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Athens, Georgia
February 6, 2002
22 pages

Paul Kurtz was born in Spring Valley, New York into a fairly non-religious household. He was not bar mitzvah. He attended Vanderbilt University and then Harvard Law School where he got his law degree. He was in Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity at Vanderbilt and was editor of the school newspaper. His father was a purchasing agent for a baby toy company and later became active in politics and became mayor of Spring Valley, New York. In 1968 he met Carol who was a freshman at the George Peabody College for Teachers. After Vanderbilt he worked for a year in the newspaper business and then went on to Harvard Law School. In 1975 the Kurtzes came to Athens where Paul assumed a position at University of Georgia Law School, a job he held for 27 years. He taught criminal, constitutional and family law and eventually became Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs at the Law School. In 1994 he was named to a chaired professorship, the J. Alton Hosch professorship, a former dean. Carol was a teacher first in Oglethorpe Elementary School and then in Athens Academy, a private school. Carol also taught at the Temple’s religious school, was in the Sisterhood and was President of the congregation. She ran a Tay Sachs disease campaign during her Sisterhood years. She is also active in the Athens-Clarke Heritage Foundation that is dedicated to preserving historic properties, culture and land in Athens. Carol grew up in an Orthodox household. Her father started a small Orthodox synagogue, Beth Sholom, which was later bombed by Joseph Paul Franklin, a neo-Nazi, member of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and serial killer who murdered random interracial couples across the country and bombed synagogues. Paul was active in the men’s group at the Congregation Children of Israel, B’nai B’rith and in the community at the Athens Area Emergency Food Bank. He is active on the alumni board of Vanderbilt and also Alpha Epsilon Pi, as fraternity advisor. He has also been active in the legal field in the Association of American Law Schools and represents that State of Georgia in the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws and the American Humane Association, a child and animal protective organization. He authored a leading book on Georgia criminal law, Kurtz’s Criminal Offenses and Defenses in Georgia, first published in 1981 and is also a co-author of a family law book. They have a son, Benjamin, born in 1974. Benji attended Athens Academy through high school and went to Hebrew school and Sunday school at the Temple. He was bar mitzvah in 1989. Then he attended Emory University in film studies and works in radio running radio stations. Carol’s ancestors came from Poland on her father’s side. They came to New York City where he parents were born. He father was an optometrist. The family later moved to Memphis, Chattanooga and Nashville, Tennessee. Her father served in World War II. Paul’s family goes back to Russia and Poland. His grandfather left Russia because he didn’t want to serve in the army. He married a woman who was disowned by her family because she married down. They lived in New York their whole lives. Carol and Paul discuss their experiences with antisemitism. When Carol went to camp the other children asked her if she had horns and children in her neighborhood threw rocks at the ‘dirty Jews.’ She also experienced cultural antisemitism in the Junior League, where they did not have Jewish women as officers.

OHC-Paul and Carol Kurtz

Paul and Carol Kurtz - Oral History

51 Related Subjects

Congregation Children of Israel (Athens, Ga.)


Athens (Ga.)


Kurtz, Paul

Kurtz, Carol


Vanderbilt University
Universities and Colleges


Universities and Colleges

Bar Mitzvah
Judaism - Customs and Practices

Judaism--Customs and Practices

Spring Valley (N.Y.)
New York

New York

Harvard University. School of Law.
Universities and Colleges; Law Schools

Law Schools

Alpha Epsilon Pi
Greek Letter Societies, Jewish

George Peabody College for Teachers - Nashville, Tennessee
Universities and colleges

Nashville (Tenn.)

University of Georgia. School of Law
Universities and Colleges; Law Schools

Alton J. Hosch Professorship

Athens Academy (Athens, Ga.)

Private Schools

Oglethorpe Elementary School (Atlanta, Ga.)
Public Schools

Jewish schools



Athens-Clarke Heritage Foundation (Athens, Ga.)

Orthodox Judaism
Jewish Sects

Beth Sholom Congregation (Chattanooga, Tenn.)

Chattanooga (Tenn.)

Knights of the Ku Klux Klan
White Supremacy Movements

White Supremacy Movements


Serial killers

Franklin, Joseph Paul


Beth Sholom Congregation (Chattanooga, Tenn.) Bombing, 1977
Bombings; Synagogues

Athens Area Emergency Food Bank (Athens, Ga.)

Kurtz, Benjamin

Radio Broadcasting





Sunday Schools, Jewish
Religious Schools, Jewish

Cambridge (Mass.)

Jewish Greek Letter Societies
Greek Letter Societies

Conservative Judaism
Jewish Sects

Jewish Sects

Public Schools

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