Don Zadoff (b. 1926)

Don Zadoff was born in Newark, New Jersey in 1926. His parents immigrated from what is now Belarus 1913 and Don’s father worked as a furrier in New York City. He grew up in a small apartment in a Jewish neighborhood with his parents, his maternal grandmother, and an uncle. His parents and grandmother spoke Yiddish in the home and Don learned both Yiddish and English as a child. His parents were “Jews by practice, not by study,” and while home was strictly kosher the family did not attend synagogue. Don's family did observe Jewish holidays, and Don went to Hebrew School and was bar mitzvah.  

Don joined the Air Force hoping to go to Radar School. He found that the Jewish guys in the Air Force banded together and sometimes had to defend themselves against antisemitic attacks. Don was stationed in the Philippines, Okinawa and in occupied Japan where he repaired radar and radios.  

When he was discharged from the Air Force he went to Rutgers College on the GI Bill, graduating with degrees in history and political science. He went to work for Merrill Lynch Brokerage in New York City and worked for them for 20 years in New York and five years in Oregon. He met and married his wife Susan in 1963 in New York City where she was dancing in a Broadway show. Susan gave up dancing and opened a dance school with a friend in Eugene, Oregon. She went on to teach dance at the University of Oregon for 38 years. They raised two sons and a daughter.  

Upon arriving in Eugene, Don and Susan wanted to be part of the Jewish Community and joined Temple Beth Israel. Don traveled to the small communities around Eugene as a speaker, educating non-Jews about what it means to be Jewish.