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Mico Alvo

The religious ceremonies were the bar mitzvahs and the weddings. The girls didn't have a bat mitzvah as they do today. I remember my bar mitzvah. I was thirteen years old. As soon as you are thirteen you can have your bar mitzvah. Some do it later. I remember I had a teacher from the time when I turned eleven and he would come to our house for two or thee hours a week. He first taught me the Hebrew alphabet and later what I had to read. For every single week out of the 52 weeks of the year, there is a part in the Old Testament that you read. I can still read Hebrew, but I cannot understand it.

I never learned Ladino or the Rashi alphabet [47]. Some others learned it. My father knew how to read in Rashi. I wasn't interested in learning it. No one in the family told me to do so. So why should I have done it? It was already out of date. It wasn't even Hebrew. Rashi was being read here in Greece, Bulgaria, and Turkey, where the Sephardic Jews were. The language quickly disappeared, but in the book those that went to the synagogue had to read many parts that were in Rashi, so they read them in Spanish.

I had my bar mitzvah in the Beit Saoul synagogue. The ceremony was like this: you go to the synagogue and read. You read and then you give a small speech. You say: From now on I am an adult Jew. I can participate in the ceremonies and I can be one of the ten men that are needed for a minyan.

You would read, and all the time someone would get up and sit next to you. He would pretend to check whether you were reading correctly and when he would go down, he would give his donation, to honor the family. There would be friends and relatives getting up. First it would be the grandfather, then the father and after them all the rest.

They were donating money to the institutes. The Jewish Community had many different institutes. Usually they would firstly donate money to the synagogue and the rabbi and after that to other organizations of the Community.

The bar mitzvah ceremony took place early in the morning, at the time that the daily ceremony starts. It usually starts just after sunrise, let's say at about 8 o'clock. The bar mitzvah would start around 9. Its duration varied. If there were many people that wanted to get up on the stand, it would last longer.

When there weren't so many that wanted to get up and read, then the rabbi would read faster. But usually after your speech, the rabbi gives a speech and tells you that you should now be a decent human being, as you are now an adult, you should follow your religion, the rules etc. At around 11 or 11.30 the ceremony was over. In my case, it lasted about that long.

Then we went home where we had a meal that the closest relatives attended. And later people would come and visit, with many presents. I remember everyone that came had a present. I then got my first bicycle as a present from my father. I also remember a nice school bag that my uncle Joseph brought me. They used to bring quills. And they also used to bring sweets. They would send flowers to the synagogue or to our home. One of the best presents that I got was the big Meccano. I got the biggest one, number 7. It started from number 1 and it went up to number 7. The number 7 really was a full course of mechanical engineering and it interested me very much.
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Lily Arouch

As for my daughters' bat mitzvahs I remember them being very simple but emotional ceremonies. We never had arguments with the grandparents on the way we were raising our children; they were tolerant and not very religious themselves. We always sought for the grandparents to light the candles on Sabbath.
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Renée Molho

My son, Yofi, continued the bookshop and my son Mair opened a stationary shop and my daughter worked sometimes at the bookshop and sometimes at the stationary, nothing steady.

Yofi married Yolanda Papathanasopoulou, who was Christian and became a Jew. She studied the Jewish religion and when we went to Yugoslavia for the marriage, the rabbi passed her through a series of examinations on religious issues, converted her and then they got married. I cannot say I was glad, as I would have preferred an outright Jew, but I find that, even now that they are divorced, she has done a very good job with her children, who are growing up very properly.

Her son had a nice bar mitzvah and her daughter who is called Renee after me, had her bat mitzvah, all under her supervision. I could say that somehow they are following the Jewish religion, as they went to the Jewish school, they went to the synagogue every Friday, then to the Jewish club, and they kept the traditions with their mother, etc. Anyhow we don't know what the future will bring.
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Bat mitzvah for the girls we did not do. As for bar mitzvah for the boys: our cousins had theirs at the synagogue and we all went, even the girls. We went to any synagogue they chose, but there was one here, in the neighborhood. Exactly where we now take the bus, it was the Bet Shaoul. The one we go to now, the Monastirioton [9], was at Vardari and it was far from our house, and we didn't go there.

I don't remember any other synagogues than the Bet Shaoul, since the girls didn't go often. We went when there was a marriage, a celebration, or a festivity. Women didn't go to the synagogue as they do now.
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anna schwartzman

When I turned 12 years old, I had a bat mitzvah in the synagogue, and after that my mother took me with her to the synagogue.
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Hanny Hieger

Mit 12 Jahren hatte ich in Wien meine Bat Mitzwah zusammen mit meiner Cousine Alice und meiner Freundin Inge Bräuner. Die Bat Mitzwah fand in der Synagoge in der Tempelgasse im Zweiten Wiener Gemeindebezirk statt. In der Tempelgasse Nummer 5 im Zweiten Wiener Gemeindebezirk stand die "Große Synagoge", die zwischen 1853-1858 in maurischem Stil erbaut wurde. Sie war der größte Tempel Wiens. Am 9. November 1938, in der Reichspogromnacht, wurde sie in Brand gesteckt und zerstört. Nach den Feierlichkeiten in der Synagoge, an der meine Familie und Alices Eltern, Onkel Josef Geiringer und Tante Paula teilnahmen, gingen wir in ein Restaurant in den Prater. Ich weiß noch, daß ich ein Buch über Paula Wessely geschenkt bekam, weil ich sie sehr geliebt habe.
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Maurice Leon

Our grandchildren were raised with more Jewish education than what we had offered to our children. Something that impressed me is that although we have placed the Mezuzah inside our house, our sons have placed it outside. They feel more Jewish than we feel. We are still afraid after what we went through. Our children are not.

All our granddaughters had their bat mitzvah. Our eldest, Yvi, is studying finance in Israel.
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Sylvia Segenreich

Das habe ich alles für Benni gemacht, denn ich habe nur einen Sohn, und ich wollte eine schöne Bar Mitzwa. Für meine Tochter Ada haben wir nur eine kleine Feier gemacht. Es war damals nicht üblich für Mädchen. Ich hätte das selbstverständlich für sie auch gemacht.
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Anna Dremlug

Our Dad had a bar mitzvah for sure, but they didn’t organize any bat mitzvot for us.
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Wygodzka Irena

My husband had one cousin in Israel, who emigrated in the late 1920s. His name was Wygodzki too and he lived in Petach Tikvah [a city in central Israel, north of Tel Aviv-Yaffa], nearby. We met from time to time, not too often. He was religious. When he visited us he’d never eat anything, just drink water. He had a wife, two daughters. He was a calm, very nice man. He worked in a health insurance company, I think. And then they all died.

And from my side, I have a large family in Israel. In addition to my sisters, there are lots of male and female cousins, their children, the second, third generations born there. Bar and bat mitzvahs were always and experience for me there, because I would meet my family.
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