A group of women stand behind a banquet table at a gathering for the Las Vegas Jewish Community Center. Back row, L-R: unknown, Norma Wallerstein, Zelda Fightlin, Goldy Mendelson, Lucille Silverman, unknown, Kittie Wiener, Reba Saiger, Lee Matorian; Front row, L-R: Silvia Sirotta, Adele Fox, unknown, unknown, unknown, Elsie Goldring (white dress), Helen Greenstein, Sallie Gordon, Lucille Mack, Marjory Grossman
They've been referred to as the two Jewish mothers who own a funeral home. At first glance that seems too simple a description. However, it is how they arrived at this description that tells a story of two women who moved here in the late 1990s and whose paths crossed as they became part of the Jewish community of Las Vegas. Laura Sussman arrived first. It was 1997. The Jewish Community Center, a JCC without walls as Laura puts it, hired her as its first executive director. She was from Ohio where there was a robust Jewish tradition. She was director for eight years; then executive director at Temple Beth Sholom. Wendy Kraft moved to the valley in 1999. She was a stay at home mom from Boston, who was accustom to volunteering in the Jewish community. Knowing no one and on the brink of divorce, the Jewish community became her life, a way to build a network of friends and keep her occupied just as it had been in Boston. The two women met through their work with the JCC and love followed. Several years later, in 2009, so did their new business, Kraft-Sussman Funeral and Cremation services. By February 6, 2015, Laura and Wendy had married. They had already formed a family with each other and their three daughters, Leah Sussman, Emma and Elyse Kraft. In this interview they discuss their joint sense of purpose that includes love of family, dedication to the Jewish community, pride in the LGBT identity, and providing caring services to those at the time of funeral services. They talk also of Jewish traditions related to death, the Jewish burial society known as Chevra Kadisha, and challenges of their industry. They share feelings about nonprofits and how they value being actively involved in the community.
In this oral history interview, Adele Baratz and Florence Frost discuss their experiences as members of the Las Vegas Jewish community, particularly as it has evolved and grown over the decades.
Adele Baratz and Florence Frost discuss their experiences as members of the Las Vegas Jewish community, particularly as it has evolved and grown over the decades. As active members of the Temple Beth Sholom congregation, the two recall others that made significant contributions to the local Jewish community as well as programs that strengthened Jewish life, including Women?s League, Fifty-five Plus and the Hebrew Day School. In addition, Adele and Florence recall efforts to pressure the Clark County School District to accommodate absences for the High Holidays. Adele (Salton) Baratz was born August 11, 1926, to Russian immigrant parents. The family moved to Las Vegas when Adele was two years old, making her the longest residing Jewish resident in Las Vegas. Adele graduated from Las Vegas High School in 1944, and then attended nursing school at Baltimore?s Sinai Hospital, from which she graduated in 1947. While visiting a friend in Philadelphia, Adele met her husband, and the couple lived there for a few years. When the couple divorced, Adele returned to Las Vegas with her children, and eventually also returned to nursing. She retired from Sunrise Hospital in 1991, after 17 years. Florence (Levine) Frost was born March 24, 1929 in Brooklyn, New York. She married Robert L. Levine in 1949, and the two had three daughters. In 1960, Robert?s work as a decorator brought the couple to Las Vegas. Not long after moving, she joined Temple Beth Sholom, where she worked as an executive secretary for two years. It was at temple, as members of Women?s League, that Florence and Adele met. Florence was a two-term president of the Women's League beginning in 1970; established the Fifty-Five Plus Club for seniors; and served on the congregation's board of directors for many years. Florence?s other leadership roles in the Jewish community include: chair of the Anti-Defamation League committee of B'nai B'rith, president of the National Council of Jewish Women, and president of the Las Vegas chapter of the Brandeis National Committee (2010-2011).
In this interview, the Straus? discuss the joys of growing up in Las Vegas during the 1960s and 1970s, and the changes within the community over time, especially in educational opportunities. Both talk about Joyce Straus? career as artist and art educator, and the influence she had on their lives. They also remember Heidi?s father, Jay Sarno, and the impact he had on the local gaming industry. There is also discussion of the founding of Congregation Ner Tamid, the role of Jewish women?s philanthropy within the community, as well as the establishment of The Meadows School.
Typed script titled "Mothers of Jews" with handwritten notes and edits. Script is undated and is located in folder with Jewish Genealogy Society of Southern Nevada newsletter Family Legacies from 1998-2006 .