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Victor Baruh

Another holiday I remember clearly is Simchat Torah, Torah's Joy, when the scripts are solemnly taken out; they are carried round the synagogue and everyone stretches out and kisses them. At this holiday the reading of the last text of the Torah ends and then continues from the beginning. It is a very joyous holiday - there are many songs and dances, especially among the Ashkenazi Jews. I have never attended their celebrations but I know that among the Sephardi Jews in Bulgaria there have never been such dances. Now there are some attempts for introducing these dances into the Sephardi ceremonies.
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Rafael Genis

I loved Simchat Torah. Everyone got a Torah at the synagogue - some people got bigger ones, others got smaller ones and we all went around the synagogue singing and dancing. Then the rabbi read a prayer for everybody.
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Louiza Vecsler

On Sukkot everybody from my mother's and my father's family came over to us. We cooked a lot, and I still remember we had honey cake. We had a sukkah, but I don't remember if it was in our garden or in my maternal grandparents'. Somebody, I don't know who, came and built it, and we, kids, played in it. On the last day of Sukkot [on Simchat Torah] there was some sort of party with nuts, wine, syrup and apples in the synagogue; people took out the Torah, sang and danced, and had little pennons.
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feiga tregerene

I liked preparations for Jewish holidays most of all. We staged amateur performances, which were sketches from the Jewish life, for each holiday. Purimspiel was the merriest performance on Purim. Once I even played the role of Queen Ester, the savior of the Jewish people. Our mothers and older sisters made costumes for holidays in our favorite teacher's apartment, which almost became a sewing shop. Our teacher enjoyed preparations to holidays as well. We also gave performances on Simchat Torah and Chanukkah. I enjoyed going to school, and my school years were happy and flew by quickly.
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On Sukkot my father made a sukkah in the yard, using pine tree branches. Inside the tent he placed a portable table to have meals there on these days. On Simchat Torah we ran to the synagogue to watch the festival. When we grew older, we could also participate. I remember numerous lights on Chanukkah, the winter holiday, when Jewish residents lit chanukkiyah candles that could be seen through the windows. Mama lit another candle every day. When I was a little girl, my father used to make me a spinning top, and I played with it with other Jewish children. All eight days of Chanukkah we ate potato pancakes [latkes], cakes and pies made from the dough on vegetable oil. We also had little pies filled with jam. I learned the history of Jewish holidays and rituals, when I went to the Jewish school. Before school I didn't quite realize what they were about.
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Berta Finkel

On holidays, we always went to the shul in Botosani too. My husband went there more often. He went there twice a day, in the morning and in the evening. My son always accompanied him on Friday evening and on Saturday. The shul was there, close to where we lived – a house of prayer –, on Zimbrului St., just a bit further up the road. My husband went there twice a day. Formerly, people went to the shul both in the morning and in the evening, as well as during the week. Nowadays, they don’t do that anymore. Here, men go to the shul only once a week. They only go there on Friday and on Saturday, that is all. There aren’t even so many Jews, many of them died, and most of them are older, elderly people. I still go to the shul during the autumn holidays – on Rosh Hashanah, on Yom Kippur; we don’t go there on Sukkot, but we go there on Simchat Torah. But when we go there, do women participate in the prayers? They sit there and chat. How one of them made fruit preserve, how another made zacusca [Ed. note: traditional Romanian vegetable spread]…
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Rifca Segal

Ever since I started teaching children, so after 1991, I have been going to the synagogue on Simchat Torah, and I was going there with the children. For there was a choir, and a choir conductor as well, and they sang in the choir. But now they no longer sing at the synagogue here in Botosani – the people are old. On Pesach: that’s the only time when I go to the community’s canteen.
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Simchat Torah comes after Sukkot. It means the joy of the Torah, which means that you celebrate the Torah. It is a very beautiful holiday. Each synagogue had a member who was the most well-seen of all, the richest, and in Sulita, my father was the front-ranking one, the most reliable member – it was called gaba [gabe, gabbai]. And there were 2 synagogues in Sulita – they were competing with each other. And I always remember this: the members of the synagogue and children came to our door with little Zion flags – with magen David –, and an apple stuck on top of the flag, and with lit candles; they sang songs that are sung on Simchat Torah, and they invited the front-ranking member of the community to the synagogue. And then they went to the synagogue, they recited the prayer that needs to be recited every evening, but especially on that occasion they take out the Holy Scrolls, and they give the believers – the men – turn by turn a Holy Scroll, which is to say the Torah, and they walk – the rabbis wearing sideburns and beards dance – around the altar [Mrs. Segal is referring here to the bimah] and they sing. And when I was a child I used to walk around it myself next to my father, and I used to sing, as well. Father was holding the Torah, and I held father by the coat, by the hand. Oh my, it was such a joy…
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Jeni Blumenfeld

Afterwards Simchat Torah follows, when the reading of the Torah is finished and they walk circles through the synagogue with the Torahs – then I will go to the synagogue as well.
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Jakub Bromberg

This happened during Simchat Torah. [Editor’s note: the festival described below is partly Rosh Hashanah, the Feast of Trumpets, partly Simchat Torah: the interviewee probably confused the rituals.] The rebbe, the tzaddik and other Jewish guests came to receive the Torah into the prayer house.
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Chaim Henryk Ejnesman

We always celebrated all the holidays: Purim, Pesach, Yom Kippur, Simchat Torah. I remember all these holidays.
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Liza Lukinskaya

I vaguely remember the fall holidays. When we were living in the old apartment by the synagogue, there was a sukkah made by the neighbors in our yard and we also went there. I remember the holiday of Simchat Torah when Jews would joyfully carry the Torah scroll. My brother and I were able to watch those holidays, when we were living by the synagogue, but those holidays weren’t celebrated at our place.
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Chasia Spanerflig

On the major Jewish holidays Grandfather Aron came to see us. I remember he always came to us on Rosh Hashanah. They blew the shofar on that day in the synagogues. A festive table was laid in our house. There were a lot of sweets – Mother’s strudel, apple pies with honey. My parents spent Yom Kippur in synagogue. The children didn’t fast, but parents always did on that day. I liked the next fall holiday of Sukkot. A sukkah was installed in the yard and our entire family dined there for eight days. Grandfather Aron came on the first day of the holiday with branches of estrog and lulav and shook them in four directions, and I had to pronounce some words after him, being the eldest child in the family. On the mirthful holiday of Simchat Torah songs were sung in synagogues, choirs sang in Jewish schools. Jovial processions left the synagogue carrying the Torah scroll. On this holiday and on Purim women baked all kinds of sweets. They also made artificial flowers and buttonholes and rich Jews thought that it was their duty to buy some of the knick-knacks for charity.
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Berta Mazo

I always visited synagogue on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. My favorite holiday was Simchat Torah. It is the last day of Torah readings: Jews carry Torah scrolls and dance everywhere, even in the streets. I consider it to be the most cheerful holiday. Inna, a daughter of my cousin finished a choreographic school and used to dance at Simhat Torah.
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Gitli Alhalel

I remember that the chairman of the Jewish organization at that time was Rozanov (I do not remember his first name). I also remember that the Jewish school was only up to the 4th form (equivalent to the present 4th grade). Adon [meaning ‘mister’ in Ivrit] Haim Levi, also from Vidin, taught us Ivrit from the Torah, and before that we read fairy tales in Ivrit. But we studied the letters for a whole year. After that adon Niko (Nissim) Sabetay taught us Ivrit and I also liked him as a teacher. Of course, at first I made mistakes all the time, it was very hard to learn Ivrit, because no one at home knew it. But I gradually got used to it and I even started to like it.
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