Vivian Berry

Interviewed by Lois Frank

June 28, 2004

Max M. Fisher Federation Building

Vivian Berry
Video 01:11:30


In this interview, Vivian Berry speaks about her grandparents’ immigration to Windsor and their involvement in the Jewish community in Windsor, Ontario. She mentions that her grandmother had started Hadassah in Windsor and held the first meeting in her home.

Mrs. Berry talks about her education in business school, then going into her career as a paralegal.  After the death of her first husband, Berry worked as an administrator for Shaarey Zedek and here she talks about her close relationship with Rabbi Adler and eventually how she met Louis Berry.

Next, Mrs. Berry talks about how Hadassah motivated her to become more involved in the Jewish community, leading her to join the American Jewish Congress.  Here, she relates a story in which she calls out the group for not providing a kosher lunch option for the meeting she attended.

Mrs. Berry discusses at length some of the projects, jobs, and trips Louis Berry was involved in, as well as some of her own; she was one of the founders of the Women’s League of the Jewish Theological Seminary of Michigan, chair of Israel Bond functions, Vice President of the Women’s Division of the United Jewish Appeal, and Vice President of Sinai Hospital Guild.

At this point in the interview, Mrs. Berry mentions her involvement with the Jewish community in Palm Beach, and then speaks about her daughters and grandchildren.  Finally, Mrs. Berry mentions the different roles of women in society and how it affects volunteerism, and how the Jewish community in Detroit changed after the 1967 Rebellion.

History of Narrator

Vivian Berry was born in Windsor, Ontario. Upon finishing school, she traveled to Detroit to find a job and was employed at a law firm. She married a lawyer name Louis Tatken, who passed away not long after the birth of their third child. During her first marriage, she worked as an administrator of Congregation Shaarey Zedek and became president of the Sisterhood. It was through her work at Shaarey Zedek that she met her second husband, Louis Berry.

Judaism and philanthropy played a significant role in Berry’s life. She served on boards of Hadassah, Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit Women’s Division, and the American Jewish Congress Women’s Division, and was active in the Jewish Theological Seminary and the American Friends of the Weizmann Institute. In Detroit, she helped establish the Louis and Vivian Berry Health Center of Sinai-Grace Hospital. She was also a founder and past chairperson of the Michigan branch of the Women’s League for Conservative Judaism.

Vivian Berry passed away on May 8, 2008 at the age of 93.


Important Subjects

  • Hadassah
  • Israel
  • Israel Bonds
  • Women’s League of the Jewish Theological Seminary

Important Names

  • David Ben-Gurion
  • Golda Meir
  • Joseph Holtzman
  • Louis Berry
  • Rabbi Morris Adler

Credit as: Leonard N. Simons Jewish Community Archives. Vivian Berry Oral History Interview, June 28, 2004.