Gaylord Nelson Papers, 1954-2006 (bulk 1963-1980)

Contents List
Container Title
Box/Folder   4/19
No.   1255A/152
Minkoff, Evelyn,1993 January 25, Madison, Wisconsin
Biography/History: Evelyn (Weinstein) Minkoff was born in Madison, Wisconsin on November 23, 1925. Her parents both immigrated from Russia in the years prior to the First World War, when immigration rates from the Jewish Pale of Settlement were at their highest. Her father first emigrated to Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and then moved to Madison when the job opportunities in Wisconsin's capital city seemed more promising than his original destination. Mrs. Minkoff has lived in Madison all her life. She was graduated from Madison West High School, and then attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison. On October 20, 1946, she married Ben Minkoff. She would have four children, three girls and one boy. Her husband died in 1985. Mrs. Minkoff has always been very active in the Jewish community of Madison. Presently, she is serving as the President of the Madison Jewish Federation, which oversees a cross-section of Madison's conservative and reform Jewish congregations within Madison's growing Jewish community.
Scope and Content Note

Mrs. Minkoff begins her brief interview by discussing her reactions to the attack on Pearl Harbor from her perspective as a student at the University of Wisconsin. She immediately defines the war in terms of how it affected her as a Jew living in Wisconsin. She discusses her disillusionment with the way that Franklin Roosevelt ran the war in respect to his acknowledgement of the Holocaust. She also speaks of the role of the Jewish USO in Madison at the time, which existed for the benefit of the number of Jewish soldiers who were stationed at Truax field. She discusses the measures that Jews in Madison took both during and after the war in reaction to the cataclysmic events in Europe. As someone who was active in the Jewish community both in town and at the university, she is able to offer unique insights on the state of the Jewish community in Madison during the war years.

She also discusses other aspects of the war, though she is hard-pressed to separate any events from her perspective as a Jew. When discussing rationing, she mentions the problems involved in obtaining kosher meats. She speaks of what it was like to be in school at the time, in addition to how she and other women at the university dealt with the relative absence of men in Madison at the time. She describes her social life, which was also strictly grounded in Madison's Jewish community. Finally, she discusses how the war changed her life, and how it made her life experience fundamentally different than that of her grandchildren. the war, she feels made her more easily satisfied with less in life, in addition to creating the basis for her later involvement in social activism.