Rosa Levin Silver

Rosa Levin Silver 4/17/1887-4/19/1966

Family- Husband: Herman; Children: eight children

Sadie Silver Goodman wrote this about her mother, Rosa Levin Silver in 1986:

My grandfather, Harry Levin, migrated from Lithuania to the town of Durham, (population 2,000) in 1889 with his wife and five children, one of whom was my mother. He opened a small grocery and fruit stand on Corcoran Street. The store was across the street from Hotel Carolina, Durham's first hotel. The trains would stop in front of the hotel and my mother would sell fruit and sandwiches to the passengers.

Our first synagogue was established in 1892 in a small house on Queen Street. My mother attended the first Sunday school there, along with the children of the Gladstein's, Brady's, Levy's, and others.

My grandfather, Frank Silver, came to Durham in 1899 with his family from Philadelphia. One of his sons was my father, Herman Silver. He fell in love with my mother and they were married in 1900 when he was 18 and my mother, 16. The wedding was held in the Armory, and many leading citizens of Durham were invited. Her wedding gown was ordered by Ellis Stone (now Thalhimers) from New York City, and her wedding veil was made by Smith-Albright Millinery. In fact, when the stores had their 50th anniversaries, each of them displayed the wedding photograph in their window.

My father had a grocery store and was also in Real estate. He was very successful in his business ventures, and was highly respected in the community. He was one of the first Jewish Masons in Durham, and belonged to the Eno Lodge, number 210. In 1918, he received a certificate of honor as a member of the War Savings Society of North Carolina. He assisted other Jewish families in settling Durham among them the Hockfields and the Prinakoffs.

In 1920, on a business trip to Oxford, NC, he lost his young life in an automobile accident, leaving my mother at the age of 36 with eight children, the youngest of whom was only a year and a half.

My mother picked up the pieces, carried on my father's affairs, and devoted her life to her children, ensuring that they all received a good education. She was indeed a matriarch.

With all her duties, she still had time for charitable work. She was one of the first members of the Sisterhood, Hadassah and Chevra Kadisha. She was particularly noted for her delicious homemade breads, especially her large challahs and cinnamon buns. Her challahs were auctioned off at the Sisterhood Bazaar, and all her neighbors and friends enjoyed samples of her bread. She never turned anyone away from her door, feeding and clothing many. She preached prudence and thrift "a dollar saved will always double."

When widowed members were asked to pay $50 in dues to the synagogue, she insisted on paying $100. She contributed to the building of the synagogue on Holloway Street and purchased a pew. The certificate signed by Dr. N. Rosenstein, is dated Sept. 6, 1922. In memory of my father, she also donated one of the beautiful chandeliers to the new Beth El Synagogue. She again contributed to the building when the synagogue was moved to Watts Street. She was a very good and devoted member, and firmly believed in showing her support.

Like many other Jewish immigrants, she was proud of being a United States citizen and welcomed interactions with the larger gentile community. She was friends with many of the ministers in the area. One of the ministers gave a Sunday sermon describing an ideal Christian, and he used Rosa as an example. She never said an unkind word to anyone and people of all religions would come to her for advice.

In 1966 my mother died at the age of 82. Throughout her life she served as an inspiration and a tower of strength to her family and friends.

Rosa Levin Silver contributed a recipe to the Ladies Aid Society's 1946 cookbook:


  			3 lbs. flour			2 yeast cakes
			1 glass water			 cup Crisco
			1 tablespoon salt		1 teaspoon sugar
			2 eggs

Dissolve yeast in 1 glass warm water.  Sift flour, make hole in center of bowl and put yeast into it.  
Let stand until bubbles form. Add eggs, salt, sugar and Crisco.
Add more water, until fingers stick to dough. Knead and let rise almost 5 hours, until double its bulk.
Toss on board, form into loaves, and brush with yolks of beaten eggs.
Let rise until double its bulk. Bake in hot oven to 1 hour at 375 degrees F."