Jewish Studies


Diane Wolfthal was born in the Bronx in 1949 and lived on Pelham Parkway. However, shortly after her birth, Wolfthal’s family moved to the Amalgamated Housing Corporation. She remembers the co-op being an idyllic utopia. The co-op, from her memory, was very homogenous, with almost every family in the compound being Jewish, socialist, or communist, and either first or second-generation migrants. Additionally, most of the Jewish families at the Amalgamated Housing Corporation were secular. Wolfthal remembers observing Jewish holidays and going to Bar Mitzvahs but never having her Jewish practices tied to a notion of God. Instead, her Jewishness was tied to familial traditions, such as learning Yiddish. Because of the limited differences between members of the Amalgamated Housing Corporation, Wolfthal remembers tensions erupting between the communists and the socialists who lived there.

For her education, Wolfthal attended Riverdale Junior High School and Bronx Science High School. However, at Riverdale Junior High School, she struggled socially because she had little in common with the girls she went to school with. Wolfthal was bullied and was happy when she went to Bronx Science High School, where her friends from the co-op attended. She went on to get a BA, MA, and eventually a Ph.D. She married her husband while getting her BA, and they eventually settled in the Bronx together, where they had two children. Despite Wolfthal’s love for the Bronx, after a brutal attack and repeated shootings near their home, her family moved.

Today Wolfthal lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband. However, they recently bought an apartment in the Bronx, where they stay for a large portion of the year. She remembers her childhood fondly, particularly the sense of community she felt with the other children and members of the Amalgamated Housing Corporation.

Key Words:

Pelham Parkway, Van Cortlandt Park, Riverdale, Amalgamated Housing Corporation, Yiddish, Socialism, Communism, Vietnam War, Street games, Riverdale Junior High School, Bronx Science, Antisemitism, 1967/1968 Teachers Strike, Riverdale, Fieldston, Spuyten Duyvil