Interview SummaryA dedicated adherent to the Jewish faith, Dr. Raphael Finkel grew up in the Chicagoland area in the 1950s and 1960s. After discussing his family lineage and their immigration to the United States from Eastern Europe in the 1890s, he describes holiday traditions that his family routinely practiced. For example, on Rosh Hashanah, they would attend Park Synagogue to see Rivn Ticker perform. Growing up, there were not many Jewish children in his elementary or high school so Dr. Finkel talks about how he felt towards Christmas celebrations.
He earned his undergraduate degree in math at The University of Chicago and then pursued a Ph.D. in computer science at Stanford University. There, he became involved with Hillel where he realized his talent for leading prayers and singing zemiros, traditional Shabbat songs, in his local minyan. He continued to be involved with Hillel and an egalitarian synagogue at The University of Wisconsin-Madison where he was hired as a professor.
Later, he moved to Lexington, Kentucky with his wife, Beth Goldstein, so they could both pursue careers at The University of Kentucky. He describes how they raised their two children, Penina and Asher, strictly in the Jewish faith by keeping kosher and reading them verses from the Torah nightly.
Additionally, Dr. Finkel discusses the development of Jewish languages such as Yiddish and his attitude toward Israel today. He describes his cultural work in creating a Yiddish dictionary which helps writers find the newly standardized spellings of words.
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Interview UsageInterviews may only be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.
Interviews may only be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.
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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Finkel, Raphael Interview by Michael Di Girolamo. 06 Nov. 2017. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.
Finkel, R. (2017, November 06). Interview by M. D. Girolamo. Jewish Kentucky Oral History Project. Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington.
Finkel, Raphael, interview by Michael Di Girolamo. November 06, 2017, Jewish Kentucky Oral History Project, Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.
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