Olga Garfinkel Weinstein, born in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1917, describes her childhood, including her siblings, the Jewish Community Center, and the traditional Jewish foods her mother served. Olga experienced no anti-Semitism as a schoolgirl, but discusses her awareness, as a young woman during World War II, of what was happening to the Jews in Europe.
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Olgas parents, Hannah (Annie) and Sam Garfinkel, distant cousins and teenage immigrants to New York from Divin, a small Russian town near Brest-Litovsk, married in 1913. Soon after, they moved to Charleston, South Carolina, where Sam and his brother opened a mattress factory. For fifty years, Louisa, an African-American woman, nursed the Garfinkel children, and cleaned and cooked for the family, adhering to the strict kosher rules of the house. Olga describes her parents and siblings, the schools she attended, the traditional Jewish foods the family enjoyed, and how her mother prepared chickens for cooking. Other topics relating to her years growing up in Charleston include the neighborhoods where they lived, the Jewish Community Center on George Street, the absence of anti-Semitism, and the Orthodox synagogues Brith Sholom and Beth Israel. Olga served as treasurer for Junior Hadassah. After graduating from high school, she worked in a clothing store on King Street. In 1939, she visited New York and, two years later, married Sam Weinstein. Olga also discusses her awareness, during World War II, of what was happening to the Jews in Europe. See also interviews with other members of the Garfinkel family: Helen Rosenshein, Philip Garfinkel, Sandra Shapiro, Nathan and Frances Garfinkle (Nathan spells the family name differently), Max and Jennie Garfinkel and Alex Garfinkel.