Good afternoon. My name is Naomi Schottenstein. I’m the interviewer. This afternoon we’re here to interview Cheri Papier. We’re at my residence at 2200 Welcome Place, Apartment 310, which is Creekside at the Village and it is April 4, 2011. Cheri, I’m going to start with asking you, well I’m going to set a theme for the program this afternoon and I know that you’re quite versatile and you have a lot of gifts that you share with the community, one of which that I think comes right from the top is your music presentations and I’m going to let you talk about all these as we go along and you teach something called Reiki . . .
Interviewer: Reiki and it’s a type of energy balancing and also you teach a class on staying healthy naturally. And I’m sure we can think of a few more things as we go along but that’s a start. Let’s start with you giving us your full name.
Papier: Okay, my full name is Cheri Maia Papier.
Interviewer: Let me have you spell those words.
Papier: Cheri, C-H-E-R-I, Maia, M-A-I-A, Papier, P-A-P-I-E-R.
Interviewer: That’s great. Do you have a Jewish name?
Papier: No, not that I’m aware of.
Interviewer: Maia almost sounds like one but . . .
Papier: I believe I was named after my maternal grandmother whose Russian Jewish name was Maisha and so I was kind of Cheri Maia, turned around.
Interviewer: Uh huh. Well that sounds logical and you were named after somebody.
Interviewer: Can you trace your family back very far in history? We’ll talk more about that as we go along too, but just off the top of your head.
Papier: Sure, well of course my parents were Rose and Bill Papier. My dad passed away in 2003 at the age of 93 and my mother Rose passed away in 2000. My paternal grandfather’s name was Jacob Papier and his wife’s name was Blanche Papier. My maternal grandfather’s name was Harry Locumovitz and his wife’s name was Maisha Locumovitz.
Interviewer: Uh huh. Can you attempt to spell the last name?
Papier: I believe it was L-O-C-U-M-O-V-I-T-Z.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Papier: And they later changed it to the more abbreviated version, Locum, L-O-C-U-M.
Interviewer: That fits, yeah. Were they, was your mother born in another country?
Papier: No, both my parents were born in Ohio, my Dad in Columbus and my mother in Wapakoneta.
Interviewer: Oh they’re Ohioans?
Interviewer: Do you remember hearing stories about your mother or father when they were young? Let’s take mother or father and see if you can tell us anything about them.
Papier: Well let’s see. My dad was brought up I believe around 20th or 22nd Street in Columbus and it was a fairly rough neighborhood even at that time, according to stories. I know his brother Dave used to be the story teller of the family. He saw and heard things that were going on in the community that my father apparently didn’t, but he got the more seamier stories going. I think it was quite a high crime area at the time.
Interviewer: Twenty-second Street?
Papier: Twentieth, 22nd. Somewhere around south 20th Street I believe.
Interviewer: I’m particularly interested because we lived on 22nd Street.
Papier: Oh did you? I know we used to go and visit my grandfather and grandmother on South Twenty-second every Sunday afternoon.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Papier: When I was growing up.
Interviewer: But your father didn’t talk about those things very much?
Papier: Not really, no. I think he had his head in the books for the most part.
Interviewer: Yeah. Tell us about your father’s family, siblings.
Papier: Okay. Let’s see, he had several brothers, Harry, David, Abe and a sister Ida. They were his siblings.
Interviewer: Can you tell us anything about their families?
Papier: Okay. Dave Papier was married to Minnie, whose maiden name was “Young”. She died quite a long time ago. He subsequently remarried Ruth Freidenberg. Matter of fact, she lived part of her last years here at Creekside and then, as her health declined, moved over to Heritage House. She passed away about a year ago. Let’s see, I think that Abe had a different mother than my father, so was kind of a step-uncle. His children are Jerry and Bruce Papier and I forgot to mention that Dave’s children are Larry and Steve Papier. Harry Papier lived for many years in Alabama with his wife, Sylvia (maiden name “Grodner”).
I’m trying to think of the connection to Columbus. Ben and Ethel Grodner were Sylvia’s brother and sister-in-law. Their children are Susan Papier and Robert Papier who live in New Orleans. Let’s see, who else? Ida Papier married Bernie Weinberger. Their children’s names are Sandra and Marla and they live in California, Sandra in Los Angeles and her sister Marla, in Redondo Beach.
Interviewer: Are you in touch with some of your cousins?
Papier: Actually I do try to keep in touch with as many as possible. Mostly Larry who recently married a Taiwanese woman, Shu Ping Lin. They currently have a condo in Taipei, Taiwan, as well as here in Columbus. Also with Bruce Papier, who currently retired and lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. And I do occasionally see Larry’s brother Steve (in California) and Susan and Robert in New Orleans.
Interviewer: Those are great places to visit . . .
Papier: Yes they are.
Interviewer: if you haven’t yet.
Papier: Right. Haven’t been to Taiwan yet, but that’s in the stars for the future. I have visited Santa Fe with Larry and Shu Ping a couple of years ago.
Interviewer: Yeah, those are fun places.
Papier: Uh huh.
Interviewer: What about any of the other cousins, any other, do you ever get together here in Columbus?
Papier: Sometimes Steve Papier who lives in, let’s see, he works at Stanford University. Sometimes he visits us in Columbus. I have not been out there to visit him. Sandra Weinberg, I have been out to visit her. She’s been here to visit me, but Jerry Papier, Bruce’s brother in Chicago, I lost contact with him some time ago. I’ve tried to reestablish contact but without much success and Susan and Robert Papier in New Orleans, I have seen them quite a few times in New Orleans as well as Columbus.
Interviewer: Sounds like you may be the historian of the family.
Papier: I think that’s probably true.
Interviewer: Well every family has, hopefully, somebody who’s interested . . .
Interviewer: in keeping some of this together.
Papier: Yes, absolutely.
Interviewer: That’s good and it’s fun, it’s fun when it works.
Interviewer: What about your mother’s family, siblings?
Papier: My mother had a big family. I’ll try to go in order of age. Her oldest sister’s name was Sylvia and then came Esther. Following that was Lena and then my mother Rose. Oh I think Ida was maybe up there, older than my mother. And then there was Florence. And she had one brother, Cecil.
Interviewer: Yes that is a large family.
Interviewer: Okay can you tell us about each one?
Papier: I’ll do the best I can. Sylvia, I never really did know. She passed away before I came around but her two children were Phil Schneider and Janice Berson. And I am still in contact with Janice’s daughter who lives in Cincinnati, Marsha Berson. We’ve been in quite close contact over the last four or five years. Let’s go on to Esther, my Aunt Esther took over the family home in Wapakoneta when everyone moved out. Her two children’s names are Sandy Sawyer who lives in Houston, Texas and Jerry Freeman who lives in Los Angeles. I do keep in pretty close contact with Sandy both by phone and e-mail and have even attended one of her son’s weddings in Houston which was really a lot of fun. My Aunt Ida never got married. She lived most of her life in Phoenix, Arizona. And Cecil lived in Waco, Texas with his wife Ida. They didn’t have children.
Interviewer: Did we establish your mother’s maiden name?
Papier: Yes, it was Locumovitz.
Interviewer: Yeah, that’s right.
Papier: And it was shortened to Locum.
Interviewer: Right, right.
Papier: Let’s see, after Ida there was Lena who lived in Plymouth, Indiana. She was married to Harry Franklin. Their two children’s names are Ed Franklin who’s in California and Myra Franklin (married name “Nathenson”) who is in Phoenix. Unfortunately I’ve lost contact with them both over the last several years but I’m trying to relocate them and get back in contact. After Lena there’s my mother Rose and . . .
Interviewer: How many children in your . . . .
Papier: My brother Jeff unfortunately died of cancer when he was a senior at Bexley High School, just shortly after graduating from Bexley. I was 13 at the time, he was 17 and that of course was a major loss. I did have a 50th year memorial celebration of his life last July at Jeffrey Mansion which also coincided with what would have been his 50th class reunion.
Interviewer: That’s interesting. How did that work out?
Papier: That was very beautiful. A number of people from his class attended and spoke about their friendship with him.
Interviewer: We were talking about your brother’s memorial. I want to hear more about the memorial.
Papier: It was really something that I had been planning for a long time. Actually I had hoped that more relatives would be able to come in, but Larry, who had been in Taiwan at the time, did come back for it which I really appreciated. And Marsha Berson came in from Cincinnati.
Interviewer: What time of the year was it?
Papier: It was a beautiful event in July, held at the Jeffrey Mansion. Rabbi Apothaker, who is my Rabbi from Temple Beth Shalom, conducted the service and I played some music at the time. Following the memorial part, we had dinner and a celebration of life party with dance music from the 50s, the kind of music that my brother enjoyed. “Peggy Sue” was his favorite. We had a really nice, nice time.
Interviewer: Well what a beautiful way to celebrate his memory.
Papier: Yes. I was so happy that so many of his friends were able to attend . . .
Interviewer: And it was good for them too, to touch base, wasn’t it?
Interviewer: And they were probably from many different places.
Papier: Yes. I think everybody really appreciated it and felt that the event was a wonderful way to remember him.
Interviewer: Very satisfying . . .
Papier: It was.
Interviewer: For many people. Good grief. Another accomplishment sharing.
Interviewer: Okay. Let’s continue with your mother’s family.
Papier: Florence lived her entire life in Sidney, Ohio. She had three children, Maury, Helene and Mike. Her last name was Kastner. Her husband’s name was Norman.
Interviewer: How do you spell that?
Papier: Kastner, K-A-S-T-N-E-R. So Sidney is quite a small town with a very small Jewish community.
Interviewer: Do you happen to know what brought them to Sidney?
Papier: It was not too far away from Wapakoneta. That may have been one thing. And I know that some of the family ended up in Lima, Ohio and in Sidney but I think that was just because they were close by.
Interviewer: Do you know what brought your mother’s family to Wapakoneta?
Papier: No I really don’t. I know that her father had originally come from the Soviet Union. I believe she said Minsk was the area that her parents had come from originally. He had a pushcart when he first arrived in Wapakoneta and they were very poor. They had a large family and he always was very confident that they would be able to have a good life. My grandfather sold items from his pushcart and they managed.
Interviewer: When you say pushcart he probably went door-to-door.
Papier: I think so.
Interviewer: It wasn’t terribly unusual.
Interviewer: They did whatever they had to to make a living.
Papier: Yeah that’s true.
Interviewer: Uh huh. And small towns were probably a little easier to settle down in.
Papier: Right. But they had a beautiful home there in Wapakoneta.
Interviewer: Okay, we’re just getting some information about the fire alarm that just went off here at Creekside. The good news is it does work and the bad news is it did interrupt us for a short time but we’re going to continue.
Papier: Okay. I do remember having family reunions in the Wapakoneta home. Such a lovely place. They had a lot of fruit trees and quite a big yard area for all the cousins to play in. We always looked forward to family reunions there because of the food, seeing everybody, and just playing and having a ball. So, I kind of miss that because after my brother died and I was the only child…and my husband (Gene Goldberg) was an only child so we didn’t really have aunts, uncles or first cousins for our sons (Allen and Roger) to get to know.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Papier: But I did try thinking when, well maybe I’m getting ahead of the boat, when my children were born, I did make a point of going to visit my cousins and letting them get to know them and their second cousins from all over the country really. We did make an effort to visit as many as possible.
Interviewer: What a great value to be able to pull pieces of family together. It wasn’t terribly unusual though in that era to have family reunions. That was the main focus of getting together. It wasn’t like going to concerts and . . .
Papier: Right, that’s true.
Interviewer: traveling all over.
Papier: That was so much fun. Of course my mother loved throwing parties and I think I inherited that from her but she just loved getting family and friends together.
Interviewer: Oh and she had a big family so it was fun.
Papier: And we looked forward to those events so much.
Interviewer: And the cooking was all done in the home. No catering. It was real . . .
Papier: Right, that’s true.
Interviewer: right from the heart, from the soul.
Interviewer: We have one more sibling.
Papier: We were talking about my Aunt Florence’s, her older son, Maury, was my brother’s age and he lives in St. Louis, Missouri with his wife Nancy, his second wife. I visited them and they visited me on a number of occasions. Their second child, Helene Kastner, lived for many years in Michigan and then they moved to Florida. Her husband, John Olchevik, unfortunately passed away a few years ago but they have two children who are in Florida, as far as I know, and her daughter has two children as well. Then Cecil, my mother’s brother, always lived in Waco, Texas. I never did get there to visit him but he was always, you know, the only uncle from her side of the family, so we always enjoyed it whenever he came in for a reunion. His wife’s name was Ida.
Interviewer: He was a special person in that family?
Papier: Yes he was. I mean, to have seven sisters and he was the only boy in the family, you know, he had a rough time I’m sure. (Laughter)
Interviewer: You said seven sisters?
Papier: I believe that’s what it was.
Interviewer: I count . . .
Papier: Florence had a twin sister but she apparently died at birth.
Interviewer: Oh okay.
Papier: Yeah, that covers the relatives.
Interviewer: Okay we talked about Wapakoneta. What about your father’s siblings? Oh well we got them, we got that covered, yeah. Did your parents ever tell you, ever talk about how they met?
Papier: They did and this was kind of an interesting story. My father originally met my mother’s sister Lena and at the time my mother had been working in Cleveland in a fur coat company. She was a fur coat modeler. I guess my dad and Lena didn’t hit it off that well, but Lena said, “Well why don’t you go check out my sister Rose in Cleveland,” which he did and he . . .
Interviewer: And that worked?
Papier: He went up there and met her and they hit it off. They decided to get married although my dad had a couple of conditions — that she would go to college and would quit smoking. Those were the two conditions. Which she did.
Interviewer: She did?
Papier: Both of those. And then he told the story, at least he used to tell the story that she would…that people…let’s see, how did it go…would always ask her if Bill was her husband and then later as she got more prominent in the community, they would ask him if Rose was his wife.
Interviewer: Oh the roles changed?
Papier: (Laughter) Right.
Interviewer: Smoking wasn’t terribly unusual at that time. I know if you watch Turner Classic Movies, they’re all smoking . . .
Interviewer: during that time and . . .
Papier: And I know my mom didn’t smoke too much, but it was kind of a fashionable thing to do back then.
Interviewer: Yeah. It sounds like your father was very interested in good education.
Papier: Oh yes.
Interviewer: Yeah. Can you tell us about his education?
Papier: My dad graduated from Central High, first in his class. I have a class picture of him. He played the violin in the orchestra there and apparently he was the first violinist.
Interviewer: There’s your musical talent, huh?
Papier: (Laughs) And he always was a bookworm — as a matter of fact, on the occasion of his 90th birthday, I held a party at Berwick Party House in his honor and I got a letter written by Robert Stafford, who was the Bexley Library Director at the time. Basically the letter stated that my father held the all-time record number of books read per year, averaging about a book every other day since retirement at age 72.
Interviewer: Wow. That’s quite an accomplishment.
Papier: At age 93. So from 72 to 93, yeah.
Interviewer: That’s terrific.
Papier: Yeah he just loved to read.
Interviewer: Has some of that caught on with you too?
Papier: Oh absolutely. I read every day and I know, I don’t read half as much as my dad did but I do read a lot.
Interviewer: It’s a good habit to get into.
Interviewer: Great. Did we talk about your father’s occupation?
Papier: No. After high school he went on to OSU. Of course it was the Great Depression at the time and he had always hoped to become a university professor eventually. He did study economics at OSU. He became a lecturer and did a radio-broadcasting program which I think it was through the OSU economics department. I believe it was a weekly broadcast. Then he got a temporary job with the State of Ohio Bureau of Labor Statistics. I think it was called the Bureau of Unemployment Compensation Later, it was changed to the Bureau of Employment Services. He worked his way up from the bottom through many different administrations and became the Director of Research and Statistics. So he had a very high ranking position in the state government. He worked for 52 years with the state.
Papier: But he never did get to accomplish his goal of becoming a university professor.
Interviewer: It sounds like he did okay.
Papier: Yes he did very well and enjoyed his work very much.
Interviewer: What about his music as the years went on?
Papier: Unfortunately he did not continue with the violin. I think that was kind of sad for him but as things worked out he became busy and that just went by the wayside.
Interviewer: Yes. There is a time and a place for everything.
Papier: But he always enjoyed music, good music.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Papier: Absolutely. My parents always had season tickets to the Columbus Symphony and they always had the radio turned on Sunday mornings to the classical station.
Interviewer: Well you have a great background, that’s for sure. What about your mother? Was she a working lady?
Papier: Of course, that was another one of those conditions that my Dad set for her – to get a good college education. She also attended OSU and got her Master’s Degree in Social Administration. She ended up also working for the State of Ohio in the Department of Mental Health and Retardation. I think they had a subdivision on Aging so she concentrated in the field of aging as a social administrator and was one of the originators of the Golden Buckeye Card concept.
Interviewer: Oh really?
Papier: Yes. And I know that another thing she was proud of was that she helped people who had been housed in state mental institutions who may not really have needed to be there, but in those days there really weren’t any alternatives for them.
Interviewer: I see.
Papier: So she helped organize places where they could stay in the community. Yes, she helped people get out of state mental hospitals and into community-based living arrangements which was so much better for them. They had a much better chance to live a normal life that way.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Papier: And there were people who could help them with services and so on.
Interviewer: Sure. That was a big issue when I first came to Columbus, with people in institutions.
Papier: Of course, before my mother actually got a real job, she was a mover and shaker as a volunteer, especially in the Columbus Jewish community. She worked in just about every capacity with Council of Jewish Women and Hadassah. She really was one of the worker bees in each of those groups as well as, of course, the Columbus Symphony Orchestra and in the political arena, in the League of Women Voters. She was known as a fundraiser. She could raise money for just about any cause. She didn’t care how hard she had to work or who she had to talk to or what bar and grill she had to go into . . .
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Papier: or whatever she had to do to get funds raised. And she was terrific at that.
Interviewer: Well, what an accomplishment. Your parents both were strong, bright people and did a lot for the community and fulfilled their own needs in terms of being volunteers and good citizens. That’s beautiful, beautiful for you.
Papier: Right, they were really good role models.
Interviewer: Oh yes. Talk about where you lived when you were growing up, whatever you can remember.
Papier: Okay. When I was born I lived in an apartment on Studer Avenue. I know that my parents wanted to move into the suburbs so they found a nice home in Bexley. We moved there in 1950 when I was three years old. They bought the home which had been built in 1939. I think they were the second owners of that home, an all-stone home. And interestingly, my husband and I are just about ready to move back into that house.
Interviewer: Oh that’s exciting, isn’t it?
Papier: Yes, we had it totally renovated and it is absolutely gorgeous. It’s on South Remington not far from Livingston Avenue.
Interviewer: What address?
Papier: 1023 South Remington. And we’re planning to have a big open house to correspond with my 65th and my husband’s 70th birthday coming up the end of August and the first of September.
Interviewer: You’re a party girl too?
Papier: Yes definitely! I love having events like that so we’re planning to show off the house at that time.
Interviewer: Good. So you have a goal for your, for moving-renovation.
Papier: Yes. The renovation has been completed so we have to move in and get rid of a lot of junk.
Interviewer: Yeah. The house you’re in now, is it larger?
Papier: We are in an apartment complex, Bexley Village Apartments, which we have been in for 24 years, ever since my husband Gene and I moved to Columbus after having lived in Israel for 15 years. We will be moving into the house very shortly.
Interviewer: So you’re moving out of an apartment into a house?
Papier: And everybody else my age is doing the opposite!
Interviewer: That’s okay, you set your own path.
Papier: Ornery. Yes!
Interviewer: But how nice that you’re going back to the house that you grew up in.
Papier: Yes, it’s nice, but a little bit strange. It’s kind of moving backwards in time, going through a time tunnel. But I’m quite sure it will be a good move. Some of the neighbors knew my parents . . .
Papier: . . . and even were there when I was growing up. But we have a lot of new, young neighbors with kids and I know it’s going to be a lot of fun.
Papier: They’re party people too and they love having holiday events on the street.
Interviewer: That’s cool, that’s cool. Yeah. There is a lot of closeness in Bexley.
Interviewer: Uh huh. Let’s talk about what you were like as a teenager.
Papier: Okay. I was into sports. That was the one and only thing that I loved to do. Table tennis — well we had a table in the basement. My dad taught me how to play when I was five years old. I really took to the game and started getting coaching when I was a little bit older. I used to participate as a teenager in various competitions throughout Ohio, and even beyond, so table tennis was definitely my game. Then when I got to high school, I started competing in regular tennis and was on the varsity team. I also loved field hockey which I had never played before then. I was on the varsity field hockey team there as well. Matter of fact, I think I had more varsity letters than any other female ever at Bexley because they also had, let’s see, basketball, field hockey, tennis, and even a varsity bowling team which they never had before – or since.
Interviewer: ‘Cause bowling’s definitely not in the picture . . .
Papier: No, generally not a varsity game, but we did have that.
Interviewer: I want to touch on this table tennis.
Interviewer: It seems to me if I remember correctly, there were some other young Jewish people who were involved in table tennis and were champion players.
Papier: Right. Of course, Leah Thall . . .
Interviewer: The name Thall sounds familiar to me.
Papier: Yes, Thall was her maiden name. She was more in my dad’s era. She used to be a very well-known table tennis player. I think she was even a national champion at one time. I think her sister also played table tennis and they were doubles champions. As far as other Jewish table tennis players, I’m not sure.
Interviewer: Maybe those are the ones that stand out.
Papier: Right., as a matter of fact, when I lived in Israel, we’ll get to that, I was in one of the Maccabi Games in Israel, representing Israel at the time, and Leah Thall Neuberger, who was a senior by then, came over and participated in that same event.
Interviewer: Oh that’s cool.
Papier: Yes, at the same time. And she was still excellent, probably in her 70s by then.
Interviewer: Well that’s interesting. Okay, from high school where do we go?
Papier: From high school I went to Oberlin College, hopefully to pursue both music and my other so-called dream which was health, you know, I was thinking of maybe going on to medical school so I majored in biology and took pre-med at Oberlin College. I did want to pursue music as well but because I wasn’t in the Conservatory of Music, I wasn’t really allowed to audition for the Oberlin student orchestra because they needed to draw from the Conserva-tory flute majors. So I didn’t realize that until after they had auditioned me and said, “Oh by the way, you realize that being a non-Conservatory student, we really can’t accept you into the orchestra”. So that was a big disappointment. It just got my ire up, so what I did was, I founded the first and only Oberlin College Orchestra made up totally of non-conservatory musicians – over 100 of them!
Interviewer: Really? Well good for you. You used a lot of strength in putting that together.
Papier: I remember that the Dean of the Conservatory called me into his office one day after that and he said, “Tell me, where did you get those violists and violinists from?” because apparently they didn’t have quite enough . . .
Papier: among the conservatory students and he said he was wondering if he could borrow some of them. And I said, “Well I’ll think about it”.
Interviewer: So you were in control then?
Papier: Right! It really made me feel good.
Interviewer: And you won over. That’s terrific.
Interviewer: Very good.
Papier: Yeah. So I did get to do some music while I was at college.
Interviewer: And you made a name for yourself?
Interviewer: at Oberlin at that, a good name.
Papier: I was the rebel with a cause.
Interviewer: But they were not upset about it?
Papier: No, no.
Interviewer: They were probably . . .
Papier: Yeah, yeah. And it gave some of the student conductors a chance to have an orchestra to conduct.
Interviewer: Sure. So did you continue your education at Oberlin?
Papier: No, I got my B.A in biology and pre-med, and from that point on, I thought I’d possibly join the Peace Corps or get some work experience before going on to graduate school. My dad vetoed that idea instantly. He said, “No, it’s better to go and get your schooling. Otherwise you may never get back to it.” So I ended up going to the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, to do a Master’s in Public Health.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Papier: In health education at that stage. So that was a lot of fun and of course, the University of North Carolina was a lot easier than Oberlin College, academically speaking, so it was like . . .
Interviewer: A breeze for you?
Papier: A breeze and it was like party time (laughter). I still got my degree and I enjoyed learning about health education. But after that I thought, ah hah, now I’ll do the Peace Corps. And my dad said, “No, not a good idea”. But what I did find, I met people at the University of North Carolina who had been sort of Peace Corps volunteers in Israel and they had another name for it at the time – Sherut L’am service to your country. So they had done that and suggested doing that. They said that at least I’d have some identity with Israel that may be lacking if I went to an African country or another country. That sounded like a good alternative, so that’s what I did. My cousin Bruce decided to apply for the same program so we went over together as volunteers to Israel. He ended up working for the Israel Aircraft Industries as a designer. He got into graphics over there designing aircraft and I got into health research with the Israeli Cardiovascular Research Program. Of course we both spent three months in a kibbutz learning Hebrew.
Interviewer: You were together in the kibbutz?
Papier: Together, yeah, with a group of youths from America. That was a wonderful experience even though the kibbutz we were on was right on the Lebanese border, not too far from the Syrian border . . .
Interviewer: Which kibbutz?
Papier: It was Maayan Baruch (Baruch Springs) and when I say it was right on the border, the fence separating Israel from Lebanon was right at the edge of our kibbutz. So we often were awakened suddenly in the middle of the night with bombardments of . . . . rockets that were coming over from Lebanon. They would always come around 2:00 AM so we all had to get up and run to the nearest bomb shelter. That was the introduction to life in Israel for us, although Bruce discovered that a group of female army inductees in our kibbutz all went to the same bomb shelter. He followed them! (Laughter). . . (Laughter)
Interviewer: That would be safe?
Papier: . . . . and had a great time.
Interviewer: Well that was a good thing to be aware of.
Papier: So that was something different, for sure.
Interviewer: When were you there?
Papier: Early 1970, and we were in the kibbutz for three months. Then we both moved to Tel Aviv where we got jobs. He was in the aircraft industry and I was with a health research project in Tel Aviv, funded by the Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Papier: So I stayed on following my first year as a volunteer. Bruce returned to the States and I was asked to stay on in the job that I was doing. I stayed for an additional two years and just loved it. I fell in love with Israel.
Interviewer: You had an impressive medical background then.
Papier: I did, I did. And of course my dad had this image of me becoming, you know, a university professor. Really, he had always had those aspirations for himself.
Papier: I didn’t have the same aspirations, but he kept nudging and pushing me in that direction. He wanted me to come back home to finish my doctorate. I wanted to stay in Israel and continue what I was doing. So I came up with a plan that I thought was foolproof, but I ended up being the fool, because I thought I would apply to programs that I knew I did not quality for, so I would be rejected. I would tell my dad, “I tried, I failed, so I guess I’ll just stay in Israel”.
Interviewer: Well planned.
Papier: And so I applied to Harvard, Johns Hopkins and the University of Michigan for a doctorate in epidemiology in their public health programs. I found out that you had do have a doctoral degree prior to that (either a veterinarian or a medical or dental degree) to get into the program.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Papier: Although I didn’t have any of those degrees, I was accepted at all three universities with a full scholarship to the Harvard School of Public Health.
Interviewer: No kidding, oh, wow! Okay so we’re still in Israel. This is now Side B of Tape l.
Papier: Thank you. I thought I had the perfect plan but it backfired. I mean not really backfired.
Interviewer: It was in a good way.
Papier: I would have a full scholarship at the Harvard School of Public Health. So I couldn’t say “no” to that . . .
Interviewer: Your dad had to be pleased?
Papier: My dad was pleased. I did join that program and when I first went in, they of course noted that I had already received a Master’s in Public Health from the University of North Carolina. They made a proposal to me that I could get a second Master’s Degree in one year instead of two years, because I already had the first one. And then that year would count toward the doctoral, if I wanted to continue on to the doctoral.
Papier: It sounded good to me. So I went on and got a Master’s in Epidemiology, and at the end of that year, I wasn’t really sure that I wanted to go on for the doctorate. I really preferred to go back to Israel or at least take a leave of absence to get work experience. Again, I wasn’t too happy that my dad wanted me to get the doctorate, but I agreed to take an 18-month leave of absence and get a job — a real job — in public health and then go back and finish my doctorate. I was asked to interview for a position at the University of Missouri in St. Louis. I went out there for my interview. They wined and dined me like royalty. I got the job teaching as well as doing part-time work at the City Health Department, but before beginning, I asked them if they would mind if I spent the summer in Israel and then start teaching in the fall. They said, “Fine”. I went back to Israel for the summer, refell in love with Israel, decided to stay there and cancelled the job.
Interviewer: Where were you in Israel at this time?
Papier: I got a job at Tel Aviv University Medical School.
Interviewer: Which isn’t bad either.
Papier: No, but to teach rather than to get my doctorate . . .
Papier: and so my dad wasn’t the happiest because he wanted me to be in the U.S. and to get my doctorate. It was a little bit too far away over there.
Papier: When I went back, I met the man I was going to marry (Gene Goldberg) who emigrated from the Soviet Union. We met and actually got married at Tel Aviv University where I was teaching and my parents came over for the wedding with a group mission from Columbus. Gene’s original name from Russia was “Gena”. When he moved to Israel, he was called “Chanoch” and when we moved to Columbus, my mom called him “Gene” and that name has stuck ever since.
Papier: And so everybody on that mission came to my wedding.
Interviewer: You had an immediate wedding party!
Papier: Yeah. So that was really fun and I married Gene Goldberg . . .
Interviewer: Had they met him before?
Papier: They had met him once before, yes. We got married at Tel Aviv University. You have to have an Orthodox wedding, at least you did have to at that time, if you were going to get married in Israel. So we had an American Orthodox rabbi from Brooklyn, Rabbi Plato, who was living in Israel. I had to go through the mikveh and all the rest of it. That was an experience. My husband Gene was born in Saratov, Russia, but grew up in Leningrad, now St. Petersberg.
Interviewer: So he immigrated to Israel?
Papier: He immigrated to Israel in 1975 with his mother. His father unfortunately perished during the Second World War during the siege of Leningrad.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Papier: And . . .
Interviewer: Did he have siblings?
Papier: No, no siblings. His story is very interesting because, during the siege of Leningrad, the women and children were sent out by train to Siberia. My husband unfortunately had cholera on the trip out there. He was just a baby. The people on the train wanted to throw both of them overboard.
Interviewer: Just get rid of them?
Papier: Yeah because, you know . . .
Interviewer: They were a detriment . . .
Interviewer: . . . to the plan.
Papier: And apparently just through my mother-in-law’s strength of character they didn’t get thrown off the train.
Papier: But when they got to Siberia together with my mother-in-law’s sister, they lived literally in a hole in the ground. You can’t even imagine how difficult the circumstances were. His mother and her sister took turns guarding this little hovel where they only had bread and water but still people would try to steal whatever they had. They would have a little sulfuric acid available because my mother-in-law was a doctor, which they could spritz at people who happened to want to steal their meager rations.
Papier: And they would take turns guarding it at night.
Papier: It just amazes me . . .
Papier: how they . . .
Interviewer: Unbelievable stories.
Papier: how they survived. Yeah. So my husband’s childhood was not exactly a childhood at all.
Interviewer: No. How long were they there?
Papier: Till the war was over I believe. I mean it was just terrible, trying circumstances, with malnutrition and all that.
Interviewer: Did it affect his health?
Papier: It did affect his health. As a matter of fact he had a case of rheumatic heart disease when he was very young. I don’t think he was expected to live really. Doctors had a very poor prognosis for him. But he decided, when he was going on teenage years, that he would show the doctors he would overcome this. He would gain his strength back. He planned his own exercise regime by increasing the amount of time spent walking every day, then he would start running and by the end he became a champion youth runner for Russia.
Interviewer: Wow! What great strength he had.
Papier: Yeah. And still to this day (he’ll be 70 this year), runs 10 kilometers every morning before breakfast kick-boxes in a club for 2-2� hours every evening.
Interviewer: Great physical and mental energy. That’s terrific. That’s terrific.
Papier: Yeah. Thank you.
Interviewer: How long did you know each other before you were married?
Papier: We knew each other for about 1½ years.
Interviewer: What was he doing at the time in Israel?
Papier: He had been on board Zim, the Israeli shipping lines as an electrical engineer.
Interviewer: Where did he get his education?
Papier: He got his education in Russia. He was trained as an electro-mechanical engineer. He wanted to be a doctor. His mother had been a doctor and because you can’t exactly choose what you want to be in Russia, he studied nursing at night on his own in order to get a little bit closer to the medical field.
Interviewer: What part of Russia did he live in? That, they were in Siberia?
Papier: Well he was born in Saratov, Russia but when they came back from Siberia, they lived in Leningrad.
Interviewer: Oh okay.
Papier: And so he lived most of his life in Leningrad.
Interviewer: I see.
Papier: But he did get his degree in electro-mechanical engineering and worked a little bit in that field before he moved to Israel. It’s almost impossible to start at the same level you were at in your country of origin, especially if it was Russia. They didn’t necessarily know if you had the proper academic background. So he had a variety of jobs in Israel that were not very satisfying. But then he decided he would study a new field, so he went into occupational therapy. I was working at Tel Aviv University and family members could get free tuition there. So he went into occupational therapy starting from scratch and ended up being the head of a geriatric occupational therapy department in a geriatric hospital in Pardes Hanna.
Interviewer: Oh, what an accomplishment!
Papier: Yeah. He enjoyed working in that area.
Interviewer: I want to clarify a couple of dates. What was the date of your wedding?
Papier: It was April 6, 1978, and we’re coming up on that in a few days.
Interviewer: Yeah that’s right.
Papier: So we’ll be married 33 years this year.
Interviewer: Great, great. Let’s see, what was your first home together when you were married? You were in Israel and what year did you leave Israel?
Papier: I had been living in Ramat Aviv which was close to Tel Aviv University. Of course, I was working there and he had been living with his mother in Hadera, about 25 kilometers north of Tel Aviv. He wanted to continue living in Hadera and I wanted to continue living in Ramat Aviv. He found an apartment in Hadera and we decided to move in there. I wasn’t really the happiest of people because that meant an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes each way by bus every day, twice a day. But we lived there for 8 years in a very interesting community. There were people from all over the world, lots of Russians, and many people from the various republics in Bucharia, from Georgia, you know the Republic of Georgia, and various places throughout the Soviet Union. We had a lot of Moroccans in the community, some Persians, a lot of Indians from India, some Ethiopeans. They were all Jewish.
Interviewer: Well that brings up another question. You obviously learned to speak Hebrew.
Papier: I did, yes. I learned Hebrew in my Kibbutz Ulpan. In my job I had to speak Hebrew.
Interviewer: Any other languages that you were able to learn?
Papier: Not really. I did study French for 6 years in high school and college but I can’t say that I speak well. But when you’re living in a country, you have to learn the language. There’s no choice.
Interviewer: What about Russian? Did your husband continue . . .
Papier: Yes he learned English and Hebrew better than I did learn Russian and Hebrew. My Hebrew was pretty good but his English is very good. I can understand Russian fairly well but not really speak it too well.
Interviewer: Where did he learn English?
Papier: Well he didn’t really learn English till he came to the States. Although most of the classes in occupational therapy were actually taught in English. But he tried hard and he did well. And he tried speaking in English at home.
Interviewer: Uh huh. So what year did you leave Israel?
Papier: We left Israel in 1987.
Interviewer: Was there any more that you wanted to tell us about Israel?
Papier: Well, of course, our two sons were born in Israel.
Interviewer: Oh they were?
Papier: Allen is our oldest son. He just turned 32. And Roger’s our younger. He just turned 29. Roger lives in Brooklyn and just bought a condo there. And Allen is in Columbus but will soon be moving to New York as well. And we moved here when the boys were 8 and 5 in 1987. That corresponded to my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary.
Interviewer: Oh that tied in nicely.
Papier: And we had a big run of events for that with a blow-out party at the 94th Aero Squadron.
Interviewer: And I’ll bet your parents were very happy.
Papier: They were very happy to have us back and we wanted to come back here in order to be closer to them and of course, my husband’s mother also came along with us. We were all in close proximity to one another.
Interviewer: Did your parents have opportunities to visit your family in Israel?
Papier: Yes, yes they came over several times. Usually we would try to come to Columbus at least once a year for a couple of weeks and that worked out. Everybody got to know each other quite well . . .
Papier: And we were all in a close-knit circle. We really had a lot of fun and we took care of each other.
Interviewer: Where did you live when you came back to the States?
Papier: Well we lived in the present apartment at Bexley Village Apartments . . .
Interviewer: You lived there, correct?
Papier: Yes we lived there and Gene’s mother moved into an apartment on South Cassingham, south of Livingston Avenue.
Interviewer: I see.
Papier: So we were all within walking distance to one another. We helped each other out and, you know, got together for meals and so forth.
Interviewer: What about your mother-in-law? What happened with her?
Papier: She had been a physician – a dermatologist in Russia and then in Israel. She retired before she moved here so . . .
Interviewer: What was her name?
Papier: Rachel Goldberg. Her husband, Iser Goldberg, unfortunately died during the siege of Leningrad during WW II. My husband was only a year old when he and his mom were sent by train to Siberia. He never knew his dad.
Interviewer: What a tragedy for Gene and his mother. How did she manage when she got to Columbus?
Papier: She went through the “English as a Second Language” program at JCC and her English was actually fairly passable.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Papier: So she did quite well and of course she spoke Yiddish fluently too, which didn’t hurt, you know, in getting to meet people.
Interviewer: So was she able to acclimate into American life?
Papier: She did. I think she acclimated quite well. Yes, as did the rest of my family.
Interviewer: . . . you and your husband and the children?
Papier: Yes, and Rachel was hardy, always was a very hardy person and though petite, she was mighty.
Interviewer: Is she still living?
Papier: No she passed away about five years ago.
Interviewer: Uh huh. Tell us about your children, each one.
Papier: Okay. Allen, he is a born talker. He came out talking. The minute he was born he just talked talked. In Israel there are so many languages spoken, plus we had a babysitter who was Moroccan, so he started picking that up too. He would change the TV and radio stations around. You could hear Ladino, you could hear Arabic, you could hear English, Hebrew, Spanish, French, anything. And he would just sit for hours and listen and absorb all that stuff. So he became our little linguist and by the way he must have gotten that ability from my husband’s side of the family because my husband’s father had been a linguistics professor at the University of Leningrad . . .
Interviewer: Oh . . .
Papier: and he knew 13 languages.
Interviewer: In those genes . . .
Papier: Yes those language genes really helped and so Allen apparently, both kids pick up languages. They pick up languages very fast. Allen’s particular talent was mimicking people’s accents. He would listen to Golda Meir making a speech and he would mimic her speaking Hebrew with her American accent.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Papier: Or he would mimic somebody speaking English with a Russian accent and stuff like that.
Interviewer: Was that fun for him?
Papier: For sure! He would just amuse himself by the hour as well as amuse other people.
Interviewer: Were there others? Did he get confused by so many different languages?
Papier: Some people wanted to give us all kinds of advice about which language we should speak with the kids Too many and they would start stuttering and stammering. But we decided not to heed that advice. We would just speak the language we knew best and they would pick up Hebrew on the street and in school so they wouldn’t get confused. Allen didn’t get confused at all — he picked them all up and then became a Spanish major at Brandeis University. So he knows Hebrew, English, Russian and Spanish. I think those are his main languages. And a little bit of Yiddish . . .
Interviewer: What does he do?
Papier: At the moment he’s in business for himself and he’s, as I say, planning to move to New York soon. Roger, the younger, also picks up languages and he always enjoyed going abroad to learn. So he went, well actually both kids went to South America during their senior year of high school for a year abroad. Allen went to Ecuador and Roger went to Venezuela for the year. And so they speak Spanish, you know, like natives. During college, also at Brandeis, Roger spent a semester in Prague and a semester in Amsterdam and following that, he spent a year as an intern in Berlin. So he has had a lot of worldly experience and picks up languages very fast too, so Roger now knows Czech, English, Hebrew, Russian, German and Spanish!
Interviewer: Wow! . . .
Papier: They just love it, I mean, they’re like sponges. Of course, it’s harder for me to learn languages, but they just pick them up.
Interviewer: Well that should serve them well in today’s world.
Papier: Yes. Roger is a freelance graphic designer. He studied psychology first, got his Master’s at the New School in Manhattan. Then, instead of going into the doctoral program in psychology, which he was accepted into, he decided to go into graphic design — started over from scratch. He also does other projects, one of which is fundraising for a film about Holocaust musicians. Now he’s working on developing an app for the i-phone.
Interviewer: Ummm, very interesting.
Papier: Yeah. He has fun choosing this or that project to do.
Interviewer: Well he has many talents to choose from. Are either of them musicians?
Papier: Roger started out on piano and guitar and became quite proficient but, you know, he’s dabbling in so many things that those kind of went by the wayside. Allen started out on the trumpet but didn’t stick with it. I was disappointed, but it’s their lives to live as they choose.
Interviewer: Yeah and it sounds like you’ve been helping them pursue their dreams. And I’m sure you’re proud of their accomplishments. Are either of them married?
Papier: Not yet.
Interviewer: Well don’t give up the ship.
Interviewer: I don’t think I talked about your musical training.
Papier: Ok, yeah. I studied privately from fifth grade all through Oberlin College. Of course I also taught during college and afterwards. But I was in various small orchestras and ensembles throughout the years.
Interviewer: Was it always the flute?
Papier: Yes, always the flute and I now have the full complement of flutes from piccolo to regular flute as well as alto and base flute. So I perform on a variety of instruments. When I was in high school, I performed with OSU’s Stadium Theater in the pit orchestra. I was also in the Columbus Symphony Youth Orchestra. So I got a lot of . . .
Interviewer: A lot of good musical experience. Does your husband have any musical background?
Papier: He was a violinist growing up but he was not allowed to take his violin out of Russia when he left.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Papier: They didn’t allow him to do that and so he never really picked it up again.
Interviewer: What is his occupation now? What has his occupation been?
Papier: As I said, he changed to occupational therapy . . .
Interviewer: Yeah that’s right . . .
Papier: And then he did a lot of various jobs. He ended up doing a correspondence course in heating and cooling, installation and repair. So he did that as well. A little bit of this and a little bit of that.
Interviewer: Well I think you and your husband and your children have had a lot of interesting experiences that you were able to pursue on your own . . .
Papier: Yeah, that’s for sure.
Interviewer: . . . and accomplish!
Papier: We all ended up being kind of freelancers after a while because it just felt more comfortable doing exactly the projects that we were interested in . . .
Papier: rather than . . .
Interviewer: Yeah from what you’ve been telling me, with your father guiding you and you had your own opinions about what you wanted to do with your life, that probably encouraged them to do the same.
Papier: Right. When I did come back to the states, my dad was still kind of trying to push me into going to get my doctorate or to work in the field of public health or teach at the university. At that time I met Arkadiy Gips the violinist, originally from Kiev, Ukraine.
Interviewer: Well-known also in Columbus.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Papier: And Mikhail Popov and Vicki Axe, the Cantor at Temple Israel at the time, and a variety of people who encouraged me to pursue music. That’s when I got involved in the music field here in Columbus.
Interviewer: I know that you have some other interests and I’m going to take this time to ask you to tell us about them.
Papier: Sure, okay. I would say that music is really my main occupation. I do a lot of programs around the community — concerts, weddings, private parties and so forth. When I first came back, I did join the Zivili Slavic Dance Company. Arkadiy joined at the same time. We got to travel to Europe on several occasions with that group as well as around this country. That was a lot of fun. Arkadiy, Mikhail Popov and I do a lot of entertaining in Columbus and I also am an accompanist for the Koleinu Jewish Community Choir and the Temple Beth Shalom Sharyonim, their choral group. I’ve been with each of these groups for about 15 years or so. I’m in a flute choir and various flute ensembles around town as well as a group called the Bexley Chamber Ensemble, comprised of two flutes and a cello. We recently performed at Bexley Library.
Interviewer: Your hours are very well taken, aren’t they?
Papier: Yep, that’s for sure.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Papier: Reiki is another activity I became interested in when I returned from Israel.
Interviewer: Spell that for us.
Papier: Reiki is R-E-I-K-I. It is originally a Japanese method for balancing energy, the body’s energy. It’s body-mind-spirit type of energy balancing, a hands-on technique.
Interviewer: Where did you get that training?
Papier: I was trained by Nick Ciranni who is the guitarist and singer at Temple Beth Shalom and a prominent member of the Jewish community. He’s a massage therapist and Reiki Master so I studied privately with him. I am now a so-called “Reiki Master” and can now teach the technique to other people.
Interviewer: Where do you teach?
Papier: I have a studio on Drexel just north of the barber shop.
Interviewer: Oh okay.
Papier: I use that as my workplace. I teach health classes there, health and healing classes on Reiki as well as classes for the community to learn about how to heal themselves from a natural healing point of view.
Interviewer: So natural healing . . .
Interviewer: Talk about that. Is that like yoga?
Papier: Not really, yoga is different, but there are many techniques that deal with a person’s energy flow. They all utilize the same energy, but in a different way. They’re all very valid and interesting techniques. I think people who are interested in alternative healing should investigate the various methods that are available, because usually when people try either yoga or Tai Chi or Reiki, it just makes them feel so much better. It’s relaxing, energizing and healing.
Interviewer: Is Reiki basically a hands-on technique?
Papier: It can be hands-on, it can be hands slightly above the body, or it can be from a distance. You can send energy through the “ethers” you might say, and it’s a very fascinating concept. Out of all the things I’ve learned in my life, I would say that Reiki would probably come at the very top of the list.
Papier: Yes, Reiki is one of the most beneficial things that I’ve ever learned how to do.
Interviewer: Have a lot of people caught on to it?
Papier: A lot of people have caught on and are catching on. Many nurses have taken it up. Of course, doctors don’t want to hear about anything that does not have to do with, you know . . .
Papier: Right. But nurses have caught on in great numbers.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Papier: It’s something anybody can learn how to do. You don’t have to have special talents to be able to do it. You just have to learn the technique and practice it.
Interviewer: Is age a deterrent?
Papier: Not at all, not at all. The very young and very old could do it.
Interviewer: Well it sounds like something we could use here at Creekside.
Papier: Absolutely, absolutely. I’m just going to give you one example. When my mother was 90, she had to have gallbladder surgery. Her surgery was performed at Mt. Carmel East. She was in the hospital for one week and then she was going to go to Heritage House for recuperation.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Papier: The doctor thought it would take six to eight weeks for her to completely recuperate. Well I was with my mom the whole week at Mt. Carmel and the four days she was at Heritage House, not six to eight weeks.
Interviewer: Four days?
Papier: So six days in the hospital and four days at Heritage house and she was completely healed. Her doctor was amazed!
Papier: Uh huh. I took her to the surgeon for a check-up ten days after surgery. He looked at her and he said, “Let me see, when did we do the surgery?” It had been ten days. And he said, “You know, there must be some mistake here because she’s completely healed.” He said he had never seen anything like it.
Interviewer: We’re not talking about weeks?
Papier: No, it was ten days and he said, “Well that’s impossible at her age.” And I said, “I’ve been doing Reiki with her every day.” And he, of course, hadn’t heard of Reiki. He said, “Well, that’s amazing”. The doctor removed her staples and we were back to her usual water aerobics program three times a week, and within one more week, back to walking a mile a day as well. So it’s a very interesting, interesting healing technique.
Interviewer: I’ve got to talk to you about this later!
Interviewer: This is certainly interesting. I’m not aware of many people myself that have done this but it certainly sounds worth investigating further.
Papier: And I love working with elderly people.
Interviewer: Can you do it in a class or does it have to be individual?
Papier: I can teach in a class but it has to be done individually.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Papier: Yeah. When you learn the technique you can heal yourself. You can do it on yourself as well as on other people. So it’s a very handy thing to know how to do.
Interviewer: It sure is.
Papier: For self-healing.
Papier: And healing other people. Even at a distance.
Interviewer: It’s good to know that you can have such control.
Interviewer: At this point I usually ask if you have any hobbies or interests, but I think we’ve covered a lot already.
Papier: We’ve covered all but one hobby and that is ballroom dancing which I took up 7 years ago . . .
Interviewer: Ballroom dancing?
Papier: . . . and became an addict!
Interviewer: Wow, that’s a great form of exercise . . .
Interviewer: Isn’t it?
Papier: Yeah. I do it about 4 times a week.
Interviewer: Do you do it in a class?
Papier: Well I take private lessons and then I do go to various dances and salsa clubs.
Interviewer: Does your husband go with you?
Papier: No he doesn’t.
Interviewer: He’s not interested.
Papier: He’s interested in kick-boxing. That’s his hobby.
Interviewer: Oh, and you’re not?
Interviewer: Okay. Well it’s okay. You have your fun though, the ballroom dancing.
Papier: Oh it’s so much fun, yeah. As a matter of fact, I’ll be doing an exhibition here at Creekside on the 28th of this month.
Interviewer: You know I thought that was on our calendar. That’s good. I’ll look forward to that.
Papier: Thank you.
Interviewer: Yeah, we might be able to get some people. The yoga teacher we had this morning tried to get us to do some dancing but it’s not something we’re real familiar with. We weren’t all real comfortable about it. But it could be a possibility. Can you tell us about your travels?
Papier: My husband likes to go to resorts in the Dominican Republic, or Mexico or Costa Rica. We went to Costa Rica last year mostly for the relaxation benefit. I like going on learning vacations to places I’ve never been.
Interviewer: Well you have to compromise a little bit.
Interviewer: I just want to ask you this question. We’re doing this interview for the Columbus Jewish Historical Society. The question I want to put to you is how do you feel about your Jewishness and what does it mean to you to be Jewish? You’ve spent a lot of time in Israel and I know you’re very involved with a lot of Jewish community activities around here.
Papier: That’s a great question which gets to the core of who I am and what makes me tick. I might not have realized it as I was living through it. I might not have put my Jewishness near the top or at the top, but looking back, I would say that it has been the focal point of my identity — my interest in helping people and doing community service projects and things like that. Of course, going to Israel kind of tests your Jewishness because not everybody lives such a very Jewish lifestyle, including myself. In other words, I would consider myself as being a secular Jew in Israel. I think that I am more Jewish in terms of going to Temple and participating in Jewish activities here than I did in Israel but one’s whole life in Israel is a Jewish lifestyle . . .
Interviewer: Yeah, it’s so different.
Papier: but definitely, tremendously important. My Jewish identity is right at the core of who I am.
Interviewer: As a youngster did you and your family belong to a synagogue?
Papier: Yes we belonged to Temple Israel. My brother had his Bar Mitzvah at the Bryden Road Temple . . .
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Papier: with Rabbi Folkman. Of course we knew the Folkmans very well.
Interviewer: Sure. And the synagogue you belong to now is . . .
Papier: Rabbi Apothaker’s Temple Beth Shalom in New Albany.
Interviewer: Uh huh. Is that Reform?
Interviewer: Do you hold any committee appointments?
Papier: Not really, although I do a lot of the music over there for various activities, and our choir performs about once a month for Friday Evening Services.
Interviewer: I see.
Papier: And we also have a group called Shabband. Rabbi Benjy Bar Lev is our Assistant Rabbi there. He directs our Shabbat Band — Shabband — for one Friday night every month. It rocks!
Interviewer: Great! Sounds like fun!
Papier: Arkadiy also participates in that as well as guitarist Mark Rossio.
Interviewer: You have some pretty dynamic people on the Board and who run the synagogue. I spoke to a family not long ago who have a teenage youngster who looks forward to going to Sunday School!
Papier: Yeah . . .
Interviewer: That’s terrific. Do you have any feelings about how television might have influenced our society.
Papier: Are you talking about the Jewish community?
Interviewer: Well I’m talking about television in general with families and, you know, spending a lot of time behind the television . . . when there are so many community activities to be involved in.
Papier: That’s a great question. I think these days there are so many things vying for our time, television being a big one, especially if you have cable . . .
Interviewer: You can listen to some good musical programs.
Papier: You can get music, history and discovery channels but — you can find yourself getting stuck in front of the tube and that’s a shame. So many things vie for our attention and time and sometimes the community activities only get second or third place.
Interviewer: We get lazy.
Papier: We do get lazy. But I think that the Jewish community activities are able to command the attention they deserve and that people are responsive within the Jewish community to events going on here. Columbus is a very unusual city in that regard. Our Jewish community, and the various temples and synagogues work together in harmony which is a wonderful thing. The Koleinu Jewish Community Choir is made up of members of all the different congregations.
Interviewer: I wanted to ask you to describe Koleinu to us.
Papier: Cantor Jack Chomsky founded it originally with Cantor Vicki Axe about 15years ago. It is made up of members of various congregations. From that point of view it is unusual. There are not many cities that can boast having a Jewish community choir and we do participate in many community events.
Interviewer: Koleinu has been here at Creekside and I’ve heard them a couple of times. They’re very enjoyable, entertaining and certainly provide educational opportunities for our community.
Papier: We usually participate in the Mayor’s Holocaust Memorial Day program as well as programs at the Museum of Art, Easton and many other venues.
Interviewer: Or rehearsing takes a lot of time too.
Papier: It does.
Interviewer: Yeah. Sometimes the rehearsing can be fun.
Papier: I’d say it’s more a necessity than fun! (Laughs) . . .
Interviewer: I’m sure it acts as a social organization for the members as well.
Papier: Yes that’s true.
Interviewer: What are your goals for the future? It sounds like you’ve accomplished more than most people.
Papier: Good question. How do you do you come up with such good questions?
Interviewer: We dream about them.
Interviewer: We tailor them to certain people. That’s how . . .
Papier: I do have a lot of goals for myself — music, life, family . . . There is never enough time to do all the things you want to do, unfortunately. You just have to get more and more energy to do all the things you want to. That’s the tricky part. But I am thinking of becoming a flute karaoke player — kind of reinventing myself from time to time. In other words I would play the melody on flute and the accompaniment would he on CDs. Then we could project the words on the wall and people could sing along. That’s my next project.
Interviewer: Sounds very doable.
Interviewer: It’s a party thing.
Papier: I love, oh yeah, love parties! And I would love to do more exhibition dancing. That’s something I see in my future. It’s great exercise. I am diabetic and I’m working on healing myself. I need lots of exercise. Dancing comes in handy there.
Interviewer: Your lifestyle is convenient for your health situation.
Papier: Yes, I definitely work on that every day, walking and doing whatever it takes to keep in good shape.
Interviewer: Well, you certainly are a mentor in the community and I think that you’ve given us a lot of input into what a person can do with their life, even with some hitches in the road along the way. But you’ve accomplished so much. Anything else you’d like to comment on?
Papier: I’m sure I’ll think of something when I walk out the door!
Interviewer: It always happens.
Papier: Thank you very much for the opportunity to go down memory lane. It has been interesting to do this.
Interviewer: Well I thoroughly enjoyed talking with you and it’s pretty exciting to know that there are so many things that a person can accomplish in their life! Sometimes people get stuck in patterns and just want to stay there and take the easy way. You haven’t done that. On behalf of the Columbus Jewish Historical Society, I want to thank you for the time we spent together this afternoon and I look forward to learning about your further adventures.
Papier: Thank you for taking the time yourself. I appreciate it.
End of interview
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Transcribed by Honey Abramson
Corrected/Edited by Cheri Papier