Interview with Harold Baker, May 3, 2016

Project: Jewish Kentucky Oral History Project

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Interview Summary

Baker's father and mother immigrated from Poland and Lithuania, respectively, in the early 1900s and settled with family in the Lexington area. His father established Baker Metal in an old hemp factory in 1921. Baker attended the College of Commerce at the University of Kentucky in preparation to take over the family business. He signed up with the United States Army in 1943, and eventually took over the business after the war in 1945. Baker talks about the decision to sell his business to the Cohens in 2003.

Although his parents grew up Orthodox, he and his family began attending services at Ohavay Zion Synagogue and Baker attended Sunday school at Temple Adath Israel. Baker eventually became a member of the Temple Adath Israel congregation with his wife, and the congregation became a centerpiece of their social life. Baker raised his children with a strong Jewish identity, even though he believes that their practice differs from his. Baker describes his involvement with Temple Adath Israel which included administrative roles, fundraising, and contributing to Temple expansion and the hiring and firing of rabbis. Baker discusses the changes in the Jewish community in Lexington that he has witnessed, including the declining membership at Temple Adath Israel in recent years.

When World War II broke out in 1939, Baker learned about the persecution of the European Jewish community from his father, who read the Jewish Daily Forward and spoke with family members in Europe. Most English newspapers did not carry information regarding the Holocaust and most school courses did not cover it.

Interview Accession

2016oh057_jk020

Interviewee Name

Harold Baker

Interviewer Name

Arwen Donahue

Interview Date

2016-05-03

Interview Rights

All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.

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Interviews may only be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.

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Baker, Harold Interview by Arwen Donahue. 03 May. 2016. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.

Baker, H. (2016, May 03). Interview by A. Donahue. Jewish Kentucky Oral History Project. Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington.

Baker, Harold, interview by Arwen Donahue. May 03, 2016, Jewish Kentucky Oral History Project, Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.





Persistent Link for this Record: https://kentuckyoralhistory.org/ark:/16417/xt7msb3wwt05