This is our family. This is my father, Efraim Sheyn, holding me and my mother, Rosa Sheyn, nee Kaplan, is standing to the right. The photo was taken in Valga in 1938.
My parents got married in 1925. I was born in 1936. My name, Ronny, was chosen by my parents from a book of Hebrew female names. When I was a baby, our family was well-off and happy. It was a traditional, decent, prosperous and caring Jewish family. My parents took good care of me. After I was born, Mother kept working. I had a baby-sitter.
German was spoken at home and I started speaking that language, too. Of course, Estonian became my second language. My parents knew Yiddish and Russian. Father also knew English. Mother knew Latvian very well as she was born in Latvia. Both of them spoke Estonia like all Jews, Russians and Letts who lived in Estonia. No matter what language was spoken at home in Jewish families, all of them were fluent in Estonian.
Jewish traditions were strictly observed in our house – kashrut, Sabbath, celebration of Jewish holidays. Mother cooked the food herself, though we had a maid almost all the time. Mother was a very good cook. She cooked traditional Jewish dishes. In general she knew how to cook, sew and knit.
I can’t think of anything that she could not do. She probably didn’t know how to milk cows, which was a skill that was very handy in exile. She could not learn how to do that, but as for other traditional women’s work, she was very skillful.
Mother had all kosher utensils. There were separate dishes for meat and dairy products. Mother strictly followed the kashrut in her cooking. Mother always got ready for the holidays the way it was supposed to. We always had matzah on Pesach as welled as other traditional dishes.