Home » Obstacles to Learning

Obstacles to Learning


Profiles in Learning | Obstacles to Learning | Harry Golden | Open & Learn

Directions: Click the numbers below the image to read the other “Obstacles to Learning.”


Obstacles to Learning

Working our Way to College: Poverty and Opportunity

Jewish immigrants usually came to America with little money, but with strong traditions that emphasized education. In Judaism, study is the means to understand God’s commandments. Immigrants often opened Hebrew schools for their children before they began congregations.

Jews also understood that secular education, in public schools and universities, was the route to a better life in America. Parents labored in stores so that their children would have better opportunities.


Breaking Rocks, Making Tracks: Joe Kittner

Joe Kittner’s Polish-born father, a shoemaker in Weldon told him that he “wasn’t worth 35 cents in the [shoe] business.” “I didn’t know what a college was,” Joe recalls, “but he said I should go.”

Higher education would have been out of reach for Kittner, though, if not for the sacrifices of his family. All the Kittners helped out in me shoe store, and when trains pulled into Weldon, the boys climbed aboard to sell magazines or carry bags up and down the stairs. Their father, hearing that the North Carolina Association of Jewish Women gave student loans, hitchhiked to Wilmington to request funds for his son.

Arriving at UNC in 1933, Joe recalls his college days as “washing dishes and cleaning rooms and trying to study a little bit.” He went room to room selling drinks and sandwiches and broke rocks on the tennis courts for 25 cents an hour. When Joe finished Law school, it was his tum to support his siblings through college. Joe became chief counsel for the Federal Communications Commission in Washington.


Building an Educated Life Beyond the Classroom: Sam Margolis

Sam Margolis was the son of an immigrant grocer in Durham’s Hayti neighborhood. For his bar mitzvah, he was drilled in Hebrew by a delicatessen owner who handed customers herring with one hand while pointing to Hebrew text with me other.

A history buff, Sam wanted to become a teacher. He enrolled at Duke and worked at the family grocery store until 9:00 each night. When the Depression came, he had to quit college to support his family. His father had died, and his brother Reuben, a student at Yale, could not find a job. So Sam spent his life running a grocery store and pawnshop. Every year, he awarded prizes to a Durham student who wrote the best essay in American Jewish history.



Kittner Family Sam Margolis Joe Kittner 2 Joe Kittner


Working Our Way to College: Poverty and Opportunity    We Were Different: Adapting to a Strange Land



No Skullcaps Allowed: Religion in the Schools    Some Jews are Acceptable: University Quotas