Naomi Schottenstein: This is the afternoon of March 18, 1997, and we’re in

Zanesville, Ohio, 462 Military Road, and we’re interviewing Martin Zwelling.
We’re at his home and his wife Katy is with us and we were accompanied this
afternoon by Hinda Riker, Joe Cohen and Jules Duga. They are here because of
their interest in genealogy and Martin we’re going to start by asking you, do
you remember who you were named after?

Zwelling: Yes.

Interviewer: Who were you named after?

Zwelling: My paternal grandfather’s father. The tombstone says “David
ben Mordecai Yitshok”
and my name is Mordecai Yitshok so I can
assume I’m named after him.

Interviewer: Okay, sounds . . . .

Zwelling: I’ve never been told this but it’s pretty obvious.

Interviewer: Yeah it sounds pretty right to me. Where were you born?

Zwelling: Zanesville, Ohio.

Interviewer: You were actually born here?

Zwelling: Yes.

Interviewer: And what year were you born?

Zwelling: 1913.

Interviewer: Okay. So you’ve been in this area all your life? Have you ever
lived out of Zanesville?

Zwelling: Yes.

Interviewer: At what period?

Zwelling: Well I went to school in Athens, Ohio, and in Columbus, Ohio.
Graduated from Ohio State.

Interviewer: Okay.

Zwelling: And I worked for the United States Navy in Cleveland, Ohio after I
was married. Then came back to Zanesville and lived here ever since.

Interviewer: Uh huh. Why did you come back to Zanesville?

Zwelling: It was an accident.

Interviewer: Just an accident?

Zwelling: Yes, I quit the job in Cleveland because I didn’t like the way
the government handled their employees and I came back to Zanesville as a place
to start looking for work. This was my home. Had a place to stay with my parents
until I found a job. And one day, passing by a company that I had been to
before, many years before, they had an opening. I wasn’t even aware. So I was
hired by them. That’s 1941 and I’ve been there ever since.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Zwelling: Retired in 1978.

Interviewer: Well and what kind of work did you do here? You are retired so
what work did you do when you were not retired?

Zwelling: I’m a chemical engineer by my studies and I hired on as a chemist
at Line Material Company at the time, but later changed to McGraw-Edison. And
then I became a manager, the head of all the testing. First chemical testing and
then all electrical testing ’cause the company is an electrical company. Then
later on became Assistant Chief Engineer and then after that, became the
Engineering Manager. And I retired as Engineering Manager.

Interviewer: So you came up the ranks there?

Zwelling: Sure did.

Interviewer: We mentioned your grandfather when we first started. What were,
do you remember the names of your grandparents on your mother’s and your
father’s side?

Zwelling: The last name was, on my mother’s side, was Abrahamovitch,
changed to Abraham, changed to Abrams. And my grandfather’s name was Aaron and
my grandmother’s name was Cyril, C-Y-R-I-L.

Interviewer: And where were they, where did they live? Did they . . . .

Zwelling: They lived here in Zanesville.

Interviewer: Where were they from originally?

Zwelling: They came from Czechoslovakia which became part of the Great
Hungarian Empire, so he always thought of himself as a Hungarian but he actually
was born and lived in Czechoslovakia.

Interviewer: Uh huh. And your . . . .

Zwelling: My mother, his wife I do not know. Probably the same area.

Interviewer: And how about the other side of the . . . .

Zwelling: See they died, my grandfather died before I was born so I never
knew him personally. And my grandmother died when I was four.

Interviewer: Uh huh. This was on your maternal side, your mother’s side?

Zwelling: Yes.

Interviewer: And what about on your other?

Zwelling: On my father’s side? His parents? His father was born in the
Polish Ukraine. He was a Galitzianer and he left home at age 17 and
traveled throughout Europe. Was very familiar with seven Slavic languages. And
his wife was born and lived in Romania and in his travels throughout eastern
Europe, he met her and they settled down in a place called Yasse, a shtetl

on the Prud River, just outside the city of Yasse, Romania.

Interviewer: And did they live in the United States or they lived here?

Zwelling: Yes, they came here in 1905.

Interviewer: Uh huh. Martin, tell me about your siblings, brothers, sisters.

Zwelling: Well there are five of us altogether. The oldest was Arthur and you
may have known him. He lived in Columbus for many years. He died about eight or
nine years ago. And . . . .

Interviewer: Who was he married to? Tell me about his family.

Zwelling: He was married to a Columbus girl named Rebecca. What was her last

Katy: Smoler.

Zwelling: Smoler, yeah. Rebecca Smoler. She still lives there. Has a brother
named Nat Smoler. Maybe you know him. He still lives in Columbus. And . . . .

Interviewer: Then they have children?

Zwelling: He was a businessman. He had his own business along with Lou, what’s
his last name?

Katy: Levin.

Zwelling: Oh yeah, Lou Levin, from which he retired.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Zwelling: And then I was the second born.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Zwelling: And then a girl was born two years after me. Her name was Rosella.
She lived many years in Columbus and married to Joe Eiseman. She died in 1991
and Joe Eiseman now lives in California where his children are.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Zwelling: And then after Rosella, I had another brother named Herbert who’s
five years younger than I. He now lives in Florida. Married a New York girl and
lived in New York for many years and in Connecticut also. And then Shirleyetta .
. . .

Interviewer: Who is married to . . . .

Zwelling: Married to Marvin Silberstein and they both live in Columbus ever
since they married.

Interviewer: Uh huh. Martin can you tell me about any of your other relatives
that maybe lived in Columbus or Zanesville or in the area?

Zwelling: Well in Columbus there were three branches from the Abraham family.
There was the Furmans. That family is all gone; they’ve all died.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Zwelling: But Herman Furman, his wife was my mother’s sister, and he had a
coal business I think in Columbus and Lou Levin, which I also mentioned before,
also worked there.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Zwelling: And then there was the Solove family, Jerome Solove, the father,
and his wife Rae was my mother’s sister also. And they’re also both gone and
they have family still living in Columbus. Al Solove has a very large family,
lives in Columbus in the area. And then there’s Dick, Richard Solove, who
still lives, he lives in Westerville now.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Zwelling: And then there was Bernice, well actually there’s an older sister
. . . .

Katy: Florence.

Zwelling: Florence. She’s between Alvin and Richard and she now lives half
time in Colum- bus and half time in Florida.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Zwelling: And then there’s Bernice who lives full time in Florida. Her
husband is a Colum- bus boy named Goldstein and he has died also since then. Now
in Zanesville, we at one time had a very large family. My grandfather, when he
first came here, you want to hear that story?

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Zwelling: Okay. One of the sons, the oldest son whose name was Max, received
orders for a haircut which he knew was going to be, happen, before he went into
the Romanian Army and he knew getting into the Romanian Army was a death knell
for a Jewish boy actually. So the next morning he was gone. He . . . . for a
year. I mean that they heard of him from America. How he got here he never told
anybody. What transpired in that year’s time he never told anybody so we don’t
know what happened. If you remember the movie, “America, America,”
that gave something like what may have happened to Uncle Max. But anyhow, once
he got here, my grandfather had the three oldest boys trained in the guild
system. Uncle Max was a carpenter. The second boy was Uncle Sam who was a shoe

Interviewer: What was the system you referred to?

Zwelling: Guild.

Interviewer: Oh guild.

Zwelling: European guild system.

Interviewer: Okay.

Zwelling: And there were Jewish guilds as well as Christian guilds. And then
my father was the third son. He was trained to be a tailor. So the oldest boy,
when he got to America, traveled from New York to, well they were looking for
carpenters which was his trade at the time. So he hired onto the BZO
Railroad Company and they sent him to Indiana as a cabinet maker and later on
they built a big repair area here in Zanesville for repairing engines. And he
was sent here to build that plant. It was brand new at the time. What year I don’t
know. He came here in 1895. So he worked and brought over the second son, Uncle
Sam. And then they both worked and brought over the third son which was my
father. And the three of them worked and made enough money to bring over the
whole rest of the family. So the second wave was by 1905. I don’t know what
time Uncle Sam got here but Dad got here about 1903. And the rest of the family
was brought here in 1905. There was my two grandparents and he had two daughters
that were married at the time and one daughter was not married and also one,
two, three sons. They all came to Zanesville. Then later on, I don’t know what
year, half of them moved to Cleveland. But before that time we were quite a
tribe. We had our own minyan . . . . to daven for example and . .
. .

Interviewer: That was the advantage of whole families coming together.

Katy: That’s right.

Zwelling: And Pesach Seder was a big night with all of us at my
grandfather’s house. So . . . . .

Interviewer: You still have the good memories of the celebration?

Zwelling: Oh yes, oh yes. That goes back before . . . . Yeah.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Zwelling: My grandmother always wanted me to sing for her on Pesach.
Anyhow, with the half going to Cleveland, there was still four sons of my
grandfather who stayed in Zanesville and they all worked here and they all were
good workers for the syna- gogue. My grandfather in Europe, he was a mill man.
He ran a corn, milling corn for a Christian and he got paid some of the time
because the Christian owner knew that he wasn’t going to quit. So when he came
to America, he tried to get a job. There was a company here in Zanesville that
did, ground corn, but he was in his 50s by this time and he could not speak
English very well immediately, so they didn’t hire him. So he got, he became a
junkie. His sons bought him a horse and wagon.

Interviewer: Well “junkie” then is not what “junkie”
means now. We better explain what that is.

Zwelling: What’s a “junkie” now?

Interviewer: A drug addict.

Mixed conversation.

Interviewer: Let’s put it in perspective. A junkie means . . . .

Zwelling: He brought, well he knew seven languages, Slavic languages. And
this county was just loaded with farmers who came from Europe and many of them
could not speak English very well. In fact, later on during World War II, I
taught many of them English and how to become an American citizen because of the
war going on. You know back at that time, he took his horse and wagon and
traveled throughout this county and he shmoozed with these farmers and
then whenever they had something to sell in the way of scrap, why he’d buy it
and then bring it back to Zanesville and sell it. He didn’t make hardly any
money. This was more or less of a pastime with my Zayde because he loved
to shmooz and he could speak all these different languages. Mainly Polish
but also he could speak Roman- ian and Russian.

Interviewer: But he was able to make a living being a . . . .

Zwelling: I doubt that. I think his sons mainly supported him.

Interviewer: Oh well that wasn’t unusual either.

Zwelling: No.

Interviewer: We’re going to get back into some more of the subjects that we
touched upon but we’ll continue here to try to keep this path going. Tell us a
little bit about your education, where you were, what schools you went to and .
. . .

Zwelling: Elementary school and high school, junior high and high school in
Zanesville, Ohio. Most of that time, especially during junior high and on, I had
always intended to be an engineer. All my teachers told me I was a born engineer
and so maybe I was. Anyhow I went to Ohio University in . . . .

Interviewer: What were the names of the schools you went to here in

Zwelling: Other schools?

Interviewer: What were the names of the schools at that time?

Zwelling: Oh okay. Elementary school was Hancock Elementary School. But at
the same time I became at that same age that changed to a junior high school so
it became Hancock Junior High. And across the street from there, I went to
senior high which was called Lash High School, Zanesville, Ohio. It became known
later on as plain Zanesville High School. But at that time it was called Lash
High School and I graduated from there in 1931. Went one year to Ohio University
in Civil Engineering and I had always wanted to be a civil engineer and suddenly
after one year of that I no longer wanted to be one. I didn’t care for the
courses. So I changed schools at Ohio University when they had two engineering
degrees, civil and mechanical. They had three, mechanical and electrical and I
didn’t want either of those. So I went to Ohio State and changed over to
chemical and I graduated in chemical engineering in 1935 from Ohio State. And I
should have listened to my daddy. Back then there was a definite prejudice
against Jewish engineers. A Jewish engineer back in my day just could not get a
job. I don’t care how smart you were, how good you were. I had a good record.
But you could not overcome that prejudice until World War II. World War II they
needed engineers, so they started hiring Jewish engineers. But before World War
II it was an impossibility. Virtually impossible. I went through many, many
insults looking for work. So I finally found a job. In the meantime, graduated
in 1935. I went, got a job as a clerk in WPA, Works Progress Administration,
United States Government. And then I decided to be, get involved in music
physics. I went to Connecticut and studied for two months under a retired
professor from Columbia University who taught the subject and decided, I quit
that course. He was a poor church mouse . . . . like a church mouse. And so I
went, not for me any more. And so I quit then came back home, back to

Interviewer: You had an interest in music?

Zwelling: I’ve always had that, yes.

Interviewer: Uh huh. Can you tell us about how you were able to use your
ability, your musical ability? I mean, you sang in . . . .

Zwelling: Well mainly singing. My dad always, our family was musical in the
sense that my dad and mother wanted us to be musical. They all had music
lessons. So I started on the piano when I was about nine years old. For a year
or two I learned the fundamentals of music and then I played a violin until I
was 14 and broke my wrist twice so that ended my violin career. But my dad had
big ideas about my being, playing the violin in some big orchestra somewhere.
But other than that, in World War II, I always sang in shul. I sang in a shul
choir from six years on and I even, so the only, a funny incident about that if
I may relate that is later on after I was married, I was asked by the Reform
Temple in Zanesville to sing at their Friday evening services because the girl
who sang there became ill so I sang there for, I don’t know, several weeks.
Was practically under, people, the other Jews, the Orthodox Jews in Zanesville
wouldn’t talk to me for a while after that.

Interviewer: You went the wrong direction then, huh?

Zwelling: Yeah but then when World War II came, so many people were in the
Army and we had a large city chorus in this town and so I was persuaded to join
them and I became interested in singing. So I sang in the City Chorus. I sang in
a 16-part chorus after that. I sang in a four-part chorus at a Christian church
for a couple of years. And I still sang in shul. I still sang on the High
Holydays after that.

Interviewer: Well you were a diverse musician.

Zwelling: In a way. And I took up the guitar for a while too. I sang with
that, just at home. I didn’t see . . . .

Interviewer: Did you have other hobbies as well or was that, your music and
family, your main interest when you were growing up?

Zwelling: I’m a reader. I read a lot.

Interviewer: What about social activities for youngsters in Zanesville?
Jewish youngsters?

Zwelling: At my time I’d say about zero.

Interviewer: Really?

Zwelling: Except for the synagogue, the synagogue . . . . No they didn’t
have anything like the BBYO in my day, for example. In my son’s day, yes. He
was active in BBYO. But Sunday School.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Zwelling: If you call that social activity. But my parents were shul-goers,
my dad was and so I was trained to go to the synagogue I would imagine before I
was six years old. I sang in the shul when I was six years old.

Interviewer: I’m going to ask you at this point, do you have any
recollections or what were your recollections of the great depression?

Zwelling: (laughter) I was in it.

Interviewer: Right in the throes?

Zwelling: Sure, when I graduated college in 1935 and if you were a Jewish
boy. You could be a Christian boy and still have a bad time. A lot of Christian
boys who graduated with me didn’t get jobs either. And I was probably the last
one to get one. But I didn’t get an engineering job from 1935 ’till 1941.
True engineering job. I would say, yeah, in 1941 I worked seven months with the
government. And then I got my job here in Zanesville and stayed here.

Interviewer: How did your family weather that storm?

Zwelling: Not easily. I don’t think anybody did. Dad had a business. But
Dad was per- suaded by, he did very well. He was a tailor and he made money and
after his tailoring business he opened up a haberdashery and he still made good
money. And he bought property in Zanesville but he bought on margin, I think . .
. . he owed money on it, on the mortgage, and when the depression came, he lost
it all. And on top of that, beside losing it all, he was $30,000 in debt. And
that’s a lot of money in 1930.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Zwelling: So in 1929, 1930, I know that was one reason why my brother Art
didn’t go to college because Art wanted too many things for my dad to be able
to support it so Art didn’t go to college. But he was a successful
businessman. He did make good money. I went to college but I had to go on a

Interviewer: Uh huh. Let’s talk a little bit about during World War II,
military service.

Zwelling: None.

Interviewer: None?

Zwelling: No part of the Army or Air Force or Navy,whatever, would not take
me because I was involved with my company in making war materials. I tried to
volunteer. I mean all my friends were in so I tried to volunteer but I just
couldn’t do it.

Interviewer: So it was more important for you to be . . . .

Zwelling: I was lucky. Well yes, this company, it was an electrical company.
We took on jobs that involved chemistry very much and I was the only chemist
they had.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Zwelling: So I was needed. At least they claimed I did.

Interviewer: Uh huh. Well I’m sure you helped in your way.

Zwelling: Well I did work, that’s for sure.

Interviewer: Yeah. Did you have any other jobs as you were growing up that
you want to . . . .

Zwelling: As a young person?

Interviewer: Yeah.

Zwelling: In high school I worked for my . . . .

Interviewer: Newspapers or anything like that.

Zwelling: As a young person, I don’t recall any, newspaper boy or anything
like that. I worked for my dad pressing pants. Dad . . . . supposed to be
salesman, sells people. And my brother Art was a good salesman and that’s why
he was a suc- cessful businesman. I was not. So that put me in the back where
the press machine was.

Interviewer: Well they needed that help too.

Zwelling: It was all right.

Interviewer: Sure. Do you do any volunteer work now?

Zwelling: Yes I’ve been on the MRDD Board for this county ever since the,
it was initiated back in 1967. I’m still on it.

Interviewer: Tell us what that is.

Zwelling: MRDD is a program set up by the State of Ohio, one of the few
states in America that has programs of this kind, to provide services for those
who are memory retarded and then later on those who were also disabled. So it’s
MRDD, memory retarded and disabled people. And our program provides schooling
and a work- shop. And so our program . . . . and the general public. It’s a
very good program. Ohio has an excellent program and this county is also a very
good one. I was in it. Katy first had it. Katy was a volunteer in the program.
The program was started by parents and Katy knew some of the parents so she
volunteered. She worked for the first few years which was before ’67. And when
they became official, she dropped out and suggested my name and that’s how I
got on.

Interviewer: It certainly is a worthwhile thing to do.

Zwelling: Oh yes. Absolutely.

Interviewer: Let’s go back to a few years ago, and maybe even before you
were married, and tell us about how young people were, you were. Zanesville,
Ohio wasn’t exactly a huge community but how did young people meet? How did
you meet your wife?

Zwelling: Well I was going to Ohio State University. And I had mentioned the
Soloves, and their daughter. My Uncle Jerome, Florence. And Florence and Katy
were close friends and that’s how I met Katy. I always had one good meal a
week. I had two aunts, the Furman aunt and the Solove aunt. And I also had a
cousin who was married to a son of, brother of my mother. And I used to eat over
there occasion- ally also. But every week I was either at the Furman’s house
or the Solove house having a good Shabbos meal.

Interviewer: They took care of you?

Zwelling: And that’s how I met Katy.

Interviewer: And where was Katy educated? In Columbus, Ohio?

Zwelling: Well yes. She came from Canada at the age of five, five-and-a-half.
So she went to all the grade, elementary school and high school in Columbus. She
still has two sisters that live in Columbus.

Interviewer: Who are her sisters?

Zwelling: Ida Rosen and . . . .

Interviewer: Married to Al Rosen?

Zwelling: Married to Al Rosen.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Zwelling: And Leah Wolf whose husband has passed away.

Interviewer: What was his name?

Katy: Roy.

Zwelling: Roy Wolf.

Interviewer: So how old were you both when you got married?

Zwelling: Katy was 21?

Katy: Twenty-three and a half.

Zwelling: Twenty-three and a half. And I was twenty-five and a half, almost

Interviewer: And what year did you get married?

Zwelling: 1939. I did remember that.

Interviewer: Oh okay. You’re off the hook now.

Zwelling: Well . . . . pretty fast and my memory slips now and then.

Interviewer: I can appreciate that.

Zwelling: That’s okay. Go right ahead.

Interviewer: Do you have children?

Zwelling: We had one child, a boy. He died in 1992, cancer. He has a wife and
two children, girls, that survive him. Still live in Denver.

Interviewer: Denver, Colorado?

Zwelling: Denver, Colorado.

Interviewer: And what’s his wife’s name?

Zwelling: Linda.

Interviewer: What was your son’s name?

Zwelling: My son’s name?

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Zwelling: Ronald.

Interviewer: Ronald. And you have two grandchildren?

Zwelling: Yes. One’s graduating from high school this year. Her name is

Katy: Jennifer.

Zwelling: Jennifer Ryan. And the second girl is, she, well she’s a, she’ll
be, she’s 18 now and her sister was 15 and her name is Molly.

Interviewer: Uh huh. Do you get to see them very often? Not often?

Zwelling: Not often enough. Well when my son was ill, he asked us to come and
live with the children, take care of them, while he was in the hospital.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Zwelling: So we got to know them very well during that period. But the older
girl was ten and the younger one was seven at the time so they were pretty young
and they were very active girls in school and also in soccer so they needed a
chauffeur and that was my job and Katy was the chief cook.

Interviewer: You were needed and filled in . . . .

Zwelling: Yeah, sure did. We see them about once a year now.

Interviewer: Yeah. Still pretty far away.

Zwelling: It is.

Interviewer: And the youngsters get involved in their own activities too . .
. . appreciate that.

Zwelling: That’s right

Interviewer: Have you and Katy had opportunities to move to other
communities, or to travel rather to other cities? Have you taken vacations?

Zwelling: To travel? Oh yes. We’ve been pretty much over most of the West.
When Ron was Bar Mitzvah, we took off a full month, four weeks, from
working and went through the full, all the West. We saw all the parks, the
federal parks . . . .

Interviewer: National parks?

Zwelling: in California, at that time. That was 1958. Then we’ve been to
England and Israel twice and Italy. Italy one trip with Israel and England the
other trip.

Interviewer: Uh huh. So you’ve gotten around a little?

Zwelling: A little bit.

Interviewer: Uh huh. Are you content with not traveling now or do you look
forward to traveling . . . .

Zwelling: I’d say at the moment, we’re probably content. We’re still I
would say, in a sense, recovering from Ron’s death.

Interviewer: Yeah, well I’m sure you’ve had a lot of pleasant memories
with your family and with extended families . . . .

Zwelling: We still want to go to Israel again and we may still do that. That’s
not out of the question.

Interviewe: Remind me to talk to you about that in a little bit. I have an
opportunity for you.

Zwelling: Okay.

Interviewer: How about some of the get-togethers you may have had with other
family members during your . . . .

Zwelling: Oh many. I have a lot of good memories back when I was a boy. My
dad had his first car about 1919, 1920, something like that. And we traveled, I
mean, those were great days with these cars of that day. Sedans. Sedans, you had
Isinglass on the sides which you had on hooks, just open. And wintertime, you
didn’t drive so you parked. You took all the wheels off and greased up the
hubs and put them up on concretes and . . . . the engine and like you. Like
people today store their lawnmowers, well we did that with cars back in my dad’s

Interviewer: Why didn’t you drive it? What was . . . .

Zwelling: Because winter conditions were not good for automobiles back in
those days. Not only the roads were bad. They at least were not good. But also
hard on cars. You don’t see people cutting grass in the wintertime either.

Interviewer: You didn’t have heating?

Zwelling: We had the Interurban. But mostly we traveled to Columbus I would
say fairly frequently, even in the wintertime when it was cold. That was a
tradition also. My mother would take bricks and put them in the oven and they
would be heated all night and the next morning the kids would be put on the back
seat and our seat would be on the bricks and we’d have cloth on top of us and
so that kept us warm on the ride to Columbus.

Interviewer: So that was the heating?

Zwelling: That was the heating, yeah. You didn’t have heaters back then.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Zwelling: And the biggest thrill of all when we went to Cleveland to see the
Cleveland branch. Now they had no roads that were marked with numbers. All you
knew back then was you had a map with the different villages in between. So you
went to one village and then another one and if that was the wrong number, you
came back to that one and tried another route. So going to Cleveland took the
entire day. And we had two cars. That’s the whole family, the Zanesville
group. It was a great day.

Interviewer: And you would travel together in the two cars?

Zwelling: Yeah. It was a family trip, a family adventure.

Interviewer: It sounds like it. Uh huh.

Zwelling: Oh yeah. If we got lost the other car would know it and honk his
horn until we got the other car stopped and retrace our steps. It was back and
forth all . . . . to Cleveland.

Interviewer: You got to know the communities along the way?

Zwelling: Well I don’t remember them . . . . I was fairly young back then.
That was back in the early 20s so I was not even Bar Mitzvah yet.

Interviewer: So when you traveled from here to Cleveland, it was like a
couple of days’ excur- sion.

Zwelling: Well we got there in one full day, from sun-up to sundown.,
roughly. Well Cleveland took us two, I mean Columbus took us two hours.

Interviewer: Is that right.

Zwelling: It was two-hour trip back then in the 20s. Yeah.

Interviewer: Well not everybody had cars and it was in the wintertime so if
you didn’t go by car, was there a public transportation, some other way?

Zwelling: It was an interurban train that went to Columbus. I don’t recall
using it so you probably didn’t visit in the hard winter. Early winter and
early Spring, we prob- ably went there but we did have, we did go in cold
weather at times. But if it snowed, we didn’t go at all.

Interviewer: Was your family a very traditional Jewish family?

Zwelling: Yes.

Interviewer: You kept . . . .

Zwelling: On both sides of the family. My father was, my father’s family
was Orthodox and so was my mother’s.

Interviewer: So did your parents keep kosher for instance?

Zwelling: Yes.

Interviewer: Uh huh. And how were they . . . .

Zwelling: Well that was all limited to Zanesville. The rabbis back then were
hired if they had experience as a shechet.



Interviewer: Shechet?

Zwelling: Yeah. I can remember, the first shul I recall was on Sixth
Street, which no longer is there. And the Hebrew School was an extra building,
just one room on the back of the shul. And we had outside toilets. And
also outside in that yard, the rabbi shechted these chickens. But he also
shechted beef locally so we got all our meat in Zanesville.

Interviewer: So you didn’t have to come to Columbus for . . . .

Zwelling: No, not for food.

Interviewer: Uh huh. What about Passover? How did they manage?

Zwelling: Well you didn’t have back then all the commercial foods that you
have today. We would go out to the country, my mother would go out to the
country and a farmer there would provide milk for us right fresh from the cow.
And we had eggs from that farmer also. And with shechted meat here and
the eggs and we made, my mother made her own matzo We didn’t buy matzo. She
made matzo.

Interviewer: So you didn’t have all the fancy-shmantzy things you have

Zwelling: No that’s right. We really practiced Pesach back then. It
was the real stuff. Had complete sets of dishes, everything. It was Orthodox.

Interviewer: Well you mentioned something a little while ago about big
Seders. You had family celebrations?

Zwelling: Oh yeah. When my grandfather was living, we all had a Seder with
the four sons in Zanesville. So you had five families, five. We had four
families with children and then also my grandparents.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Zwelling: In my grandparents’ home.

Interviewer: Then how about the other holidays, Rosh Hashonah and Yom Kippur?

Zwelling: I don’t recall meeting in other homes. We practiced those in our
own home as I recall it. And we had it when it was, as you recall back in those
days, they had a Shabbos goy who would turn the lights off and on. In
fact I recall as a boy, we had gas lamps for light in our first home.

Interviewer: Well that wasn’t too long ago. I can remember those too.

Zwelling: Do you?

Interviewer: Can you tell us anything about your Bar Mitzvah?

Zwelling: Yeah, I was scared to death. For one thing, back then I was . . . .

Interviewer: It hasn’t changed, Martin. It’s still that way.

Zwelling: Yeah but I had it worse than others. I was a very bad stutterer and
making my Shabbas, my Bar Mitzvah speech was holy Hell. Holy Hell.

Interviewer: But the nice voice didn’t make up for it?

Zwelling: I didn’t sing. Well I sang my mofter, my, but otherwise,

Interviewer: Yeah. But you got through it?

Zwelling: Yeah I got through it. I don’t recall anything special other than
the Hell I went through that morning.

Interviewer: I don’t think they celebrated Bar Mitzvahs then like
they do now anyhow. It’s was just . . . .

Zwelling: Not as great but yes we did. We got presents, I mean and we had a
reception in the basement after the services. And I do not recall but we may
have had a big family dinner that night on Saturday, but I don’t remember
that. Probably we did.

Interviewer: Let’s go back just a little or just kind of tie in with
political events. Do you remember, you know, how things were when the war
started, when World War II ended? Do you remember any of those kinds of events
that you can share with us?

Zwelling: Well before World War started, I would imagine that I taught a
class at the Elks Club here in Zanesville, stirred up some war movement by
offering a class teaching, they wanted, they went through this whole county to
get farmers here who came from Europe. They were in the county as long as 25 or
30 years and they still were not American citizens. They could speak English.
They learned that much. But they never became citizens. And so they had a class
in Citizen- ship and I taught that class. In fact, I became a school teacher at
one time in my career after I graduated college and couldn’t get work as an
engineer. WPA had a system that if you had a degree from college, any degree, it
didn’t matter, and could get 12 people to sit down and listen to you, you
could teach any subject you wanted to and they would pay you. And when I got
married, I mentioned being a clerk. It just so happened that one month after I
was married, the head man of this county on the WPA was fired and he fired
everybody who had a good job. I had a good job at the time in the sense that I
was the head of the tool crib, of all the tools in this county on WPA. So I lost
my job. We were only married for a month. And all I could get after that was
this teaching job and that’s what I, I taught school, I taught. At that same
time, which was 1939, there were a lot of people from Europe, Jews that came
during the Hitler period. And we had quite a large group of those. So I taught
them the English language and citizenship. And then I taught at the Elks Club, I
taught these Christian farmers in this county citizenship and how to become
American citizens. I remember my first night before the Christians. I had to
tell them who I was to start with. “My name is Martin Zwelling”. And
one old man in the front row says, ” Say . . . . old man with white
beard?” And I said, “That’s my grandfather.” And he said,
“You’re all right.”

Interviewer: You were in.

Zwelling: I was in. But the German Jews were here. There was quite a large
number of them. And they were here for several years. None of them are here
today. But we still maintain friends who were the last one of two families that
we knew very well then and now living in Florida. Both Katy and I socialized to
a great degree with the German people who came here. They were all fine people.

Interviewer: German Jews?

Zwelling: German Jews.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Zwelling: We became . . . .

Interviewer: There was a big separation wasn’t there with the German Jews
and the Polish . . . .

Zwelling: Back in my mother’s day yeah. Yeah. My mother always spoke of the
Deitches. The Deitches were no good. I remember that. Of course she grew up in
Zanesville. But I knew, I have known, even back when I was a boy, many people
who belonged to the Reform Temple. . . . At my age, I had a couple of friends
whose parents went to. But then later on, about 1958-’59, the Reform Temple
and the Orthodox synagogue, it was a Conservative synagogue, joined, became one
congregation which remained Conservative, which it is still to this day. Some of
them quit, Reform people that is, quit and joined Temple Israel in Columbus.

Intwerviewer: Uh huh. Actually Martin, I think that the focus of this
interview builds up to the synagogue here in Zanesville. I know it’s still an
ongoing synagogue and we have some information that I’ve kind of looked
through and I’m going to ask you to fill us in on that, but I’m going to
stop this tape at this moment and turn it to the other side. This is pretty much
the end of the first side of the tape so let’s just hold on a minute and we’ll
turn this over.

Okay, we’re on the other side of the tape now Martin. Let’s kind of build
up the picture of the synagogue situation here in Zanesville. I’ve gotten this
information about the cornerstone and ground-breaking of the present temple and
do you remember when the synagogues in Zanesville were first started? Which was
the first house of worship, Jewish house of worship in Zanesville?

Zwelling: This congregation had its first place of worship on the third floor
of a building that still stands on the corner of Seventh and Main Street in

Interviewer: What’s the name of this congregation that you’re talking

Zwelling: It’s still the same as it is now, Beth Abraham.

Interviewer: Beth Abraham?

Zwelling: That was the Hungarian congregation and they had Shabbos

services on the third floor of that building. I don’t remember that but I have
read about it.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Zwelling: And then the first shul that was built here was on Sixth
Street, which was still the same congregation, and I do remember it. I went to
Hebrew School there. I went to Hebrew School when I was five years old. Then in
19–, but I can give the date of 1924 which is mentioned in that book, of when
they moved to Seventh Street. With that building is still there but now a
theater group has it and it still hides what’s one of the most beautiful parts
of that shul. It had very beautiful, not Gothic, the rabbi at that
time, who came from England, name was Rabbi Rosen- berg. He was my Bar
rabbi. He came, I know he left Zanesville around 1905 or something
like that. And I don’t know why. But he got paid, not always, some cash and
some other things like chickens and whatever. Part cash and part produce that he
could use.

Interviewer: Uh huh. That’s called bartering.

Zwelling: Yes. And he went to Indiana. Then he came back years later. So I
would guess he came back probably around 1920 perhaps. I was Bar Mitzvah
in 1923. He died in 1927. I knew him well. I knew his sons very well. There’s
a book written by Bill Manners, who’s really, his name is Bill Rosenberg,
called My Father and the Angels, and it’s
all about Zanesville. Want to know about Zanesville, read this book.

Interviewer: Hmmm. That’s interesting.

Zwelling: The boys I knew, the rabbi had at that time living in Zanesville
with him, three sons. Bill was the oldest and there was one, two of them
younger, one of them a year older than I. And I remember going to shul at
the shul on Seventh Street, listening up the older boys like they were
Gods, when they talked about many different, I knew nothing about: music, art,
history, archaeology. And so I went to shul and listened to those three
brothers most of the time. And the older boy was a prize fighter. I witnessed my
first lesson in keeping the Shabbos. Bill was a prize fighter and one day
he took on a fight on Friday night. Don’t forget now, his father is Orthodox.
The next morning Bill came to shul. He had two black eyes and puffed ears
and he had to listen to his father give a sermon which he never gave on Shabbos
morning, never until this one day. ‘Cause I was there and I heard it, about
the sin of breaking, violating the Shabbos. And Bill had to sit there and
listen to it, which he did.

Interviewer: Did you ever hear any more discussion about what happened Friday
night before?

Zwelling: No. You mean as far as the Rosenbergs were concerned?

Interviewer: Yeah.

Zwelling: No. I knew them very well. My mother was their good friend, the
rabbi’s wife and let’s see, I think only one of them’s still living, that’s
the youngest one whose name is David. His name is now David Manners also. Bill
and Dave both became authors. They wrote books, mostly what they called the pulp
grade, fiction stories. And then they became, they wrote books on “How
to,” how to build a house and . . . .

Interviewer: What was that first word that you said? They wrote books on . .
. .

Zwelling: Called the “pulp”. Back then they used to have pulp
magazines about the wild west . . . .

Interviewer: How do you spell it?

Zwelling: P-U-L-P, pulp, yeah. Junk.

Interviewer: Okay.

Zwelling: I read many, I grew up on pulp to tell you the truth about it. I
learned a good vocabulary reading pulp. Anyhow Bill and David collaborated on
many “how to” books which I haven’t read. And the middle one, I can’t
think of his name right now, became a school teacher. And the last heard of, he
was in Florida. I don’t know whether he’s still living now or not. I know
Bill died. Dave is still living.

Interviewer: Well it sounds like they were an important part of your life.

Zwelling: Yes they really were. I mean the rabbi was a special thing to me. I
mean, I was reared to respect not only your elders but rabbis.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Zwelling: And Rabbi Rosenberg was my teacher. He taught me in Hebrew School
and he taught me my Bar Mitzvah. And I knew him up to the day he died.

Interviewer: In this literature that we’ve gotten here, it shows that
actually the first congre- gation was Keneset Israel and it was
organized, and that was organized around 1870-1872. And it sounds like they
probably were German names, Dreyfus and . . . . .

Zwelling: Keneset Israel is the Reform Temple and that’s not the

Interviewer: There was temple before that?

Zwelling: Well the cornerstone on Seventh Street, which was built in 1924
made, had a letter in it by the originators. And names in that group — do you
have a copy of that letter? Don’t have it?

Interviewer: I don’t think we have a copy of the latter, no.

Zwelling: Well this letter mentions that they had a Jewish congregation in
Zanesville before you had one in Columbus. But I can’t verify that but they
did make that claim in this letter. And they listed all the members and I also
noticed that in that listing of membership there was two or three of them that
started a Reform temple, Keneset Israel.

Interviewer: Uh huh. Yeah, the names we have . . . .

Zwelling: Seidenfeld is one of them.

Interviewer: Schoenfeld and Dreyfus.

Zwelling: Wolf. Dreyfus is another one. They were also members of the
original Hungarian congregation, from which came the Reform temple.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Zwelling: I remember those two names in particular.

Interviewer: Why, what brings Jews, do you know what brought Jews to
Zanesville originally? We’re talking about the 1800s. Sounds like the German
Jews became . . . .

Zwelling: Well I think the first big migration from Europe was the Germans.
They came here in the early 1850s and on and then later on in the 1890s and
throughout the 20s, Eastern Europe had, well a million Jews come over here
during that period practically every year. And that’s when the Zwellings came
here. But the Abra- hams were here, they were with the German group but they
were really Orthodox people from what was then at that time Hungary. The Great
Hungarian Empire, if you recall your history, included Hungary, Czechoslovakia,
all the middle Europe part and then that big migration was in the 50s, if I
recall my history right. And so Eastern Europe, the eastern Jews were looked
down upon by the German Jews because they were largely uneducated. My father and
his siblings were unedu- cated. My dad was given by his father to a tailor who
belonged to the Jewish Guild, where he learned his craft of being a tailor. My
dad lived with that tailor all week until Shabbos. He went to his home on
Friday afternoon and he came back on Saturday night.

Interviewer: So it was like vocational training it sounds like, a guild?

Zwelling: Yeah he went to a sort of a Hebrew School but not very often
because he was busy. Before he was nine years old he went to Hebrew School, but
after nine years of age he was working, learning how to be a tailor.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Zwelling: At the age of 17, he left to come to America. That’s a pretty
good story too. My father was a group of youngsters, teen-agers and there was
an, Dad told me, an elder man in his 50s, was their leader. And they were boys
and girls. I don’t know how many but they were all teen-agers and they walked
from eastern Romania to the coast of France. Took them a year to get here.

Interviewer: Hmmm. I think what we’re trying to establish is what really
brought, even the first . . . .

Zwelling: Well most Jews? Yeah, liberation.

Interviewer: No but I mean, why Zanesville? What was the attraction? Why didn’t
they settle in Columbus or Newark or whatever?

Zwelling: Oh. Okay. Because my Uncle Max was the first one that came here,
who left Romania because he had to go into the Romanian Army. He was a carpenter
and he was sent here by the company he worked for, a railroad company, to build
a big round table repair shop for engines. That was one of the biggest things
they had here in this area of Ohio. The location’s still there but the round
table . . . .

Katy: The roundhouse.

Zwelling: The roundhouse, yeah. I remember having seen it. But my uncle
helped to build it.

Interviewer: Was the roundhouse like a station that . . . .

Zwelling: It was a big round building and in the center of it was a sort of a
round table where a railroad went on it and they could rotate that . . . .

Interviewer: Like a turn-around?

Zwelling: Yeah. Well they could work on it and they were underground beneath
that so they could work up on the engine in different places. It was essentially
a repair place. Like in the early days of automobiles, you didn’t have lifts.
You had a place to build the car up and you dug a hole in the ground where you
coud get under the car and work on it. And that was the same concept as the
roundhouse for railroad engines.

Interviewer: So that was really the attraction that brought . . . .

Zwelling: Yeah he came to Zanesville, as I mentioned before, he worked,
brought over the second boy. They worked, brought over the third boy and they
worked and brought over the rest of the family. And they all got here. He got
here in 1895 and they all got here by 1905.

Interviewer: We’re going to get in, a little more into the development of Beth
. But at one point you mentioned something about five synagogues,
five different houses of worship.

Zwelling: Well that’s because, my dad I guess was a big shmooser. I
remember him talking a lot about his home. That’s where I know all about
Europe. From my dad and his family. And sometime later than that my son’s wife
asked me to write a story of the family so her children could know where they
came from. So I wrote a family history. I didn’t just make a family tree. I
wrote a story about the family. And as far as the Zwellings are concerned, I
wrote all about what my dad told me when I was a little boy. And so I know all
about his father and his life in Europe, part of it. My dad’s father, my
grandfather, was a one-man police force in his shtettel. He was a big
man, six foot-two and weighed 250 pounds. Am I talking out of turn now?

Interviewer: No, no. I just, at this point I just wanted to ask you if you,
do you have a copy of this book that you wrote?

Zwelling: Somewhere. It’s not a book . . . .

Interviewer: Or statement.

Zwelling: You mean about the Zwellings? . . . .

Interviewer: Do you think you can get a copy for us to put in our archives?

Zwelling: Yes.

Interviewer: You’ll have to look it up right?

Zwelling: I can’t give it to you now. Part of it disappeared but I know I’ve
got a copy some . . . . I sent copies to my whole family so I won’t have a
problem getting a copy but right now I don’t have a copy here.

Interviewer: Well we’ll work on that. We’ll work on that.

Zwelling: I got a copy. I’ll have to work on it . . . .

Interviewer: Well let’s get back into the establishment of all these
synagogues here that . . . .

Zwelling: Okay. My dad told me when he came here, there were five
congregations and they were all ethnic, depending where they came from Europe.
One of them, the Polish group was Rodeph, their name, would you mind, I
want to ask Kate a question. See that book over there? Would you mind bringing
that to me? On the floor?

Interviewer: Martin while she’s getting that . . . .

Zwelling: No, no, no, no, no, no.

Interviewer: On the floor.

Zwelling: On the floor.

Interviewer: Do you have any idea about maybe how many Jewish families or
Jewish people were in Zanesville at this . . . .

Zwelling: In 1905?

Interviewer: When your . . . .

Zwelling: In 1905? That’s the book we’re talking about. Yeah. This is
something else.

Interviewer: Yeah Martin has the whole book here . . . .

Zwelling: Yeah.

Interviewer: Beth Abraham.



Zwelling: In 1905, it had to be a guess. I really don’t know. I hope to
know that some day because I myself am interested in genealogy and just before
my son died I was working almost every afternoon at the library here. And then
when Ron died I got interested in medicine so I’ve been writing on medicine
ever since then. I hope to get back to it some day. But…

Interviewer: Do you know how many Jewish people are in town . . . . now?

Zwelling: Today? Today I would say the Jewish families in Zanesville and
Cambridge, probably around 40.

Interviewer: Families?

Zwelling: Families.

Interviewer: Uh huh. Now today we have just the one congregation. Is that

Zwelling: That’s correct.

Interviewer: Beth Abraham.

Zwelling: Yeah, I want to get this letter. There was a name, a reference to
that Polish con- gregation and they joined the Hungarians and joined before they
built their first shul on Sixth Street. Now this gives a listing of all
the members in that congrega- tion. Too bad they didn’t send you a copy of
that. But I can get copies of that, you know, I can get Xerox. You’ll be
interested in knowing who was members of that congregation back in 1864. You
mentioned 1872. They, this letter was dated 1864 and they say in this letter
that they had a Jewish community here before you had one in Columbus. Whatever
that means I don’t know. But there are names here like Marcus Weinberg, Wolf
Dreyfus . . . .

Interviewer: Yeah, some of those names came up . . . .

Zwelling: Englander, Schoenfeld. Those were all members of the temple,
probably eight or ten years later.

Interviewer: All right, so there were five at that time and then eventually
they dwindled. How did they narrow down?

Zwelling: Well some of them may have joined this con—. They only mentioned
one congre- gation that did join. Wasn’t before 1864, before, and who the
other three was, I don’t know. If I had continued in my studies with the
records that we have, I would have come across them. I know that the cemetery
was purchased in 1873. Prior to that they had a burial society.

Interviewer: A what?

Zwelling: A burial society. Almost all Jews, they get together in any shtellel
or village, have number one, a burial society. Number two they have a
congregation. But you always have a burial society first.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Zwelling: That’s history.

Interviewer: So the burial society was real important . . . .

Zwelling: There was one here. I don’t recall its name. But there’s a
record of it in the library.***

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Voice: Excuse me. That burial society, do you use that same cemetery . . . .

Zwelling: I don’t know.

Interviewer: Okay.

Zwelling: But in 1873, they had three portions, three areas. One for Reform
Jews, one for the Hungarian congregation, and one for Rodeph Shalom, the
Polish congregation. Later on Rodeph Shalom joined the Hungarians under
the name of Beth Abraham. That’s mentioned in that letter.

Interviewer: Oh so that’s how Beth Abraham developed then?

Zwelling: Well before that.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Zwelling: I don’t know what year they formed because they had this one
place where they worshipped on Shabbos at a place in downtown. But before
that, that’s what all the other congregations did. Somewhere in the record, I’m
sure it will show up, where they all had a place to worship, all five of them.

Interviewer: Uh huh. Well we’ve got some real good printed material here
that I’m sure will be, hopefully will become part of our archives as well.

Zwelling: You want copies of that, those two pages?

Voice: We’ll talk about that later.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Zwelling: Okay.

Interviewer: We’ll get into this. Can you recall how, as a synagogue, you
were able, the syna- gogues were able to, I know you were active in the Beth
Congregation, how you were able to maintain, financially maintain
the synagogue. Or is that still a struggle?

Zwelling: No not today. But then they were mostly in debt as I recall.

Interviewer: That’s how . . . .

Zwelling: I think almost every year they were in debt and they had to go to
their richest members and ask them for more money. And they usually, they
maintained the place. And on the High Holydays, back in the days, everything was
for sale back then. I mean, you went, on the High Holydays if you went up to the
bema for, for . . . .

Interviewer: An aliyah?

Zwelling: for an aliyah, they had an arrangement where you had to, you
were really buying it. You had to give a contribution. And the secretary had
some system, it was my Uncle Sam I remember, he had some system, he had a book
up there and somehow he would record this. I think he had tabs of a different
number and he would put that tab over at that person’s name and when they’d
contribute for the High Holy- days.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Zwelling: For Rosh Hashonah and Yom Kippur. On Yom Kippur eve they always had
a prayer where they gave an oration for money for coal, for lights, whatever.
Now we don’t do it any more.

Interviewer: No but that system seems to have taken hold ’cause that’s
how they do the bond drive in Columbus

Zwelling: Yeah it works.

Interviewer: . . . .

Zwelling: It works. They kept alive all that time, but they were always in

Interviewer: Are there some of the same families that are with the synagogue
that have been there for many years? Obviously you, your family is one. What are
some of the other families? Who are some of the other ones?

Zwelling: Well Goodman, Goodman was mentioned in that letter.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Zwelling: And there’s a Jerome Goodman still lives here and one of his

Interviewer: And they’re still actively involved in helping to support the

Zwelling: The son is mainly.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Zwelling: Yeah. Not the father.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Zwelling: Some but not too much. And we have some old families who settled
here, their fathers went into business and they still maintain their businesses.
One is the Joseph family.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Zwelling: And they were and still are in the scrap iron business and the
Goldstein family, there’s only one girl still left of them and they had, along
with Gold–, can’t think of the name now, but the Goldsteins were here when I,
in fact my family and theirs were very close. We seemed to have members about
the same age. It was Barney Goldstein who was very close to me. He died a couple
of years ago. And my kid brother Herbert was very close to Barney’s younger
brother who died in 1935. And the daughters are still close to both of us. We
still correspond with Thea . . . . correspond with two daughters, the one in,
outside Washington, D.C. and one in Florida.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Zwelling: So there’s only the one member still left of that family.

Interviewer: What about, I happen to know the Rogovin family.

Zwelling: They, yeah they’ve been here a long time but they were mostly in
Cambridge. Herman Rogivin is probably the elder one here. No he has a brother
who’s older than he is that still lives in Cambridge, Ted, Ted Rogovin. Their
father was in Cambridge as far back as I can remember.

Interviewer: What was his name?

Voice: Sam.

Zwelling: Sam, yeah. That’s right. You knew him?

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Voice: Sam Rogivin is my brother-in-law.

Zwelling: Oh I see. And . . . .

Interviewer: What do you think brought them, you mentioned Cambridge and the
Rogovins, why, what do you think brought the Rogovins to Cambridge? That’s
just a little, little community?

Zwelling: I really don’t know but I would say, generally speaking, don’t
forget, America had the streets lined with gold. The gold medina and all of us
came here because for one thing they were injured or hurt by their neighbors in
Europe. They had no friends in Europe, that’s for sure, who were non-Jews.

Interviewer: Uh huh. Well we know why they left.

Zwelling: Yeah but when they came here, they settled mainly for different
business reasons. Almost every village in this State of Ohio had Jews.

Interviewer: We’re finding that out.

Zwelling: My mother had a very close friend, her father is listed in that
list of members, who lived in Dresden, Ohio. That’s 15 miles away from here.
But my grandfather on my mother’s side was a one-man department store. He was
what was known very frequently in America, was a pack salesman. He carried a
pack on his back. Every morning he would get up and go down to the railroad. It
would take him to, Ohio was laced with what they called small-gauge railroad
system. Not the standards that we have today. And all these villages were tied
together by this small-gauge railroad system. And my zayde on my mother’s
side would pack up his bag every morning, go down to the railroad station and go
to a different village every day. He’d spend the day there walking down the
streets and selling his wares. He died in, before I was born. I never knew him.
But he was a department store. And that was a frequent thing in America I
believe. So it was to make a living.

Interviewer: Sure.

Zwelling: Whether they . . . . to find a job or start a business, I think
that’s what happened to them.

Interviewer: Right. Do you know how many families, well I think you mentioned
the number of families. And do all, do you think that all the Jewish community
and things that belong to Beth Abraham, do you think that some of them
are not affiliated at all? Or do some of them belong . . . .

Zwelling: I would guess there’s plenty of them unaffiliated. Zanesville is
a very large medical center, Southeastern Ohio. They probably handle anything
you can handle in Columbus actually. And a lot of Jewish men in the medical
fraternity. There’s a cut–, we have doctors that belong and we have a couple
other people who belong. They’re not really largely too active.

Interviewer: What’s the rabbi situation here? Do you have a permanent

Zwelling: Yes, he’s a Columbus man. His name is Elson.

Interviewer: Elson?

Zwelling: Elson. He lives in Pickerington. His wife is the, I think his wife
is the Educational Director of the Reform temple in Columbus.

Interviewer: Uh huh. So he . . . .

Zwelling: Temple Israel. She is the Educational Director there. And we hired
him. We had full-time rabbis here but over the years it became increasingly more
difficult to find one because in the meantime we’d been shrinking in
membership and haven’t got the money we used to have. And so Rabbi Elson was
handy, recommended to us, so we hired him and he’s I would say, what, four or
five years ago. He’s still here, doing well.

Interviewer: So he goes back and forth?

Zwelling: Yes.

Interviewer: His home’s still in . . . .

Zwelling: Almost daily.

Interviewer: Is that right?

Zwelling: Uh hum. He teaches Hebrew on Wednesdays and I think one day his
office is open, anybody who wants to come here and talk to him. And other
occasions, he comes, he’s here quite frequently.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Zwelling: He’s a member of the Ministerial Association here in Zanesville
as well.

Interviewer: Who’s the family you were just talking about, this . . . .

Zwelling: Ballas. Max is the one started the business but they have a very
large manu- facturing plant in Zanesville which the son and the grandson are
operating today. Max that is. Max was a very religious person, probably well
known in Columbus, Ohio, because he was a member of any shul within 50
miles of Zanesville, Ohio. But the oldest broth–, one of his sons is named
Leonard, still here. And Leonard has a son named Craig who’s presently the
president of our syna–, of our congregation. But they’ve been in the egg
business. They manufacture egg products, egg powder mainly was their original
manufacture. This is rather a large company today.

Interviewer: So they must ship out?

Zwelling: Fills up a big spot in Zanesville.

Interviewer: They must ship out to many places?

Zwelling: Probably all over America.

Interviewer: Yeah. Is there any more that you can add in regard to the Jewish
community? Do you feel like we’ve pretty much covered the picture of the
development of Beth Abraham and synagogue? What about Sisterhood and
Brotherhood? Do they have . . . .

Zwelling: Brotherhood, we never had a strong one. Today it’s non-existent.
The Sisterhood was always strong and still is. They still have Sisterhood
meetings every month. Katy’s a member. Do you pay? Huh?

(Mixed undecipherable dialogue, partly off-mike.)

Well it is accurate. They have a President and they have officers and they
meet monthly during part of the year, I don’t know which part.

Interviewer: How it’s convenient, when it’s convenient. Do they have
regular services every Shabbos?

Zwelling: We have service every Shabbos and holidays, yes.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Zwelling: We have a Purim dinner coming up this Saturday, just for example.

Interviewer: Uh huh.

Zwelling: Almost all the Jewish holidays have some activity. Sometimes we
still have dinners.

Interviewer: Well that brings the community together.

Zwelling: Still don’t have the activity we had when I was a boy.

Voice: You still have the annual Second Night Seder?

Zwelling: What do you mean by “still”? You mean my family?

Voice: No . . . .

Zwelling: You mean the Zanesville, does anyone have it here? Yes.

Voice: They used to have one at shul.

Zwelling: You mean shul, second night?

Katy: No.

Zwelling: No I didn’t know that.

Voice: Yeah I went to it.

Zwelling: First night.

Voice: Oh it was the first night. Do they still have that?

Katy: First night.

Zwelling: That’s what I thought. No, no. Did we have it last year? I don’t
think so. I don’t recall they did.

Interviewer: Well things change through the years. You know, there’s a
different need . . . .

Zwelling: Well I don’t think we’re as active today in any way that we
were many years ago. At least that’s certain, you know.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Zwelling: But it’s a small town. We don’t have many members. We still
have difficulty having a minyan. And I think that’s largely true
throughout America in small towns. When you consider the Jews back in my dad’s
day were present in every village in this state, they all had Jewish presence
because all the businesses were Jewish. Now that’s gone. We had Jews in
Dresden and Coshocton and Cam- bridge. Cambridge still has some of them who live
there but they don’t have a Jewish activity there. And that’s all gone and
they’re centered to some extent in small towns like Zanesville, Ohio, and
Newark. Lancaster doesn’t have a shul any more. Newark I don’t think
has a shul but I think they have somebody coming in . . . .

Voice: It has a shul.

Zwelling: Yeah but that’s evaporating also.

Interviewer: You mentioned some of the small communities that are part of the
Zanesville Jewish community: Dresden, Cambridge . . . .

Voice: Coshocton.

Interviewer: Coshocton.

Zwelling: Coshocton. Coshocton had Jews at one time. It had several Jewish
families. But there’s none there today. Dresden has none today. We had people,
we always had a big time on Yom Kippur. We had a dance on Yom Kippur night and
we had people come in from all these small towns throughout southeastern Ohio.
Down as far as Athens, Ohio, even came up here. From Columbus they came to
Zanes- ville for that dance.

Interviewer: Uh huh. Well Martin, I think I’m going to start wrapping up

Zwelling: Okay.

Interviewer: And I want to thank you on behalf of the Columbus Jewish
Historical Society and it’s been a real interest talking to you and I
appreciate the time that you and Katy have given us and we’ve enjoyed talking
with you and you’ve given us a lot of valuable information. Thank you.

Zwelling: I’m glad you came. I enjoyed being a part of it really.

The Columbus Jewish Historical Society Library contains a history of
Congegation Beth Abraham in closed reserve, call letters GZ1.

* * *

Transcribed by Honey Abramson