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baby pisetskaya

My grandmother made ground horseradish and cooked geese for the seder. I also remember that at the beginning of the seder at Pesach my grandfather put the afikoman under a pillow and I had to find it. I was too small then to remember more details about it. At Chanukkah my grandfather made little bags into which he put golden coins and hung those bags around our necks.
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Jankiel Kulawiec

We observed the holidays traditionally - at Pesach, for instance, the table was covered, and there was matzah. We didn't recite any prayers, but there were candles lit. Even afterwards, when Granddad died, I remember that we made sure not to eat bread at Pesach. But I remember that we baked three poods of matzah for the whole family. A pood was 16 kilos, I think [Russian pound, 1 pound=16.38 kg]. And there were what were called 'shuvalnias,' which were places where matzah was baked officially [kosher matzah bakery, a locally used word], and other places where it was baked, which the Jews called a 'zborne.' In these 'zbornes' [neighborhood matzah bakeries, a locally used word] the Jews baked matzah together; neighbors helped each other. And at the Mokobockis' there was this old stove, and when the time came to bake the matzah, my aunt koshered the stove, the rabbi came to check that it had been properly koshered, and then there was one of those 'zbornes' there. And the poorer Jews helped each other and baked matzah together.
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nisim navon

Kashrut (dietary law) was strictly observed in our household. There were
separate dishes for milk and meat and these two were never to be mixed. Our
grandmother and our mother made their own goat cheese. Before the onset of
winter, a milkman delivered a large quantity of milk, and we used it to
make a barrel full of cheese which lasted the entire winter. In preparation
for winter, we also made our own wine, collected winter staples such as
onions and garlic, and pickled vegetables. We would buy meat in those
butcher shops which sold meat that Rabbi Zaharija Levi slaughtered and
koshered. There was also a closet for Passover dishes, which was only
opened for the Passover holiday. There was no kosher restaurant in
Pristina, so eating in the local restaurants and cafes before the war was
something we simply did not do.

Shabbat was observed each week in our family. No one worked from sundown on
Friday until sundown on Saturday and we did not use lights. However, if by
some chance we needed to do one of these things, we would go out to the
street and look for a non-Jew to do it for us. Friday the women would
prepare food for the entire Shabbat. The meal usually included fiuzaldikas,
pastel (cake), fidjoni (cooked beans) and pitijas, an airy bread that
served as challa. The members of our family living together gathered each
Friday evening for the Shabbat meal. Our grandmother and the other women in
the house would light candles. Usually this was a bowl of oil with a bunch
of wicks, some of which were lit in memory of dead people. Our grandfather
Jakov would make kiddush (the prayer over the wine). Each Shabbat morning
we went to synagogue and back to the house for lunch. Our mother's father
gathered the children at his house to make havdalah (prayer service marking
the end of Shabbat). We called the spices barmut.

All of the holidays were observed by our family in a similar matter to
Shabbat, all at home. There were few communal celebrations. For Rosh
Hashanah we used to eat apples and honey. For such occasion my uncle Muson
had a roasted head of lamb on the table, and I cannot remember if our
grandfather also had one. The shofar (ram's horn) was blown in shul either
by Rabbi Zaharija Levi or by Jehuda Judic. Before Yom Kippur we would buy a
chicken and our grandfather would perform kaparot in the yard of our house
and then give the chicken to Zaharija Levi who would then give it to the
poor in the community. (Kaparot, literally meaning "atonements," is the act
of swinging a chicken over one's head and asking that its death substitute
for the death of the one making the prayer.) Our family always built a
succah (harvest festival booth) in the yard.

Before Pesach the women would buy wheat and take it to a water mill where
it would be ground into flour. They would gather in our grandmother's yard
and would make both matzot and bojas outside in the garden where she had a
bread oven. The women also ground some of the matzot to make matzo flour.
The Passover Hagaddah was read by all the family members in Hebrew. We
would go around the table taking turns reading. During the reading of the
Hagaddah, one child would sling a satchel with the bojas over his shoulder,
then all the other children would follow him around the table, recreating
the exodus from Egypt.

During the week of Passover, we would eat inhaminadus, bemulos de massa,
cuftes, sivuikas, pitas from matzo (with spinach, meat, leeks, etc), meat
patties with leeks or spinach, sweet matzo pitas, etc. I can still smell
those roasted onions stuffed with ground matzo and meat and hamin, cooked
wheat and meat, that we ate for Passover.

For Purim, the community would have a small masquerade party for the
children in the Jewish community building. After shul on Purim day, the
children would return home in their costumes and hang small white cloth
bags around their necks. They would then go to visit their relatives and
each one would add a few dinars to the little bag around the child's neck.
At the end of the day they would count up the money to see who had
collected the most. Baklava was frequently eaten on Purim, and presents
were given to the poor people in the community.

There was a small metal box in the house where coins were put before the
Sabbath, holidays, and other times during the year. Once a year a Jew from
outside Pristina (maybe from abroad) would come to open this charity box
and take the money, which was being collected for Israel.
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Mico Alvo

We kept the three main religious holidays very systematically when Didi was a child: Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah and Pesach. Didi found it completely natural. I mainly like tradition but I don't like all these silly things. You will not eat this or you will not eat the other. I find these things very silly. They say you shouldn't use the phone on Saturdays. Well, what kind of silly things are these? All these things that rabbis did to empower themselves, I really detest them.
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Daniel had two sisters. I remember one of them, who was younger than him. She was called Flor Saltiel. She was Dario's mother who married my mother's sister Lily. They were first degree cousins. The father of Lily and the mother of Dario were brother and sister.

They were very close to each other, but less with their siblings because they had children and grandchildren and there wasn't much time left for the others. When there was a religious holiday, especially on Easter, the whole family would go and visit the brothers, the aunts, and the cousins.

They were giving these haminados eggs [hard-boiled eggs with dried onion peels, salt and pepper] then. It was when they would really spend time together. Some would rent a carriage to go there, three or four of them together, in order to have more time to spend with the family.
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Rafael Genis

Then seder started. Father reclined on the pillows at the head of the table and carried out the seder. Mother was sitting by him and Grandfather Nakhman beside him. The youngest child asked the questions - first it was me, and then it was Abram. I still remember those four questions. Some of the kids found the afikoman and got a present for that. Then Father put a goblet with wine, opened the door and called Elijah, the prophet, in different ways. I didn't believe in his existence, but I liked the process of the holiday. Even now I don't know who drank the glass of wine which was meant for the prophet Elijah. I think Father did it.
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I loved Pesach most of all, the preparation in particular. Almost right after Purim the housekeeper started cleaning, turning the house upside down. We took the carpets, bed linen and mats outside and shook them out. We put beautiful curtains on the windows, festive tablecloth, polished the furniture and the floors. A large hamper with matzah was brought from the synagogue. Kosher Pascal dishes were taken from the loft. These were nice gilded, silver and porcelain dishes, which were used only for Pesach. The other utensils - pots and pans - were koshered in our yard. We got the presents on the eve of the holiday. My parents were practical people, and gave us the things that we really needed - new boots and clothes.
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Krystyna Budnicka

I remember Pesach, the moment that the door opened for Elijah to enter. I know that I knew the questions [the ma nishtanah] that had to be asked during the seder. At Pesach we used to eat macebrajka [pron. 'matzebrayka'] - crushed matzah crumbled into beaten egg, seasoned with a little salt and pepper and fried, a kind of matzah omelette. My mother used to fry it in goose fat; these days I fry macebrajka in margarine.
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Janina Duda

It was my job to varnish it for the Easter [Pesach] holidays and clog up those holes from the woodworms, to save the cupboard.
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Easter [Pesach] holidays were the same. There was seder, so I said, ‘Ba ladem alisztama halajla haze’ [‘Mah nishtana ha-lailah ha-zeh mi-kol ha-leilot?’: ‘Why is this night different from other nights?’, first question at seder], because there were three girls in our family and the youngest one was too small. [Editor’s note: the four questions are traditionally asked by the youngest child.] Mother made cake for the holidays and I licked the bowls clean. This was in the period when Father worked, there was money at home, so Mother baked cakes for holidays… Yes, all holidays. We celebrated all of them at home.
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Magdalena Berger

Our family was less religious than Father's parents but we were certainly
not a typical Neolog Jewish family in Sombor: we were considerably more
observant than most of the other non-Orthodox Jews in Sombor at the time.
We kept kosher and bought all of the meat from the kosher butcher. I
believe that my father maintained these traditions more out of respect for
his parents than out of ideology.

My family observed the Shabbat. Father's store was closed on Saturday and
although my brother and I went to school on Saturdays, we were not allowed
to write or do other things that violated the Sabbath. On Friday, Mother
lit candles and we had a Shabbat dinner. Dinner usually consisted of a
goose, goose liver, charvas, kiska, fried eggs and onions. For the second
Shabbat meal we ate cholent and cold zucchini. The Shabbat leftovers were
then eaten the rest of the week. We rarely had beef, mostly only poultry,
and we made challah at home. I recall my father saying havdalah at the end
of each Sabbath, using a flat, braided, brightly colored candle.

All Jewish holidays were observed in our house. Before Rosh Hashanah we
would buy a chicken and perform kaporot at home and then take the dead
chicken to the butcher. On Succoth my family had a small succah on our
terrace. Not many other people had one but each year my father put one up
and decorated it. He would cut up strips of colored paper and hang paper
chains around the succah. We would eat in the succah during this week. We
had the family Seder at our house, which my father led. The Haggadah was
read in Hebrew and I believe that we had copies with a translation in
Hungarian. As the youngest child, I was always responsible for reading the
Ma Nishtana (the four questions about the meaning of Pesach). We celebrated
Purim but I cannot remember where the Purim Ball was held or exactly what
the service in the synagogue was like. On Hanukah we lit a menorah
(candlabra) and the children played dreidel (spinning top), gambling for
walnuts. I don't remember getting presents but I know that it was common
for most Jewish families to light Hanukah candles.
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avram sadikario

We celebrated all the holidays. For Rosh Hashanah we went to the temple for two days, from morning to afternoon. They read a lot in the temple. And for Yom Kippur it was all day. The hakham used to blow the shofar. The Yom Kippur fast would begin the soon as three stars appeared and we fasted until three stars appeared the next day. [Editor's note: According to the Shulchan Arukh, the fast begins 18 minutes before sunset.] We went to the temple for the whole day. We were there all the livelong day.

We made a sukkah on Sukkot. Not every house made one, because there was a lot of poverty and not everyone had a yard where they could put one. That's why there was one in the temple. We had our own sukkah and in our neighborhood many people made their own. We didn't have a lulav and etrog at home.

We had one chanukkiyah and we sang every night of Chanukkah. I still sing this for Chanukkah. I don't believe, but I do this as a custom: Maoz cur jeshuati leha nae lesabeah tikon bet tefilati Vesham toda ledabeah et ahim matbeah nicar anabeah az egmor beshir mizmor hanukat amizbeah az egmor beshir mizmor hanukat amizbeah. [O God, my saving Stronghold, To praise thee is a delight! Restore my house of prayer, Where I will offer thee thanks; When thou wilt prepare havoc For the hoe who maligns us, I will gratify myself With a song at the altar. Translation from Hebrew by Philip Birnbaum]

My father would save watermelons and other melons for Las Frutas [Tu bi- Shevat]. He would buy special melons in the summer and store them in the basement. We had all the fruit that could be stored on Las Frutas. All of it was put on the table and you could take as much as you wanted. The children got money for this holiday. It was a very nice holiday.

Purim was also a good holiday. We children got money. And we received and gave tavazikas [Editor's note: Sephardic Jews of Macedonia exchanged platikos di Purim] Mother would make something sweet and something salty and we would give it to someone else; this was tavazikas. And we had 'las paletas,' a noise-maker made from three pieces of wood. We drew in the middle and we moved it when they read Haman's name. There were three or four different kinds of them: one that was turned by hand, one that was hit. We played with this at home, not in the synagogue. We would visit people on Purim. For instance, my father went to visit his daughters and son in their homes. It was the custom that the older people go visit the younger people. And the kids would get a little bit of money, a few dinars. A few dinars was a lot. We had a coin which we called 'dvaestoparac' [1/20 of a dinar]. The younger kids got a few of those, one or two dinars at the most. We ate a lot of sweets for Purim. We went to the temple but it was a short service, not comparable to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

The month between Purim and Pesach was called Las Tuendas, which means work. The whole time there was work cleaning the house. G-d forbid how much cleaning. Women and girls had to do the cleaning. And in the end we all went around the house with our father looking for the crumbs [before Passover]. And then we carried them to where they put the trash. Some of the things we made kosher. We took a big pot and put boiling water in it and put the things in and that is koshering. The things that couldn't be boiled we hid in a special house, so that they were far away. You cannot touch chametz on Pesach. We had special dishes for Pesach and when it was over mother collected them and put them away again.

For Pesach we all got new clothes. We waited for this. Maybe during the year we bought things sometimes, but for Pesach one simply had to have new clothes. We had these things made by the tailor. My mother didn't sew pants and such things. She sewed small things. My mother didn't know how to use a sewing machine but my two sisters did. And my sister-in-law knew. They were younger than my mother. We got pants, suits, shoes, shirts, socks. Everything that you see and do not see was new. For Pesach everything had to be new.
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Margarita Kamiyenovskaya

According to my father, my grandparents were religious. They went to the synagogue on Sabbath and Jewish holidays. They observed the kashrut and marked holidays at home. They must have tried raising their children to be religious. My father got some sort of religious education in his childhood. He diverged from religion when he was an adult.
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Lily Arouch

Pesach was a very big celebration. We might not have been religious, but in our house tradition was sacred. First of all I remember that around Purim, which is exactly a month before Pesach, preparations had to begin. In those days we didn't have a mixer or anything like that, so when the sugar arrived in crystals, I remember my mother and my grandmother trying to break it up with a mortar and a pestle in order for the sweets to be prepared. The sugar had to be Pascoual [6] in order for the sweets to be proper. After that there was a huge box, it was more like a trunk, where they stored the Pesach pans and pots for the rest of the year.

On the eve of Passover these were taken out and all the rest of the household stuff was put away. The big trunk was sent to the matzah factory. Back then we didn't have the matzah cut in maneuverable sizes, bought in boxes; the matzah came in big pieces of differing size, in the trunk, covered with a white cloth. It had to last for the entire Passover period.

This matzah had to be cut down in order for all the sweets to be prepared, like the burmoelos [7], a very traditional sweet of Thessalonica. We kept the seven days of Passover and the whole tradition of it. For Passover, only one of my father's sisters, Ester, would come; the other three had big families of their own.

Ester lived near us and she came with her husband, Sabethai Pardo, and her two children [Nina and Alberto]. My mother's sister Laura joined us as well with her husband - the rabbi's son - and we all sat together around this traditional table.
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rena michalowska

I remember broth with dumplings which simply dissolved in your mouth. And matzah. Matzah was always fresh for Pesach, as there was a Jewish bakery in Tysmienica, near the town square. If there was matzah left from Pesach, my grandmother made 'matsebray,' pastry made from matzah crumbs. I know the recipe. Matsebray: dampen the matzah with water and mix with beaten egg. If you want it spicy, you can add salt and pepper, or you can make it sweet, with sugar or fruit preserves. Fry it on a pan.
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