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Object of the Month: May 2013 0 Comment(s)

Left to right: Elaine Klawans & Morton Funger; Margie Blanken & Robert Funger; Phyllis Lidoff & Sonny Feldman; Lillian Witt and unknown.

Object No:
2010.27.1
Donor: Elaine Salen-Stouck
Description: Teens around a table at Upsilon Lambda Phi fraternity party, Hotel Hamilton's Rainbow Room, c. 1950s.
 
Background: Today's Jewish youth may find it difficult to believe that their grandparents were not welcome in clubs and social activities a half century ago. Excluded from the sororities, fraternities, and clubs of their non-Jewish classmates, Jewish teenagers created their own social sphere blending their Jewish identity with secular activities. 
 
The social lives of Washington's Jewish teenagers revolved around more than 60 fraternities, sororities, clubs, and Zionist youth groups from the 1920s through the 1960s. These organizations provided settings where teens could mingle and forge an American identity. Jewish teens canoed on the Potomac, danced in Glen Echo's pavilion, and organized Purim Balls at the Jewish Community Center

Opening ball of four-day conclave of Pi Tau Pi fraternity, Mayflower Hotel, December 27, 1926. 

JHSGW Collections, gift of Albert H. Small

High school fraternity and sorority life was filled with meetings, activities, and lavish dances, often held at the city's most elegant hotels. National conventions and conclaves gave local Jewish teens a chance to travel to cities like Albany, New Orleans, and Philadelphia. Here in Washington, more than 150 local delegates of Pi Tau Pi attended their fraternity's 1926 annual convention at the Mayflower Hotel (seen here).
 
The involvement of the teens in these social groups often served as the recipe for future community leadership. The Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington's exhibition, Members of the Club: Washington Jewish Teen Life, 1920s-1960s (watch accompanying video!), captured memories collected from community members about their teenage experiences. "There was something that touched us that was more than just the fun and dances… somehow we were intellectually and emotionally stirred, and for some of us it has been an intoxication throughout our lives," reflected Tamara Bernstein Handelsman, a member of Phi Delta. She has since been a member of the boards of many local Jewish organizations.
 
When the war came in December 1941, teen activities changed rapidly. Jewish youth pitched in, shifting their focus from dances and picnics to war bond drives and Red Cross work. In the post-war era, young baby boomers used their social events to promote and raise money for special causes. Mu Sigma cosponsored the Teddy Bear Hop, where all in attendance brought toys for Children's Hospital and Junior Village.

Flyer for AZA's annual
Yom Kippur dance, 1939.
 

JHSGW Collections, gift of Sol Lynn.

Signature events included Sigma Alpha Rho's Cherry Blossom Ball at the Shoreham Hotel and Sigma Kappa Sigma's Festival of Roses at the Hebrew Academy. Starting in 1933, Alpha Zadik Alpha (AZA) sponsored an annual post-Yom Kippur Dance that was the highlight of the social season for many Jewish teens. "Take it from me: you had to have a date, and the right date, at least two months ahead of time," recalled Gershon Fishbein (z'l) about his AZA days.

These shared experiences often led to lasting relationships. Sandy Levy Kouzel played bridge weekly for over 20 years with sorority sisters and Milton and Lois Kessler met at a dance and married six years later.

Alumni Luncheon, Kappa Sigma chapter of Phi Delta Sorority, Mayflower Hotel's Chinese Room, April 3, 1948.

JHSGW Collections, gift of Margot Heckman.

menu from a Pi Tau Pi fraternity dinner dance in 1954 details a meal of cold turkey, stuffed celery, pickles, and melon fantasy for dessert. This selection is distinctly different from the salad, pasta, grilled chicken, and chocolate cake served at today's formal banquets and dances.
 
Many parents supported membership in teen groups as a way to build strong communal relationships in an increasingly assimilated Jewish Washington. These connections provided an enduring legacy: a sense of belonging, lifelong friendships, and preparation for community leadership.
 
This year, in conjunction with the Jewish Food Experience, our Objects of the Month feature DC's rich Jewish food history. For stories about this history and the latest on the local Jewish food scene – recipes, restaurants, chefs, events, and volunteer opportunities – visit jewishfoodexperience.com.

Making history with Giant Food 0 Comment(s)

Laura Apelbaum, JHSGW Executive Director, holding the GIANT check with John Hicks and Charlton Clarke of Giant Food. In the background are D.C. City Councilmember Tommy Wells and Giant Food President Anthony Hucker.

Courtesy of Giant Food

Last week JHSGW staff attended the grand opening of Washington’s newest corner grocery store – the H Street NE Giant Food.  As you can see, we were thrilled to receive a generous $2,500 contribution from Giant in appreciation for our work preserving Giant Food’s historical archives and photographs. With support from the Naomi & Nehemiah Cohen Foundation, JHSGW archivists spent five years cataloging Giant Food’s historical documents and photographs and conducting oral histories to help preserve Giant’s remarkable legacy in our community.

For a sneak peek into the Giant Food archives, check out this slideshow of historic Giant photos and a short film featuring memories of Giant Food and its founders, Samuel Lehrman and Nehemiah Cohen, from interviews with community leaders, former employees of Giant Food, family, and friends.

Recognize the big G? Most of these iconic Giant  store signs have been replaced in recent years so we were especially delighted to receive this sign last month when the Queenstown Giant in Hyattsville, Maryland closed. Opened in 1954 on Queens Chapel Road, the store achieved a brief moment of fame in 1957 when Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip stopped in for a brief tour of the store after visiting the University of Maryland.

We plan to make the GIANT sign a centerpiece of our new museum in the future - but in the meantime our costs to preserve and store the sign will come to $12,000 over the next five years. Won't you help us support the care and preservation of this GIANT piece of history? Donate to the Giant Food Sign Preservation Fund.

Object of the Month: April 2013 0 Comment(s)

Object No.: 1998.24.4
Donor: Ann Hofberg Richards
Description: Hofberg's menu, yellow and maroon printed cardboard, c.1950s

Background: Does this menu bring you back to a time when a corned-beef sandwich cost 35 cents? Many Washingtonians' have early memories of Hofberg's, located on the District line. Shepherd Elementary and Beth Sholom Sunday School students visited after class was over. When these young patrons became teenagers, they returned to Hofberg's, a great date place where all enjoyed the famous sandwiches, hot dogs, and pickles.

Some 40 years before opening his deli on Eastern Avenue, Abe Hofberg was born in Argentina, where his Eastern European parents had lived since they were children. Dora and Solomon Hofberg brought their family to Washington in the early 1920s. Abe and his siblings attended Roosevelt High School while their parents, like so many Jewish immigrants, ran a grocery store at 20th & E Streets, NW.

When Abe launched his first deli at 116 Kennedy Street, NW (seen left) in 1928, the family lived four blocks away at 710 Longfellow Street, NW. His parents opened the doors every day at 6 a.m., and took over the counter while Abe served his country during World War II.

Shortly after Abe's return home, he sold the business on Kennedy Street, but quickly picked up where he had left off. In 1948, he opened a new Hofberg's where Eastern, Alaska, and Georgia Avenues meet on the border between Washington and Silver Spring. The sandwich shop became an popular hang-out for area teens to grab a heaping sandwich and a dish of ice cream.

Over the years, Hofberg's added catering service, room service for a neighborhood motel, and The Penthouse, a dining room upstairs from the deli. A 1957 advertisement for the Penthouse's grand opening boasted the establishment would be "America's most lavish and hospitable kosher restaurant outside of New York."

When the ownership changed in 1969, Hofberg's spread into Montgomery County, but the suburban locations were never as popular as their D.C. predecessors. Ten years after Abe Hofberg retired, the Eastern Avenue deli was praised in The Washington Post: "In the case of Hofberg's…everybody comes out a winner." Regretfully, after decades of serving as a meet-and-eat spot, the shop closed in the early 1980s, followed by the Maryland locations in the next few decades. While Hofberg's is now part of Washington's history, many native Washingtonians fondly remember its renowned deli fare.

Do you have material documenting a local deli or restaurant that you'd like to donate to the Jewish Historical Society's collection? Please contact us at info@jhsgw.org or (202) 789-0900.


This year, in conjunction with the Jewish Food Experience, our Objects of the Month feature DC's rich Jewish food history. For stories about this history and the latest on the local Jewish food scene – recipes, restaurants, chefs, events, and volunteer opportunities – visit jewishfoodexperience.com.

Object of the Month: January 2013 0 Comment(s)

Description: Photograph of Louis and Frayda Klivitsky outside their store, 1702 Seventh Street, NW. An "EAT MORNING STAR BREAD" advertisement is across the top of the display window, 1918

Background: The Klivitzkys left Russia for Baltimore in the first years of the 20th century. They moved to Washington, D.C., and ran a grocery and kosher butcher shop on Seventh Street, NW, for decades. The business was one of many that carried Morning Star bread.

The owners of Morning Star Bakery, like the Klivitzkys, were European immigrants who first lived in Baltimore and then relocated to Washington. After operating a few small bakeries in different parts of the city, they settled on 4-½ Street, SW, one of D.C.'s Jewish neighborhoods. The Morgensteins' bakery and retail shop took up the first floor of the building at 613 4-½ Street and the family lived upstairs.

The bakery's name, Morning Star, held special meaning. When Harry's oldest brother arrived in Baltimore from Austria, the Immigration official mistook the penultimate letter of the family name, Morgenstern, which means "morning star", changing the family name to Morgenstein. All Morgenstern brothers who followed to the United States took on the new name.

In 1924, the Morgensteins expanded and renovated the bakery. Then, under rabbinical supervision, Morning Star began using an oven for Passover cakes and macaroons. The Jewish community previously had to import Passover foods from Baltimore and New York.

Much of the bread used by the Jewish Foster Home in Georgetown and the Hebrew Home for the Aged, then on Spring Road, NW, was donated by Morning Star. During the Depression, the bakery contributed much of its sliced white bread to food lines and various institutions throughout the city.

By 1934 when the Morgensteins sold the bakery, the business included several trucks delivering bakery goods to many Jewish butcher shops, delicatessens, grocery stores, and even private homes.

Do you have materials you would like to donate to the archives that document a local Jewish-owned business? Please contact us at info@jhsgw.org or (202) 789-0900.

This year, in conjunction with the Jewish Food Experience, our Objects of the Month feature DC’s rich Jewish food history. For stories about this history and the latest on the local Jewish food scene – recipes, restaurants, chefs, events, and volunteer opportunities – visit jewishfoodexperience.com.

Object of the Month: June 2012 0 Comment(s)

Object No.: 1999.36.1
Donor: Milton Weinstein
Description: Two-part green metal sign (28" x 116") with orange letters reading District Grocery Store, 1920s

Background:  This sign hung over Harry's Market in Mt. Rainier, Maryland for more than 70 years. Leah and Harry Weinstein bought the market in 1924 and became members of District Grocery Stores (DGS), a cooperative. DGS was formed in 1921 by a dozen Jewish grocers, providing cooperative buying power and a means to fight discrimination from non-Jewish wholesalers.

Through out its 72 years, Harry's Market supplied the neighborhood with groceries, beer and wine, diapers, school supplies, candy and other small necessitates. When Harry and Leah got older and could no longer run the store, daughters Vivian and Ruth (seen here), took over until closing in 1996.

The legacy of DGS lives on in the upcoming DGS Delicatessen, scheduled to open this summer at 1317 Connecticut Avenue, NW, just south of Dupont Circle.

Do you have material documenting a local Jewish-owned business that you'd like to donate to the Jewish Historical Society’s collection?  Please contact us at info@jhsgw.org or (202) 789-0900.