This interview for the Columbus Jewish Historical Society Oral History Project with
Myrtle Huhn is taking place October 23, 1996, at 516 Summit, Marion, Ohio. The Interviewer is Naomi Schottenstein.
Interviewer: What is your name?
Huhn: Myrtle Huhn.
Interviewer: The reason we’re interviewing Myrtle is because it is the 100 year
anniversary of Temple Israel in Marion, Ohio. Myrtle, I’m going to ask you to give me
a little bit of background of your own life – where and when you were born and a little
about your family before you left Illinois.
Huhn: I am 84 years old. I was born September 10, 1912 on Prairie Avenue on
Chicago’s south side. I went to three grammar schools and the famous Hyde Park High
School. I graduated and went to the University of Chicago for two years. That was in 1929.
I don’t need to say anymore – that was during the Depression. Then I had to take a
job and I worked for Continental Coffee Company for eleven years. Originally, I started as
a biller then I became secretary to the credit manager. I left there to get married.
Interviewer: Can you tell me a little about your parents?
Huhn: My father was one of eight children who came from what is now Czechoslovakia. All
his brothers and sisters immigrated to the United States and left just their parents
behind. My mother was born in Lowell, Massachusetts and her parents were immigrants. Her
father, Maurice Hirsch, came from Germany but her mother came from Czechoslovakia, the
same small town that my father had been born in. They were what we called Landsmen. They
made their home in Providence, Rhode Island for many years until they moved to Chicago. I
don’t know why they did that. My mother and her brother grew up in Chicago.
Interviewer: Did you have sisters and brothers?
Huhn: I had two sisters. One died in 1980, I believe, at the age of 77. She was twelve
years older than I. My other sister is eight years older than I and at 92, she still lives
and is in Florida.
Interviewer: Can you tell me how you met your husband and when you got married?
Huhn: That was quite a story. I went to Tuscor, Montana, on my vacation because I had
hay fever and I liked it so well that I kept going back every year until I finally met
my husband’s sister and mother who were staying at the same hotel. We became close
friends, she visited me in Chicago and she invited me to visit her in Marion to meet her
brother. And that’s how it all started.
Interviewer: That was your Marion connection. What was your husband doing at that time?
Huhn: He was a railroader which was very unusual for anyone of the Jewish religion. He
was a clerk in the storekeeper’s office here in Marion until he was drafted during
World War II. He would have had to serve in the infantry but he was very lucky. He knew
shorthand and typing so they sent him to the Army War College in Washington D.C. instead
of to a training camp in Arkansas or someplace like that.
Interviewer: Can you tell us how your husband came to Marion?
Huhn: He was three years old when the family moved from Greenville, Ohio to Marion and
his father was going into business with a man by the name of Heff (I can’t think of
his first name). They went into the clothing store business until, I guess, they found
they couldn’t stand each other. They dissolved the business and my father-in-law
went to work as an agent for New York Life Insurance. The family was very well known in
Interviewer: Do you remember how big the Jewish community was at that time, and the
community at large?
Huhn: We always stayed around a level of about forty families but that was because
there were so many returning veterans who came to Marion to set up businesses.
Interviewer: How did you adjust when you first came to Marion? You came from a bigger
city – how did that work for you?
Huhn: Well, I had just lived for 2 1/2 years in Washington and everyone said, “You
won’t like it. It’s just too small.” Well, I took to Marion like a duck
takes to the water, as they say. I always felt right at home in Marion both with the
Jewish people and the non-Jewish people – the whole community. I always felt very welcome and was well-adjusted.
Interviewer: How soon after you were married and moved to Marion did you have your son?
Huhn: My son was born in Walter Reed Hospital in Washington D.C. He was ten months old
when we moved to Marion in October 1945. I’ve been here fifty-one years.
Interviewer: Where does he live now?
Huhn: He lives in Highland Lakes, ten miles north of Westerville. He’s an attorney
and his office is on Johnstown Road in Gahanna.
Interviewer: That’s where a lot of the population is moving now. Does you son have
Huhn: He has one daughter. She’s twenty-five and is a graduate of Ohio State
University. Her mother is also a graduate of Ohio State University and my son is a
graduate of Ohio University and Ohio State University Law School. My son, after passing
the Bar Exam, was admitted to the FBI and served with them for four and a half years on
the west coast. His first assignment was in Portland and then he went to Los Angeles and
that’s where my granddaughter was born.
Interviewer: He has an interesting background. Getting back to Marion – when you first
came here, do you remember anything about the political picture? What was going on
Huhn: Of course, Truman was president. I think Marion was always a Republican
stronghold, particularly because of Harding. I was shocked at how loyal and defensive they
were about Harding when anyone said anything bad about him.
Interviewer: What was Harding’s connection to Marion?
Huhn: He was born in a little town called Iberia but he made his name as publisher of
the Marion Star which is our newspaper to this day.
Interviewer: There was a negative attitude toward him?
Huhn: There were some scandals during his administration and public opinion labeled him
as a very weak president. But since then, I think they are changing their minds a little –
things weren’t as bad as people said. They talked about the Tea Pot Dome Scandal
during his administration. No one said that he was crooked but that he was
surrounded by some crooked people. I thought he made some wonderful choices and had some marvelous cabinet members.
Interviewer: Did you know any of his family from Marion?
Huhn: Actually he had a nephew who had a sanitarium in Columbus – The Harding
Sanitarium was very famous. That was his great nephew.
Interviewer: Can you tell us anything about the effect of the Depression in Marion at
the time you came?
Huhn: When I came to Marion, things were on the upswing. Businesses were booming and
things were pretty good. We had the Depot where they made ammunition for the war. It
employed a lot of people.
Interviewer: What about the effect of World War II on Marion?
Huhn: A lot of young men (and women) were drafted. The women joined the WACs or WAVEs. But the men in the Jewish community – we have a plaque in the library with the names of the men who served in World War II from the Marion community.
Interviewer: What about Marion’s economic development after World War II? How did
Marion develop to where it is now?
Huhn: The population growth was slow compared to other places but it’s been steady
and we have a lot of new homes and new sections opening up. They’re not all annexed
to the city.
Interviewer: Can you give us an idea of what the population is now and what it was a
number of years ago?
Huhn: I think it’s in the neighborhood of 40,000. I don’t know what it was
then. Certainly the surrounding county has grown.
Interviewer: What county is this?
Huhn: Marion County.
Interviewer: When did you become involved in community work in Marion?
Huhn: The minute I stepped in. And there’s never been a dull moment since.
Interviewer: How did you start? What were the first activities?
Huhn: Well, my husband’s family was involved in with the Temple and the Council of
Jewish Women which had been established 100 years ago, 1896. And I played Mah Jong so I
fit right in with all the women. I was very much in demand for that.
Before I knew it, I was teaching Sunday School and from that point, I became
superintendent. The next thing I knew, I was Temple secretary and then I was the first
woman trustee on the Temple board. That was an interesting experience because the men
really ignored me. They weren’t used to having a woman on the board and I was afraid
to open my mouth…but it was a good experience.
Interviewer: You had to prove yourself first, didn’t you?
Huhn: Yes, and my name is on the plaque in the front hallway leading into the Temple.
That was put there in 1953 when the Temple was built.
Interviewer: What about the rest of the community? Were you involved in other
activities in Marion?
Huhn: I was on the board of about a dozen community projects. The building of the new
hospital, the Marion County Federation of Women’s Clubs. We received the Club Home
for a gift and then we built an addition to it. I’ve been involved in that – I’m
a past president. Then I started working in the library after my husband passed away. I
worked there full-time for fifteen years and part-time for ten years. Some of that time I
worked at WMRN and did a radio show. The community pretty much knew what I sounded like
from the radio. I’d talk to people and they’d say, “I’ve heard you
someplace or met you somewhere,” and then they’d say, “Hey, you’re the
lady on the radio.”
Interviewer: What was your radio show about?
Huhn: It was called “Music and Books” and it mostly plugged the different
materials we had in the library. The radio station donated thirty minutes of time every
Sunday to the library. I was the spokesperson – I wrote the script, selected the music –
we played records. That was before we had tapes so I had to do it live until tapes were
invented and then I could tape it ahead of time or if I went on vacation, I could tape 2-3
programs at once and then they could play them consecutively.
Interviewer: That was an interesting time for you. We’re going to get a little
more into the heart of the Jewish community in Marion. With your background, you can
probably fill us in about the synagogue. Is there more than one? When did it begin?
Huhn: We never had more than one and to my knowledge, it’s always been Reform. We
have been connected to the UAHC – Union of American Hebrew Congregations. They met in each
other’s homes until they finally found some club rooms here and there. They met in
different places but never had formal services, to my knowledge, except on the High
Holidays. It’s all outlined in the history of our congregation. One of our student
rabbis did in 1992 and I made sure the Columbus Jewish Historical Society had a copy of
that history. It tells all the different places they had to meet until they finally got a
home on East Center Street. It was a ______ of residence – I believe it had three stories
and it was converted into our first real Temple.
Interviewer: What was it called?
Huhn: Either Marion Congregation of Israel or Temple Israel as it’s known now. We
didn’t have a formal rabbi until 1948 when we got our first student rabbi from HUC –
Rabbi Eugene Lippman. I believe he’s deceased but he became very famous. In fact,
this is a commentary: my husband and I were married in the Congregation Temple of
Washington D.C. The Rabbi who married us became famous – Rabbi Gerstenfeld – and when he
retired, Rabbi Lippman took his place. Of course I knew him from Marion. We have had student Rabbis every year since 1948 – I think all together about 35 or 36.
Interviewer: Where did the student rabbis come from?
Huhn: Cincinnati. They’d commute every other week. Sometimes there would be a
difference in their schedules but they came bi-weekly.
Interviewer: So the Holidays were covered in tune of . . . .
Huhn: We had Rabbis come from Cincinnati since I belonged to the Congregation. But we
also had a lay-person named Allen Tarshish, from Columbus, who would come for the High
Holidays. He was very well liked. The whole service would be in English. There would be no
Hebrew. We didn’t have an organ – we had a piano and a non-Jewish group from the
community would do traditional music for the High Holidays which they didn’t do very
well because they weren’t familiar with Hebrew when it came to singing but they did
the best they could. When we moved into our new synagogue – which is our present synagogue
– we had an organ.
Interviewer: Where is your present Temple Israel located?
Huhn: At the corner of Mt. Vernon and South Sefner Avenue. The exact address is 850 Mt.
Vernon and it covers the entire Northeast corner.
Interviewer: Are there school rooms in the building? A social hall?
Huhn: We have school rooms and we have a lovely social hall. We could use more
classrooms but we make do. We have to have a class on the stage and soemtimes we’ve
had to have a class in the kitchen when we’ve been overflowing with children.
Interviewer: It sounds like you have an active participation.
Interviewer: The age groups vary so sometimes we’ll have a class with two
children, sometimes with eight, so we have to adapt.
Interviewer: About how many families belong to Temple Israel at this time?
Huhn: I haven’t counted lately but I’d say 43 or 44.
Interviewer: Have you had many Jewish families move out of the community? Have some
Huhn: There’s always a little bit of what I call “traffic.” New people coming in, older people going out. We’ve had some deaths – we had three last year and they were all good paying members so we’re trying to get a few more.
Interviewer: Do you feel all the Jewish people in the community belong to the Temple?
Huhn: I wish I could say they did but I’m sure there are Jewish families who do
not affiliate with the Temple.
Interviewer: Is there any more you can tell us about the Temple? Can you tell us about
Huhn: Well, they have one class called history and one is called Holidays and then
there is a kindergarten class as well as a first grade and a Confirmation class. I’m
not really familiar since I’m not closely connected to the Sunday School.
Interviewer: Do you feel there’s probably a Confirmation class every year?
Huhn: We’ve had a lot of Bar/Bat Mitzvah which we didn’t have in the old
days. But, of course, now Reform has embraced a lot of that. When I went to Sunday School
in Chicago, I was confirmed. Girls didn’t have anything special and most boys
weren’t Bar Mitzvah because it was not the custom in Reform Judaism and that’s
where my family was affiliated.
Interviewer: So it’s a fairly recent custom – the Bar/Bat Mitzvah. Can you tell us
a little bit how your Congregation celebrates Holidays as a small community?
Huhn: For example, we have a Chanukah Brunch every year that the Sisterhood runs. The
Sunday School puts on a program and the Sisterhood prepares the traditional brunch with
latkes and applesauce, herring and egg and tuna salad, etc. Families look forward to that,
especially since their children are going to perform. There’s a lot of clicking of
cameras, we all have a good time and it’s a fund raiser for the synagogue.
Then we have a community Sedar the second night of Passover. We may only have 30-40
people but they come from homes where there is not any kind of a Passover celebration and
they enjoy getting together with members of the Congregation and one or two of the ladies
are conscripted to prepare the traditional meal and we go from the beginning to the end
with the traditional Sedar and all the symbols. One of our members conducts the Sedar
beautifully. We said that after so many years, he finally got it right. And he’s got
it down so it doesn’t take too long.
Interviewer: That’s encouraging, isn’t it? What about other holidays like
Break the Fast after Yom Kippur?
Huhn: After Yom Kippur, we have a Break the Fast that is just super. Again, it’s a
buffet that has to be set up in a hurry, after the closing services. Most everyone brings
something. It’s like a potluck. Families stay – we have so many out-of-town families
that belong but don’t live in Marion County. We have families from Canton, Tiffin,
Crestline, Delaware, Galion – all the little towns around.
Interviewer: Do those people know how close they are to Columbus?
Huhn: Oh, yes. And some of them could go to Toledo but they said there’s something
about Marion that keeps them here. The friendships, the warmth, and concern. They must like the way we do things.
Interviewer: It’s a good, small community atmosphere. I think this fills us in
pretty much on the religious aspect of Marion. Are there any Orthodox families in Marion?
Huhn: Oh, yes. They are absolutely on their own as far as kosher meat and so forth. But
they seem to have adapted beautifully to the Temple. We’re the only “game”
in town and they have to adjust. As far as I know, they seem to be very happy.
Interviewer: So they do their kosher shopping . . .
Huhn: Probably in Columbus, I’d imagine. We used to have a Greyhound Bus Service.
They’d phone their orders into Martin’s – Martin would put it on the bus.
Interviewer: Let’s talk a little about Jewish organizations in Marion. Your
affiliation with the Jewish Federation, Hadassah, etc.
Huhn: We’ve never had a Hadassah. We had a Council of Jewish Women which was
organized in 1896 and they were the ones who more or less organized the Sunday School – as
far as I know, from the history. We had a very active B’nai B’rith. We decided
we’d be better off for the sake of the Sunday School and community if we dropped the
Council and we became full-fledged Sisterhood and that’s what we’ve done. We are
affiliated with the Women of Reformed Judaism – we have about 30 members. We support the
Temple and are their right arm. Our fund raisers help. One is the Temple Israel New
Year’s Journal. We raise about $1,000 a year on that and it pays a token
reimbursement to the Sunday School teachers as an incentive to help. They’re all
community people who are very much involved in work. Most women now-a-days work. It was
easier in the past to get women to teach Sunday School because they didn’t have
anything to do during the day.
Interviewer: How are Temple membership dues worked out?
Huhn: We have a minimum. No maximum, of course. There is a suggested schedule of
payment for young couples, singles, etc.
Interviewer: Do you have any idea what that range is?
Huhn: Not really. It used to be $100 a year, then was raised to $125. The dues are very
minimal compared to what they would be at a larger synagogue.
Interviewer: Can you tell us a little about Jewish education? Who teaches the children?
Does a layperson work with them?
Huhn: I would say, over the years, Jerry, Betty’s husband, had been very
instrumental teaching Bar/Bat Mitzvah. There are others in the community who know Hebrew
and have helped the young people.
Interviewer: What is the minimum requirement for Bar/Bat Mitzvah?
Huhn: I’m not certain. They have to attend a certain amount of Friday night
services, they have to faithfully attend Sunday School.
Interviewer: What about the social life in the community and how families inter-twine?
Huhn: Well, we’re all pretty sociable. We have our Sisterhood dinner meetings, our
Chanukah brunch. We used to have more dinners as fund raisers but now it’s very hard
to get people to work on weekends when they work all week long. But we found if we have a
dinner before our Friday night services, we have a very good attendance. People seem to
Interviewer: You mentioned Sisterhood – is there also a Brotherhood that is actively
Huhn: Right now the “brothers” don’t have anything that I know of.
B’nai B’rith went downhill.
Interviewer: So the men don’t have very much in the way of organized activities.
Can you tell us a little about the cemetery in Marion and then about the Jewish cemetery?
Huhn: We didn’t have a Jewish cemetery for many years. Jews who lived and died
here were buried in the Marion Cemetery. My husband’s family was buried in
Interviewer: Is the Marion Cemetery for all denominations?
Huhn: Yes. The Catholic cemetery is separate. But all the Protestants are in one
cemetery. We finally got a plot of land and we call it Grand Prairie Cemetery. It’s
about eight miles out of Marion. That is now the Marion Jewish Cemetery. We were very
lucky – we had a windfall. Somebody wanted some land we owned and they bought it. With
that money, we started the Cemetery Fund. Of course, we have sold plots. My husband is
buried in the Jewish cemetery.
Interviewer: How much inter-action is there with Columbus and/or other communities?
Huhn: We have joined the Columbus Jewish Federation and support with donations. In that
way, we’ve been able to use the Wexner Heritage House for several people in the
community that needed a place to go that was Jewish oriented.
Interviewer: How is the solicitation done for the Columbus Jewish Federation here in
Huhn: We had people come and they told us about the Columbus Jewish Federation. We
brought it up at a board meeting and the board thought it was a very good idea that we
should belong. Then it was brought up at our annual meeting and the community as a whole
endorsed it and that’s how we happen to belong.
Interviewer: When you say “annual meeting”, is that an annual meeting of your
Huhn: Yes. We meet every April.
Interviewer: What about other communities? You mentioned families from some small
communities who come here.
Huhn: There’s no inter-action that I know of.
Interviewer: What are some of the other communities?
Huhn: Tiffin is an hour’s drive from here. It’s north. Crestline is north.
Delaware is south.
Interviewer: Can you tell us a little about why Jews originally settled in Marion? This
is before your personal history but there’s probably been talk about it.
Huhn: First of all, I think it was a place that had business opportunities. It was a
place for families to make a living and it was small.
Interviewer: What kinds of businesses did they go into?
Huhn: Clothing, jewelry, shoe stores – mostly merchants. Someone ran a deli, there was
a grocery store run by Jewish people in the old days. My father-in-law was an insurance
agent and he belonged to every non-Jewish group you can mention. He was a chartered member
of the Rotary. Many of our Jewish merchants were very closely affiliated with the
Interviewer: Do you have any idea when Jews first came to Marion?
Huhn: It was early in the 1800s.
Interviewer: Have you seen a lot of changes in businesses in Marion?
Huhn: Oh, yes. After all, the coming of the malls caused a lot of businesses to close.
Interviewer: Are there large malls in Marion?
Huhn: We only have two malls and by Columbus standards, they’re very small. When
my children come to visit, they like to go to the mall and they find things they
don’t find in Columbus.
Interviewer: What kinds of stores are at your malls?
Huhn: The usual. A drug store, a department store, J.C. Penney’s, Sears, Walden
Books, Hallmark, Radio Shack – that sort of thing.
Interviewer: We’re going to continue our interview with Myrtle Huhn. Just a couple
more questions that I have in terms of Marion to other communities. What about things like
shows? Theaters, concerts, etc.? Do you have those kinds of activities in Marion?
Huhn: We have a beautifully restored Palace Theater. It was one of those that was built
in the 20’s and it is very ornate. It is a beautiful building and it was restored and is a
wonderful showplace. We have a lot of good concerts, travel logs, movies on weekends. Local
groups put on shows at Christmas time and the local Dramatic Society uses it. In fact, the
Mrs. Ohio Pageant will be at the Palace Theater this weekend.
Just to tell you a little about the Temple. We used to have performances put on and the
skits were written by various members of the Congregation. One in particular, Joe
Halberstein, wrote all kinds of reviews with Jewish themes but he’d use all kinds of
music. We’d have a dinner in connection with this kind of entertainment. It
eventually fell by the wayside. He didn’t feel like doing it anymore and ran out of
themes. I did a couple but not to the extent Joe did.
Interviewer: I guess part of the reason I originally asked this question is because
I’m originally from a small town north of here and I remember people from other small
communities would go to Cleveland, Akron, Canton, Columbus for shows. Do the Jewish people
in Marion have those connections as well? Would you come to Columbus for concerts, plays,
Huhn: Oh, yes. Very much so. I get a lot of material in the mail. I also get something
from the Cincinnati Opera which I patronized in the past and they have my name on the
mailing list. We get a lot of information about Columbus activities.
Interviewer: Do you people go to Toledo or Cleveland for activities? Or is that a
little too far?
Huhn: I think that several of our Marion people are affiliated with the Delaware
Orchestra and they play in that.
Interviewer: Can you tell us a little about the Succot you have at the Temple during
Huhn: It always was a kind of rough type of thing. The parents of our Sunday school
children put it up. It came down in pieces and was stored until the next year. The
children made all kinds of things to hang in it along with the fruit and for the service,
we would go out into the Succah and have a little ceremony. But this time, somebody got a
plastic lattice and our custodian was wondering when we’d take it down but it looked
so nice, we left it up. It kind of grew on us.
Simchat Torah is a big thing. All the children come and they wave the paper
flags around. We get a hold of the Torah and those of us who can still dance – and we
dance around in the social hall, passing the Torah around among the various congregants.
We start with the end of the first Torah and start over again with the first Torah. We
have two Torahs – we’re very fortunate.
Interviewer: It sounds like it’s quite meaningful.
Huhn: It’s very meaningful and is a very nice service. I had forgotten about that
when you mentioned the holiday celebrations. On Purim, we have a carnival. We presently
have thirteen members in our youth group and they usually plan and prepare the carnival
for the younger children who participate in the games and food. Sisterhood members fix
hotdogs, chips and drinks.
I forgot to mention “Chanukah Harry.” We have a Judea Shop which is very
successful. Two of our Sisterhood members run it and they get all kinds of merchandise
that other Jewish people would not have access to. They have one Sunday where kids are
allowed to pick out Chanukah presents for their parents. All the parents have to do is
give them the money and then they’ll pick out what they think their parents would
like and the gifts are even gift wrapped at this little shop. We call this “Chanukah
Harry.” I don’t know what the connection is with “Harry” . . .
Interviewer: It sounds like something Lazarus did years ago – shopping for the kids…
Huhn: That’s probably where they got the idea.
Interviewer: I would like to ask you about other long-time residents of the community.
Maybe you can fill us in with some of the names of people who have been here for a number of years.
Huhn: Actually, I’m the oldest around. Some of my contemporaries just passed away in the last year. One of them was Ruth Kleinmeir and she was born in Marion. She lived here most of her life and her parents were merchants who came here in the 19860s. She passed away a year ago in Columbus.
Interviewer: Did she have any survivors in Marion?
Huhn: No, she never married and she had no relatives. All of her family moved away. Her Aunt was married to the first Lazarus. Her name was Marx and she was his first wife. One of her brothers lived in Columbus and he had Burrell’s Nursery. Ruth passed away at Sunrise in Bexley.
Another family was a furrier in Marion. Harry Lurie. Another man, Harold Romanoff, had a jewelry store in Bucyrus. When I mentioned all the small towns around Marion, I forgot Bucyrus which is close to Marion. There is also Sam and Libby Babick, Libby is the person who told you about me.
Interviewer: Are all these people long-time residents?
Huhn: Yes. They came to Marion a couple years after I did, Then Robert Babick, a brother, came to Marion. Their sons are still in Marion and they have families.
Interviewer: What about Harry Lurie? Does he have a family?
Huhn: He has a daughter but she doesn’t live in Marion.
Interviewer: Harold Romanoff?
Huhn: His son lives in Bucyrus.
Interviewer: Can you tell me about industries in Marion?
Huhn: The big industry in Marion was the Marion Power Shovel – now called Dreshler Industries, I believe. They were supposed to have made the post shovel that was used to dig the Panama Canal.
Interviewer: That put them on the map.
Huhn: They also made the tractor that put a man on the moon in Cape Canaveral. It was a big company but when the local people sold out to a bigger company, it was downsized quite a bit. We also have Marion Steel Company and we have what we call the Fulfillment Corp. which mails magazines all over the country. But it’s called Cable now and was taken over by somebody else.
Interviewer: Are any of the Jewish families in Marion associated with the big industries?
Huhn: The Strellets family was quite involved with the Marion Steam Shovel Company. In Fact, Melvin Strellet was their attorney.
Interviewer: Can you tell us a little about businesses that local Jewry are associated with?
Huhn: Ted Babick owns what we call the Depot – western style clothing and everything under the sun including ACE Hardware. It’s a big rambling place out on the highway. Ted’s father started the business and Ted has taken it over. We also have some local attorneys, physicians, etc.
Interviewer: Is there anything I overlooked that we could be covering? I pretty much asked what I had to ask and filled us in beautifully.
Huhn: I would probably be repeating myself if I said that Marion has been a warm and friendly community to me and to my family. My son grew up here, he went to school and graduated from Harding High School. He returns for class reunions all the time and he feels very close to the Marion community.
Interviewer: That says a lot about the Marion community.
Huhn: I forgot one family who I should mention. Their name is Burnbaum. Max Burnbaum, who came from Poland, is a long time resident of Marion. He had three sons and his middle son was killed at Ansio in World War II. The oldest and youngest sons still live in Marion. Isadore Burnbaum, one of the sons, was my co-honorary chairperson at the centennial committee but he’s not in very good health right now. He was very active in the Temple and with the Sunday school.
Interviewer: We need to talk a little bit about your Centennial Celebration and then wind this interview up.
Huhn: Well, it was a busy year and took a lot of meetings. We tried to get our student rabbis to return last May for a special service. Five or six did come back and we heard from a number of them telling us how much they appreciated being connected with Marion. We had a wonderful Friday night service and Saturday morning we had a Shabaton. A bunch of things were discussed, we had Israeli dancing and then we had a big celebration at the country club which included a dinner and a few speeches and awards. I received a plaque. That Sunday, they had a picnic for all the children and their families.
Interviewer: When was this?
Huhn: This was the first week in May. As a climax, we invited the community to a service at the Temple a week from that Saturday. We had it in the morning from 10:00 a.m. until it was over and then had a fellowship afterwards with a reception and lots of food. We had a very good turn-out and response from the general Marion community to whom we had sent invitations. So that kind of climaxed they year.
Interviewer: It sounds like you put a lot of important planning and effort into this and it turned out to be very successful.
Huhn: The Sisterhood raised money to help out – I have to mention that because I’m the Sisterhood treasurer.
Interviewer: How do you feel about anti-Semitism in Marion?
Huhn: I wish I could say that it’s completely gone but we know it’s under the surface. I have never encountered it in Marion like I did when I lived in Chicago. I never looked for it – I have so many non-Jewish friends. Even though I’m the only Jewish member in so many organizations, I never felt like I stood out like a sore thumb. I always felt so welcome. I don’t always welcome the devotions that mention Jesus’ name and a lot of my friends leave that part out in respect to me. At one time, Bible study was required in schools except for the Jewish people. If a family didn’t want their child to attend, the child could leave the class and go someplace and study. But that made the child feel very unhappy and uncomfortable so some of us went along with it. They kept it in Marion for quite a while even after the law prohibited it and then it just disappeared. Of course, now they’re talking about bring school prayers back again.
Interviewer: Do you ever have activities in the Temple that include the rest of the community?
Huhn: We used to do it but we haven’t recently. Of course, there are a lot of inter-faith marriages.
Interviewer: Do you have any idea what the percentages are?
Huhn: It high.
Interviewer: Nationally it about 51%.
Huhn: And those members are more Jewish than we are. They are so devoted to the Temple and the Sunday school and all of our organizations. I can’t speak highly enough of them.
Interviewer: Myrtle, we’re going to bring this interview to a closure. I appreciate the time we’ve spent and I have to say, it’s been a perfect delight to me. I really enjoyed listening to your comments and I’m glad to know about Marion, Ohio. It’s really on the map. Thank you.