was just so
wonderful, I brought everyone together and all the women that had any skills
in cooking were there. We worked like in a restaurant, We had recipes pinned
up on the wall,
B: '' 'a- -': add w many people did you have attend the
P: You know .1at we were a very small Temple. Now they have grown,/hut at that
time it was just ofte-b- ing, no4- e- two buildings. because we already
had the recreation hallO We had to put tables in the recreation hall/and in
the temple proper an then we didn't have enough room, We had 225 people,
Showing the need in the community0 The people really want to go to a templqp
And there were many people that were alone and wanted to go to a temple to
have their seder. And here was strictly a dedicated rabbir