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The 20th Century Exodus: The Triumphant Life and Journey of the Jewish in Our Community

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(Duration: 59:03)

A radio documentary special  by Urbana University Laboratory High School students.

Growing up in Champaign as one of a handful of Jewish children in town, Ruth Kuhn Youngerman enjoyed friendships with people from a variety of faiths. The Jewish community was small and close-knit, led by Jewish storeowners such as the Sterns, Lowensterns and Kuhns who helped develop commerce in downtown Champaign and Urbana.

Yet Jewish residents were integrated and accepted in the community, said Youngerman, who was born in 1914, the same year that the first Jewish temple was built at State and Clark streets. When her grandfather, Kuhn’s Department Store founder Joseph Kuhn, died, they called him the best “Christian” in the community, Youngerman said. “In other words, they were saying he was like them, that they (Jews) were good people.”

Urbana University High School students interviewed Youngerman and 13 other leaders of the Champaign-Urbana Jewish community for a new radio documentary, The 20th Century Exodus: The Triumphant Life and Journey of the Jewish in Our Community.