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elvira kohn

There was a Jewish community and a synagogue on Zudioska Street. I think there were about one hundred Jews in Dubrovnik. I didn't take part in the life of the community that much. I always attended the services and celebrations on main holidays but that was about it. It was a Sephardi community.

Dubrovnik was a small town and everyone intermingled; I didn't feel that I needed to be part of the community life. I felt Jewish, declared myself Jewish, had Jewish friends but didn't feel that I had to do more. On Saturdays I worked so I didn't go to the synagogue but sometimes I went to the services Friday night. My mother was more involved in the community life because she had more free time. She was very friendly with other Jewish women and they often visited one another.
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baby pisetskaya

In 1991 the Jewish life began to revive in Odessa: they restored the synagogue in Remeslennaya Street [Osipov Street at present] where my grandfather Menachem and great-grandfather Shlyoma once used to go.
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After my grandmother died I began to escort my grandfather to the synagogue. My mother stayed at home to look after the children. My grandfather took his tallit and tefillin in a bag to the synagogue with him.
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Kursk was an industrial town near Moscow. There were one and two-storied buildings in town. There are two rivers near Kursk: the Seyn and the Tuskar river; and there are mixed woods around the town. Many Jews lived in Kursk before the war. There was a synagogue in town.
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Grandfather Menachem went to the synagogue regularly. I remember that he put on his tallit and tefillin when he prayed at home. I was five then and remember that I stood beside him and kissed the cubes - tefillin, and my grandfather kissed the edges of his tallit.
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David was the son of the chazzan of the Berla Kalika synagogue in Uman. Manya and David moved to Kharkov in 1930. David worked at the Kharkov tractor plant.
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Shlyoma Karasyov, my maternal great- grandfather, worked as a shammash in that synagogue.
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Since my grandfather was a tailor he went to the synagogue for tailors located in Remeslennaya Street in the center of Odessa.
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Jankiel Kulawiec

Panic broke out, the Jews wanted to flee, but because it was a Saturday and they couldn't flee, they got all their things together on their carts, so that they could leave for the country in the night. And the Germans targeted that and let a few bombs off in that direction, right by the synagogue. The first bomb was a direct hit on the synagogue building. It was a massacre, I remember that I was in shock.
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There was one synagogue in town, a splendidly sacral, Jewish building, which had a different interior to all the other buildings. It was a stone building, and inside there were wonderful frescoes depicting Palestine, and in particular Jerusalem. Those frescoes, if I remember correctly, were the handiwork of an eminent Italian painter, but unfortunately I can't remember his name. [The mentioned synagogue was made of red brick. The etchings and paintings on the walls and ceiling were done by a Polish painter, Podoliak. The synagogue fell victim to the Nazi blitzkrieg on 9th September 1939.]

The synagogue was open on holidays and Saturdays to all Jews, but the Orthodox ones had these places of their own where they met, these shtibls. Those shtibls were mostly in private houses.
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He was hardly religious at all. He didn't work on Saturdays [Sabbath], but he didn't go to synagogue either. I don't even think he went to synagogue on Yom Kippur.
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Granddad went to synagogue every week too, and he packed me off to cheder when I turned six. I don't remember much more, because they died when I was eight or nine.
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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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