Special Projects: Jewish Oral Histories

Oral histories about various facets of Johnstown's vibrant Jewish community.

To commemorate Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, JAHA is sharing a series of oral history interviews we conducted exploring the past, present, and future of Johnstown’s Jewish community.

These interviews, which were made in conjunction with the Cambria County Library and the Beth Sholom Congregation, were conducted as part of an outreach project with the traveling exhibit by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, “Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race,” which was shown at the Heritage Discovery Center earlier this year.

These interviews discuss different aspects of the Jewish community in Johnstown including notable individuals and moments, cultural traditions, and the history of the Beth Sholom Congregation. We invite you to listen to these interviews to learn more about the local Jewish community and its significant contributions to this area.

Special thanks to Barry Rudel of Beth Sholom Congregation; Laryssa Duncan of the Cambria County Library; and Anna Gagnon of the Girl Scouts of Western PA for their help with this project.

Fred Glosser

Fred Glosser, son of Sam Glosser of Glosser Bros. Department Store, recounts growing up on the Glosser farm his parents kept in Cresson, working at Glosser Bros. as head of operations, and his involvement in the local Jewish community. 

Freda Sinberg

Freda Sinberg, the eldest child of Sam and Penina Glosser, discusses hear earliest years growing up in Israel and her father’s relationship with David Ben-Gurion, as well as her memories of Johnstown.

Dr. Freda Sattel

After graduating from optometry school in 1943, Freda Sattel embarked on a nearly 50-year career practicing in Johnstown. She discusses her life in Johnstown, examples of anti-Semitism she and her parents faced, and what she hopes for the future of the Jewish community.

Dave Rudel

Dave Rudel discusses aspects of his life in Johnstown, including his business and relationship with the Glossers and the synagogue community, as well as Johnstown’s record-breaking fundraising efforts for the state of Israel.

Bernard “Bernie” Kleinstub

Bernie Kleinstub shares his thoughts on the merger of Johnstown’s synagogues in the 1970s to form the Beth Sholom Congregation.

Audrey Nahorniak

Audrey Nahorniak shares her memories of growing up in Moxham and Block’s Department Store, which her family managed during the Depression.

Sam Kaminsky

Sam Kaminsky discusses growing up in Johnstown and some notable figures in the local Jewish community.

Larry Rosenberg

Larry Rosenberg recounts how he came to Johnstown to begin his medical career as a pediatrician and how his leadership role in Beth Sholom grew over the years. 

Julie Katz and Marcia Kissel

Julie Katz and Marcia Kissel came to Johnstown as young adults and have been active at Beth Sholom ever since, and share their thoughts about their experience as part of Johnstown’s Jewish community, and its future.