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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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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

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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Geta Jakiene

I do not remember the rest of the holidays vividly. As usual, grandmother made festive dinner with the relatives. Milk dishes were cooked for Shaveot. There were pie with curds, all kinds of casseroles and stews. On Rosh- Hashanah grandmother gave me the hen to be taken to shochet. He rotated alive hen over my head making kapores rite. On the eve of Yom Kippur we had a substantial meal as we did not eat before the next day. Grandma told me that I could eat as children and sick people were allowed to skip the fasting, but it was a pleasure for me to fast with everybody. I liked Sukkot and Simchat Torah. Sukkah was put by grandpa right in our yard. From the roof he took down handmade whickered dome. In that peculiar sukkah grandfather prayed during the holidays. He also had meals there. When it got cold in the evening, grandfather came home to get warm. On Simchat torah and Channukah grandfather, aunts and uncles gave me money, I and other Jewish kids were looking forward to that holiday.
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Meer Kuyavskis

On Sukkot we did not make our own sukkah as we rented our premises. The landlord made it for everybody in the yard. Father gave him some money for that and we used it. There was an interest holiday Simchat Torah after Sukkot. I liked the tradition, which was characteristic for our location. On that day the water was taken from the wells, sanctified and people danced around it. Of course, there was a festive procession of Jews carrying torah, accompanied by songs and dances. All that pleased us.
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Dobre Rozenbergene

On Sukkot, Father set up a sukkah in the yard, covered with fir branches. There was a table in the sukkah, where Father had meals during the holiday. We didn’t enjoy having meals there, as falls were cold in Lithuania as a rule. The most important holiday in the fall was Simchat Torah. On that day all our kin came to ours, as my mother was the eldest daughter in her family. She laid a table for twenty people. It was a mirthful holiday. My brother and I watched a joyful procession carrying the Torah scroll from the synagogue and walking around the synagogue with it, dancing and singing. We didn’t take part in those processions. Like any other Jewish family we lit the chanukkiyah on Chanukkah. It was traditionally placed on the window-sill. All Jewish houses shimmered with light on dark December nights. There were a lot of potato dishes –fritters, tsimes and doughnuts with jam. My parents and grandmother gave us Chanukkah gelt. Though I had a daily allowance when I went to school, Chanukkah gelt was somewhat special, festive and eagerly anticipated.
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Frida Zimanene

In spite of the fact that my parents weren’t truly religious, some Jewish holidays were celebrated in our family in accordance with the tradition. I can’t recall, if my parents fasted on Yom Kippur. As far as I remember, my father was against it, but Mother fasted. On that day as well as on Rosh Hashanah we didn’t have a festive meal. I don’t remember the fall holidays. At any rate a sukkah wasn’t set up in our yard. I remember the joyful holiday of Simchat Torah as we, the children, went to the synagogue not far from the house. We saw a procession of religious Jews, walking with the Torah scroll around the synagogue.
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