Interviewee: Aura Ahuvia
Interviewer: Larry Boocker
Interview Date: January 30, 2018
Location: Troy, MI
Interview No.: 12.30.18-AA (audio digital file)
(Approximate total length: 56 minutes)
Themes: Jewish Identity, Doctrine, Holocaust, Jewish Gentile Relations, Observance, Upbringing
Summary: Rabbi Aura Ahuvia discusses the historical meaning of a rabbi and the multiple roles of a rabbi as a teacher and interpreter of Judaism and as a helper for the needs of the congregants. In 1938, Her father’s family fled Vienna by train to Italy and then took a boat to Palestine. Both her parents told her and her brothers to keep their Judaism secret. Interviewer Larry Boocker questions her about the Rabbi’s role in determining Jewish education, involvement in the business of the synagogue, and as the representative of Judaism to the inter-faith community.
Example of proper citation/attribution:
Boocker, L. (Interviewer) & Ahuvia, A. (Interviewee). (2018). Aura Ahuvia: Jewish Journeys[Interview Index]. Retrieved from Jewish Journeys Oral History Collection of Congregation Shir Tikvah: https://shirtikvah.org/cstoralhistoryarchive
Note: Counter index corresponds to track times when loaded into iTunes.
00:00 Roles of a rabbi and limitations
07:47 Decide to become Rabbi later in life; Started attending more religious education opportunities, Started Reconstructionist Chaverah:Wanted knowledge of Judaism
10:40 Motivated by new way to make Judaism relevant. Excited by new ways to use music and wanted intellectual basis. Interest in ancient rabbis. Master’s thesis on modern rabbis and being adult Jews
15:00 Relationship with husband, Aaron, allowed expression of concerns about Judaism and alternate views.
High school joined youth group and learned the music; agreement about Jewish practice. In Ann Arbor, questioned joining a synagogue, but did with influence from in-laws.
20:00 Remote rabbinical study. Was alienated as early adult from Judaism
21:30 Grew up in Milwaukee. Family did not go to services often, mother second generation American, came from Poland, anti-Semitism: kids would spit on her because Jewish. Not kosher but no pork or seafood. Mother: keep your Jewish identity secret.
24:00 Dad: First generation American, Vienna—traumatized, remembered Kristallnacht, arrested as shop owner, family escaped because of SS officer warning about arrest; warned because when he was a boy food was given to his starving family by her father’s father; Family left immediately by train to Italy; Housekeeper reported that officers did come to arrest him, Could not stop train
27:00 Other relatives did not leave soon enough, they died in Auschwitz;Family left for Palestine from Italy. Had relatives who were Zionist and came to Palestine on dilapidated boat. Dad grew up in Palestine in 1938 and served in thePalmach when 18 yrs.
32:00 Father remained in Israel until 1950’a.when came to get post doctorate at Univ of Pa, then to a job in Milwaukee. Never comfortable talking about his war experiences. Father did not come from religious family, saw himself as a Zionist. Wanted to be buried with a mezuzah that he carried around secretly. Keep jewish identity secret
35:00 Had two younger brothers; Told to keep Jewish secret, but did not and did not have experiences of anti-Semitism. Had religious education at conservative synagogue.
38:20 Her love for learning; wanted to take class with Rabbi; wanted to be a better teacher than what she had in religious school. Impact on religious school in Ann Arbor
40:20 Shir Tikvah educational program; Diverse Jewish backgrounds
45:00 Talmud: different ways to be Jewish (music, fun, stories); Involvement in management of synagogue business—must remain Rabbi to everyone.
48:30 Can use Talmud and Jewish wisdom to guide how we act today.
50:08 Rabbi as representative of Judaism
53:40 Speaks on core values of Judaism.