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elvira kohn

In our house in Vinkovci where I lived with my grandparents, my brother and my mother, the family respected Jewish customs and traditions. We weren't very religious, but there were certain elements of the Jewish religion and traditions that we respected. There was no pork in the house; that was strictly forbidden. We never had pork.

Otherwise, the meat we ate wasn't kosher; at least I don't think it was slaughtered according to the strict kashrut rules. My grandmother and mother cooked on Friday for Saturday so we didn't cook on Saturday. They prepared challah for Friday night and for Saturday. We lit candles Friday night and had a festive meal, usually fish, chicken soup and chicken. We had red wine.

On Saturday, we always ate cholent, which was prepared the day before. Most of the food was kept in the well in the backyard because otherwise it would have gone bad. We had a young servant girl named Ivka from Brcko who didn't live with us, but occasionally came to help my mother and my grandmother. She wasn't Jewish so she mostly helped us on Fridays and Saturdays. For example, on Saturday she went to the well where the cholent was kept, brought it in and heated it up for us for lunch.

We also lit candles on Chanukkah. For Pesach, we ate matzot, and I remember that my grandmother made delicious matzot cake. We had a seder dinner. Of course, we celebrated all the holidays, like Rosh Hashanah, and we always had a nice lunch or dinner. We fasted on Yom Kippur. It was more of a tradition than strict religion in my family. Like it is said: the customs have kept Judaism, and not the prayers.
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baby pisetskaya

They had a big house that could easily accommodate all members of our big family: my mother's brother Foma, his wife Genia and daughter Asia, Aunt Rachil, her husband David and their children, Boris and Ania, and us. At Pesach my mother baked matzah, cooked gefilte fish and chicken broth and made keyzele [matzah pudding], and brought it all to Luba. We spent the seder, led by Luba's husband Michael, all together.
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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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At Sabbath my mother baked challah. My grandparents had special crockery for Pesach.
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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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Arnold Fabrikant

I cannot say how religious Grandmother Gitlia was, but she always thoroughly prepared for Pesach and had special crockery for the holiday. She served festive food and bought matzah. She didn't go to the synagogue often. Once, when I was small, my grandmother took me to the synagogue to show me the place.
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Amalia Laufer

However hungry we were, we never ate bread on Pesach. My mother received a little bit of matzah at the synagogue. Even when we only had a piece of matzah on Pesach, it was enough for us to feel the spirit of Pesach.
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My mother had a poultry yard. She sold eggs and geese. She usually kept one goose for the family for Pesach and other holidays. She also left a bucket full of eggs for holidays. She made dumplings from eggs and matzah, pancakes and sponge cakes from matzah meal at Pesach. We also had cream and milk on holidays.
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Before Pesach she took all her kitchenware to the attic and brought down fancy utensils and tableware. She knew all rules. She made gefilte fish, chicken and stuffed duck or goose. We did a general cleanup of the house before Pesach so that not a single breadcrumb was left in the house. The whole family sat at the table. After my father died my older brother Mayer conducted the seder. He turned 13 years old and came of age according to Jewish tradition.
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On big Jewish holidays, such as Pesach, Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah, we went to the synagogue in Kuty.
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bella zeldovich

My father and mother came from religious families. They went to the synagogue on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and fasted on Yom Kippur. I remember a general clean-up of the house before Pesach and the removal of chametz from the house. Fancy dishes were put on the table. There was matzah and other traditional food: gefilte fish, chicken broth, maror (horseradish), charoset and kosher wine. Grandfather Avrum visited us on Pesach. He conducted the seder. I, and, later my brother Leonid, asked our father the traditional four questions [the mah nishtanah]. Our grandfather hid afikoman in the room and we had to find it.
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Anna Ivankovitser

We continued celebrating the Jewish holidays in our family. We celebrated Pesach according to the tradition. We bought matzah, made stuffed fish and baked cakes. My daughter Polina cooks this traditional food now. My husband came to like these holidays. I have fasted at Yom Kippur since I was 11, and Natan joined me. Polina speaks Yiddish and Hebrew. As for Marina, I don't think she knew any Hebrew before she left. We also celebrated Soviet holidays. We enjoyed cooking a nice dinner for the family and having guests. We didn't care much about the meaning of these holidays.
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After Natan left Odessa they moved to Kotovsk in the suburbs of Odessa. Natan's parents were not religious. They only celebrated Pesach as a tribute to tradition. They spoke Russian in the family.
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We followed Jewish traditions, although we would buy a piece of pork or ham once in a while. Mama didn't quite like it, but she didn't argue with us. We celebrated the Sabbath and Pesach together. We bought matzah at the synagogue and cooked the same food that Mama did before the war. There was a shochet in Chernovtsy, and we had him kill the chicken for our festive dinners. Mama went to synagogue on holidays. We spoke Yiddish to Mama, although she knew Russian well.
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My mother's parents were very religious. My grandfather and grandmother went to synagogue at least once a week, and they prayed at each meal, in the morning and before going to bed. There was a big choral and two or three smaller synagogues in Polonoye. My grandmother always went out wearing a wig. She wore it at home, too. She had long, beautiful silk and velvet gowns. She also wore a golden Magen David around her neck. My grandfather wore a black jacket and a hat. At home he wore a yarmulka on his head. He had a small beard. They always celebrated the Sabbath at home. My grandmother lit candles and cooked a festive dinner. My grandfather read a prayer. I don't remember them singing. My grandmother strictly followed the laws of kashrut. They celebrated all the Jewish holidays. At Pesach they bought matzah, made stuffed fish, chicken, goose cracklings and stuffed chicken necks. They baked strudels with jam, nuts and raisins, sponge cake from matzah flour and special Pesach cookies. All the adults and children over 11 fasted on Yom Kippur. There was Chanukkah gelt at Chanukkah and concerts of klezmer musicians at Purim. They celebrated some other holidays, too, but I don't remember which ones. They spoke Yiddish in the family, and they knew Russian and Ukrainian very well.
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