CHANGING SOCIAL, ECONOMIC, POLITICAL, AND CULTURAL LIFE

BY SANDY BERMAN
SPECIAL FOR THE AJT

It is hard to imagine what Jacob Haas and Henry Levi, Atlanta’s first Jewish settlers, would think of their city today. Undoubtedly, they would be amazed by the growth of the Jewish population and by the contributions made by their co-religionists.

From the beginning, Jewish individuals added to the social, economic, political, and cultural life of the city. David Mayer is credited with being the father of the Atlanta Public School System and for saving the city’s cotton crop during the Reconstruction era. Ludwig Amster was one of the founders of Piedmont Hospital and the Jewish-owned Fulton Bag and Cotton Mills, which, at one time, was the city’s largest employer.

Haas and Levi would have been amazed and proud if they had witnessed the many accomplishments and success stories generated by Atlanta’s Jewish population since their arrival in 1845. The stories will keep unfolding as new generations of citizens continue to create, produce, and add to the city’s future.Without Atlanta’s Jews there would not have been a Rich’s Department Store, a Jacobs’ Pharmacy, where Coca-Cola was first served as a fountain drink, or, perhaps, a world-renowned aquarium. Georgia Tech might have had a different fight song, one other than The Ramblin’ Wreck, which was arranged by Mike Greenblatt, and Driving Miss Daisy may have never graced the nation’s theatres if playwright Alfred Uhry had been born and raised elsewhere.

Sandy Berman is the founding archivist of Ida Pearle and Joseph Cuba Archives at The Breman Museum, where she worked for twenty-nine years. She has just completed her first novel, Klara with a K, which will soon be available on Amazon.