Oral History

The Oral History Project is a key part of the Oregon Jewish Museum’s mission to preserve and present the history of Oregon’s Jewish community. The central goal is to develop a community oral history archive chronicling the life experiences of the Jews of Oregon. The current project expands and augments the Oregon Jewish Oral History Archives assembled by the late Shirley Tanzer. The project aims to collect a comprehensive range of oral histories from community members across the state.

Besse Harris Oral History Clip – Friday Night Dinner

Besse Harris was one of the hundreds of Eastern European Jews who populated the neighborhood known as Old South Portland (from the Willamette River west to 12th Street and from Hall Street South to Arthur). Besse was born in South Portland in 1914 to immigrant parents and grew up in a village like setting, complete with kosher bakeries, grocery stores, six synagogues, and two Jewish community centers. In this clip, listen to Besse describe the trip from the shochet (kosher butcher) back to her home with a chicken.