Herbert Hochberg, born in 1930, spent the first 10 years of his life in economic hardship because of the Great Depression. Both his parents migrated from Western Ukraine and lived in the Bronx since their marriage in 1928. They took in an infant to make end’s meet, and after the war his father went into the business of building two-family homes in the Bronx, while his mother stayed at home. Hochberg grew up across from Bronx Park until 1939 when his family moved to the newly developed Northeast Bronx near Allerton Avenue and Pelham Parkway. He describes the area as a mix of Jews, Italians, and Irish, with no minorities. All of his friends were Jewish. Hochberg describes the significance of education for his parents, and how his father saved up to buy him the typewriter he wanted.
Hochberg, after attending Columbus High School, attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology, at a time when he shares that most people would have never imagined attending a school outside of New York City. Hochberg explains he got a good education at Columbus and felt no difference at MIT from people who attended other, more prestigious schools. He felt the school was demanding, but never felt any culture shock coming from the Bronc. He participated in ROTC in college and, after attending Harvard Business School for his MBA, was a contracting officer in Philadelphia during the Korean War.
Hochberg describes joining the Boy Scouts and hiking in the country. He also would go up to the Catskills during the summers with his family, living in a dairy farmer’s lodge. While his father was religious, Hochberg was turned away from religion after reading the Bible in Hebrew and seeing how it differed from other English translations and considering the Holocaust. He still thought it was important to join a temple and bring his children as an adult. Today, he sees his own poorer upbringing as different from the affluence of his children and grandchildren, worrying they’ll be spoiled as opposed to the worries of his parents’ generation.
Ukraine, Columbus High School, the Great Depression, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard Business School, Boy Scouts, race, Black, Hispanic, Scarsdale, Riverdale, Pelham Parkway, World War Two, Korean War
Maier Garcia, Sophia, "Hochberg, Herbert" (2023). Bronx Jewish History Project. 13.