Mary Berman

Mary Berman 3/11/1894-6/25/1984

Family- Spouse: Sam

Mary Berman came from Lithuania. She and her husband owned a dry goods store first in Durham and then on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill. She and Sam were mainstays of the Chapel Hill Jewish community. Mary would later recall that when they first came into town they had to emphasize that Jews were clean and did not grow feathers. They kept kosher and Mary for years would take all-day horse and buggy trips to Durham to get kosher provisions. She was very fond of her pony, which she kept in the couple's garage. When she did get an automobile, she was known to drive her car down Franklin Street very s-l-o-w-l-y. Berman was devoted to Beth El Synagogue and attended regularly.

The couple was very generous to all. Pauline Schultz remembers that she always greeted her with a bear hug even when Mary knew that Pauline was soliciting for money. Rabbi Steven Sager remembered that it was important not to eat before visiting Berman, because she always insisted on his eating when he got there.

The Bermans were not just generous to Jews. They served the African-American community and allowed them to try on shoes when other store keepers would not. Berman was clear that blacks should be treated as she would have wished her family had been treated in Europe.