A Homeland in the West
Utah Jews Remember
Eileen Hallet Stone
"Even my Dad had a hard time finding a place when he and my mother were first married...Momma was pregnant with Berenice, and he went to a woman who had a house. He asked if they could rent a place. She said, no, she couldn’t rent to Jews. Dad said, 'Well, now I know why Jesus was born in a manger.'"
—Ruth Matz McCrimmon, A Homeland in the West
Rather than a history of Utah Jews, this is a book of Utah Jewish histories. A Homeland in the West collects the stories and the voices of men and women drawn west by choice or by chance, people who made their way and earned their living in a culture often alien, occasionally hostile, sometimes welcoming. These are the stories of immigrants and explorers, artists and merchants, senators and soldiers.
Culled from countless hours of oral histories comprising more than ninety current and archived interviews, Eileen Hallet Stone has gathered reminiscences that tell a tale of life in Utah from a seldom-heard perspective. These singular threads—supplemented with stirring photographs, traditional recipes, and a Yiddish glossary—weave a rich and varied tapestry of Utah’s enduring Jewish heritage.
Every page is a testament to the individuals who help create the state’s collective history. Meet:
• Solomon Nunes Carvalho, who was invited by Colonel John C. Frémont to join his final, near-fatal expedition across the Rocky Mountains in search of a viable route for the country’s first transcontinental railroad.
• The Auerbach brothers, who opened their first store in Salt Lake City in 1864 and who, by 1883 saw it become a mercantile enterprise worth half a million dollars in sales and real estate.
• Simon Bamberger, who was elected governor in 1916—the first Democrat, first non-Mormon, and only Jew to hold the office.
• Anna Rich Marks who made a fortune in real estate and mining and who at one point held the representatives of the Denver and Rio Grand Railroad at gunpoint—demanding they pay her price to cross her land.
• Joel Shapiro, who, as a soldier during World War II, found himself in the detachment from his unit assigned to join the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp.
With their own voices, in their own words, A Homeland in the West speaks to the dichotomy of living as 'gentiles' in Mormon 'Zion,' testifying to the ways in which memory and tradition, lifestyles and legacies layer together to form the whole of a person, the whole of a community.
Eileen Hallet Stone is a Utah-based journalist and current editor of the Graphic Arts Journal.
Table of Contents:
A Brief History of Jews in the West: Early Jews of the West
1. A Wandering Jew on the Thirty-eighth Parallel: Solomon Nunes Cavalho
2. European Jewry: An Overview, by Peter Black
3. Early Jewish Utah Pioneers
"Fannie, Let Us Take Our Few Dollars and Go West": Julius and Fannie Brooks
Gentile Pioneer Merchants: Samuel H. Auerbach
From Tie Camp to Political Ties: Simon Bamberger
"Anna Got Her Gun": Anna Rich Marks
A Newhouse Monogram: Samuel Newhouse
A Pioneer in Underground Mining Machinery: Joseph Rosenblatt
4. Turn-of-the-Century Arrivals
For Love of Yiddish: Abe B. Cline
Collateral: Character, Faith and Whatnot: Simon Frank
Naches in Nephi: Eva Siegel
With the Encouragement of Strangers: Sol J. Selvin
Keeping Kosher in Vernal: Claire Steres Bernstein
Born of Immigrant Parents: Abe Bernstein
Red-Hot Coals: Esther Klein
The Traveling Salesman: Simon Shapiro
5. Minyan in a Railroad Town
An Ogden Native: Ralph Benowitz
Farm Life and the Jewish Daily Forward: Doris Neiditch
6. Back to the Land
A Brief View of Clarion, by Robert Alan Goldberg
The Agricultural Colony Clarion: A Retrospective, by Several Clarion Colonists
Before the Talkies: Howard Marcus
Radio Days: Sid Fox
The Newsies, by Richard McGillis: Charlie McGillis
Judaism, Politics, PR, and War: A. Wally Sandack
8. Shochets and Cattle Dealers
Schmaltz for the Holidays: Harry J. Doctorman
"The Bumper," by Paula Block Draper: Paul Weinstein Block
9. Knishes and Kashrut
Devotion to Tradition: Ed Eisen
Cheverta Kiddish, an Honor: Sade Tannenbaum
Everyone's Going Meshugge in the Kitchen: Jean Eisen
A Boat to America: Abe Guss
Goyisheh Potatoes and Kosher Homes: Rose Guss Nord
It's in the Bag: I.J. Wagner
Wolfes in the West: Michael Wolfe
Sweet Tooth: Tony Sweet
10. Standing Up to Bigotry
Ragtown: Sidney Matz
Peddler in the Storm: Ruth Matz McCrimmon
A Minority Child: Berenice Matz Engelberg
"The Jewish Kid": Eugene Levetan
Merchants, Mavins, Military, and Mergers: Ralph Tannenbaum
"The Americans Are Here!": Harry Miller
Escape from Kristallnacht: Minna Margaret Loser Praijs and John Price
"I Had on Working Clothes and a Coat, That's All": Isaac Rose
Forced Labor, Lost Youth: Michael Schafir
Revisioning the Holocaust: Hilda Parker
Liberating Dachau, a Soldier's Observations: Joel Shapiro
Stalag 19: Dr. Ernst Beier
Worldly Experiences: Joanne Spitzer McGillis
The CCC Camp: Anne Dolowitz
"Busy as a Bird Dog": Esther Rosenblatt Landa
The Mount Sinai Poker, Canasta, and S****** Club, by Carol Landa
Soviet in Salt Lake: Alla Branzburg
Frontier Jews: Harris Lenowitz
Appendix A: The Memories Are Many, the Stores Now Few
A Partial List of Jewish-Owned Businesses in Utah, Pre- and Post-World War II
Appendix B: Traditional Jewish Foods
Compiled by Donna Barnow Blandrin
Appendix C: Yiddish Glossary, Hebrew Terms, and Some Expressions
Praise and Reviews:
"Represents a sound contribution specifically to the history of Jews in Utah, but also to a deeper understanding of ethnic and cultural diversity in the state."
—Philip F. Notarianni, Utah State Historical Society
"A fresh and most welcome addition to Utah history."
—Helen Papanikolas, author of The Time of the Little Black Bird