Bruce Isaacson was born in 1956 in Castro Valley, California to Betty Griffin and Bernard Isaacson, and spent his childhood in Oakland. He received his bachelor?s degree from Claremont McKenna College with majors in economics as well as drama, and continued studying for his Masters of Business Administration at Dartmouth College. After receiving his MBA, Isaacson started a career in finance, focusing on mergers and acquisitions. In 1995, he moved to Las Vegas to pursue a real estate career alongside his father. In June 2015, Isaacson became Clark Country?s first poet laureate to encourage poetry as an art form in Southern Nevada. Although Isaacson began writing poetry at a young age, he wanted to develop his craft further. So he attended Brooklyn College for a Masters of Fine Arts and studied with famed poet Allen Ginsberg. Isaacson is known in the San Francisco Bay Area as organizer and poet in the Cafe Babar readings in the 1980s. He is also a co-founder of Zeitgeist Press, where he remains publisher and co-editor. In this interview, Isaacson discusses his childhood and how he maneuvered his career path from finance into poetry. He talks about applying for and serving as the county?s first poet laureate, and describes the programing he?s started in this capacity. Isaacson also speaks about his earlier involvement with Bay Area poetry scene as well as the impact of his Jewish upbringing on his life and his art.
Flora Mason (1940- ) is a Las Vegas, Nevada philanthropist and community leader. She was born Florica Esformes to a Sephardic Jewish parents who emigrated from Greece to New York. This Mediterranean influence can be seen in the meals she serves for the Jewish holidays. Flora?s grandfather had a pushcart business in New York and her father became a produce broker, which led the family to Miami, Florida. She graduated from high school in Miami and also met Stuart Mason there. The young couple married in 1958. They had been married for 58 years when Stuart passed away in 2012. In this oral history, Flora recalls her life?from witnessing signage that read: no blacks, no dogs, no Jews in the South to meeting her husband while a teenager to raising her three children in Las Vegas. Along the way, she has always found time to form fast friendships and to inspire productive community organizations. v For example, Flora and Stuart founded the Las Vegas Chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation in 1970. It was a disease that their daughter Deborah had suffered from. They also established the Mason Undergraduate Peer Coach Program at University of Nevada, Las Vegas Libraries in 2006. Flora was the first woman elected by the general membership to serve on the Temple Beth Sholom Board of Directors. She has served on the National Board of Directors of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, been involved with the Jewish Federation of Las Vegas, the Anti-Defamation League among many other Jewish and non-Jewish community organizations. Flora?s college education began at the University of Miami and focused on completing both her undergraduate and graduate degrees at UNLV, where she majored in English literature. She then became a lecturer in the UNLV English department from 1985 to 1993. Flora and Stuart Mason had three children: sons William and James who joined the family?s successful three-generation commercial construction business Taylor International, and daughter Deborah. In this oral history, Flora shares the joy of being a grandparent, her love of travel, and the opportunities of meeting Israeli dignitaries over the years. She also candidly reflects on dealing with grief and the Jewish rituals surrounding death.
In 2015, Todd S. Polikoff was named the President & Chief Executive Officer of the Jewish Federation of Las Vegas. (The organization is now known as Jewish Nevada). Todd is a graduate of Stockton University and earned his MBA at Cleveland State University. He has three children: Samuel, Shira and Jordan. Born in 1971 to a steelworker and hairdresser, Jack and Judy Polikoff, Todd grew up in Philadelphia, became a bar mitzvah there, and shocked his mother when he explained he was putting college on hold to move to Israel. In addition to stories about these life memories, Todd also traces his career path to decision-making to a meaningful trip to Moscow a where a defining moment helped him understand his own relationship with Judaism. To the time of this interview, Todd has invested over twenty years in leadership of Jewish Federation and AIPAC in states that include New Jersey, Delaware, Texas, Ohio and Nevada.
Dedee (DaVeen) Nave reveals a life filled with distinguished results in the cultural evolution of Las Vegas since her move to the valley in 1971. She was a young bride and soon a mother when she arrived with her can-do energies. She was a trained educator who was eagerly looked outside the classroom for a way to make a difference in the community when she took a position with the Camp Fire Girls Over the following decades, the impact of involving Dedee in many valued projects is evident. In this interview, she provides a glimpse into her various aptitudes and the many people she has worked with to great results. Dedee Nave was born DaVeen Maurer in 1948 in Indianapolis, Indiana, to David and Virginia Maurer and has a sister, Marilyn Maurer MacCollum. Their mother was a convert to Judaism who instilled them with a solid Judeo-Christian foundation. When Dedee became the bride of a mixed marriage, she raised her daughter Alisa in the Jewish faith. Alisa, who is married to Robb Worth, is a practicing attorney in Las Vegas. A graduate of Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, Dedee studied fine arts, considered being a theater major, modified her plans and became a skilled organizer of people and projects. This ability to envision, implement, and fundraise is seen in Dedee?s distinguished list of community programs, among them her work with: the City of Las Vegas Arts Commission; two terms on the Nevada State Arts Council; a past president of the Junior League of Las Vegas; former chairperson of the Junior League?s Endowment Fund Trustees; Lied Discovery Children?s Museum opening; and chairperson of Morelli House Public Program and many other initiatives.
Interview with Margo Mink Colbert by Barbara Tabach on November 11, 2014. Colbert discusses her upbringing in New York and her schooling at the High School of Performing Arts and Julliard. She is a choreographer and faculty member at the University of Nevada Las Vegas.
Margot Mink Colbert was born in 1935 in New York City, to parents of different economic backgrounds who shared a Jewish immigrant heritage. She attended Julliard and studied under modern dance pioneers like Martha Graham and Jose Limon. Margot honed her skill for choreography, and took her first job in academia as a Senior Lecturer in the dance department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 1991, she moved to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas to take a one-year appointment as an instructor. A year later, she was hired into a tenure track position. Margot is now a Professor at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, assistant chairperson of and Director of Ballet in its Department of Dance. In addition, she continues to direct Ballet Mink, a dance company she founded in 1970.
Interview with Doug Unger by Barbara Tabach on August 26, 2014. In the interview, Unger discusses his schooling, his family's mattress business, and his endeavors in the company and the mattress industry in Las Vegas. Unger becomes involved in Holocaust education and the Sperling Kronberg Mack Holocaust Resource Center.
Doug Unger was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and grew up working summers in a mattress factory, a family business started by his maternal grandfather. After graduating from high school in Cleveland, Doug attended the University of Cincinnati until moving to Steamboat Springs, and enrolled in Denver University, though ended his college career one class away from graduation. Eventually, Unger moved back to Cleveland, then to Las Vegas. In 1976, Dough bought Supreme Mattress and moved to Las Vegas to build his new business. Outside his successful career, Doug was always an active member in the city's Jewish community. He joined Congregation Ner Tamid, where he was a trustee. He became involved with the Jewish Federation, serving as treasurer and later as president. When he moved to Reno, Doug joined Temples Sinai and Emanu-el, and also became heavily involved with Guide Dogs for the Blind Friends Committee, serving as its director for a period of time. He was also the co-chair of the Governor's Advisory Council on Education Related to the Holocaust (GAC). Doug was instrumental in establishing the Library for Holocaust Studies as a successful organization, independent of the Jewish Federation. The Library is now located in its own, donated space, run by trained staff, and receives $200,000 from the state biennially.
Interview with Chic Hecht Julie Sefman on April 2, 1976. In this brief interview, Hecht talks about his time in the state senate working to bolster the budget with sales tax and gaming tax, starting a community college and health programs. He also talks about Pop Squires, a newspaper man and advocate for building Hoover Dam, who had a home on the site of Chic Hecht's clothing store on Fremont Street. Hecht also describes his time in the military and his involvement with the Military Intelligence Association.
In this interview, Berkley shares her family history, from her great-grandparents? immigration to the United States to her immediate family?s own migration from New York to Las Vegas. She reflects upon her childhood experience in Las Vegas, including her varied leadership positions with Jewish organizations as well as at school, from junior high school through college. Berkley also talks about her involvement as an adult within the Jewish community and more broadly as a public servant, in all levels of government.
Former United States Democratic Congresswoman Shelley Berkley represented Nevada?s 1st Congressional District from 1999 to 2013, an area that includes most of Las Vegas. During her seven terms as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, the district benefited from millions of dollars of federal funding for education, transportation, and other projects. She also successfully fought against storing nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. Shelley Berkley was born Rochelle Levine in New York City in 1951 and moved to Las Vegas during junior high in 1963. She practiced law in Las Vegas and served in the Nevada Assembly for two years. She was also a member and vice chair of the Nevada University and Community College System Board of Regents. Berkley attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas where she served as student body president and graduated with honors in 1972 with a B.A. in political science. After obtaining her J.D. in 1976 from the University of San Diego, she returned to Las Vegas to practice law. From 1976 to 1979 Berkley was Deputy Director of the Nevada State Department of Commerce. She provided legal counsel to several casinos at various points in her career, served as national director of the American Hotel-Motel Association, and founded the Southern Nevada Association of Women Attorneys and the Senior Law Project. In 1977 she married Frederic Berkley and had two children, Max and Sam. She remarried in 1999 to Dr. Lawrence Lehrner of Las Vegas, who also had two children from a previous marriage. Before being elected to Congress, Berkley served on the board of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. She continued her vocal support of Israel in Congress and was heavily involved in all matters related to the Middle East. She was a member of several committees, including: Foreign Affairs, Veterans Affairs, Ways and Means, Small Business, and Transportation. Building a new Veterans Administration medical complex in Southern Nevada and sponsoring many pieces of healthcare legislation are also among her accomplishments as a U.S. Representative. In 2013, she was appointed CEO and Senior Provost of the Touro College and University System?s Western Division.
Claude Black describes his family's escape from Germany to Santiago, Chile, and eventually settling in Chicago, Illinois. The essay is illustrated with images of his family and documents from their journey.
Throughout this interview, Blaine shares stories of his father, Alvin Benedict. Al owned and operated Benedict and Remy Plumbing Business for a few years before entering into casino management. He is considered to be the first college educated executive and had an illustrious executive career at the MGM. He also was a co-founder with Susan and Irwin Molasky of Nathan Adelson Hospice.