Selected Topic

211 results

elvira kohn

I lived with my mother until her death in 1977. The two of us were very close, and it was difficult for me when she died. I was left alone; I had no relatives, no family of my own. I was also in a dilemma as to how to bury my mother. It was a very difficult decision for me to make.

Many JNA officials and my co-workers came to my mother's funeral. Some gave a speech. I couldn't have a rabbi bury her in front of the party members. And I couldn't have the party members speak in front of a rabbi. The two don't go together. So at last I decided not to have a rabbi at the funeral. It wasn't easy, but there was no other choice. I wasn't allowed to have a Jewish funeral for my mother.

But I did something else. I arranged with the community that for the whole first month after my mother's death, the Kaddish was recited for her every Friday and Saturday. That was something I could do. Even though all the officials knew that I was Jewish, and that my mother was Jewish, I couldn't have both, the Party and the rabbi, at the funeral. And even though I had been retired since 1964, and my mother died in 1977, I was still in the same circle of people, shared the same spirit, and thus wasn't allowed to. That was the spirit of the time.
See text in interview
A young boy, riding on a bicycle, ran into my brother and knocked him down. My brother fell, hit the curbstone with his head, and died. That was in 1937. It was a terrible shock for the whole family. He was buried in Belgrade in a Jewish cemetery. Although this was a tragedy, I know where his grave is today; had he lived a little longer, the Germans would have killed him and I wouldn't know.
See text in interview

baby pisetskaya

In 1954 my grandfather got into a car accident when crossing a street alone. He died. He had a Jewish funeral and was buried near my grandmother's grave. The Kaddish was recited by a Jew invited from the Jewish cemetery.
See text in interview
My grandmother Riva died in 1953. She had a Jewish funeral and was buried in the Jewish cemetery. Since neither my father nor Uncle Izia could pray there was a man invited to recite the Kaddish and my mother sat shivah.
See text in interview
Grandfather Yakov died of throat cancer in 1948. He was buried in the Jewish cemetery in Boguslav.
See text in interview
During the Great Patriotic War Semyon was at the front and his wife and their children were in Moscow. Semyon returned home after the war. He died after an eye surgery in the late 1970s. There happened to be a tumor in his eye. He was buried in the Jewish cemetery in Moscow.
See text in interview

Mico Alvo

The funerals would be exactly the same as the Christian funerals used to be. At the time the coffin would be carried by horses. Four to six horses would be up the front and draw the coffin. They also used to dress the horses with something mournful on their heads. The people would follow on foot until the end. They would start the walk from their house and they would all go together. Right behind the hearse the closer family would follow and further back the friends. There were usually many people. I went to Grandfather Alvo's funeral. I went at the back. They wouldn't allow women to be at the burying ceremony. Sometimes women fainted only because of their sorrow.

After the war they would often start from the synagogue, especially in Athens. But here things are very different. As soon as death is certified you contact the funeral office, they come with the hearse, take the dead man and put him in a cooler. Two or three hours before the funeral, they take him out. Before they put him in a coffin, the cleaning of the dead takes place. There are some men and some women that do this job. The men wash the male corps, and the women the female corps. They wash them very well and they rub them with something and in the end they wrap them in a sheet. The dead man is wrapped in a white shroud and put in the coffin.

Then they take him to this venue in the cemetery. The venue is quite small and it doesn't fit many people. Only very close relatives go there, and the people that come to the funeral go and greet the relatives, and some close friends sit there, too. A ceremony is held during which the rabbi reads for not longer than twenty minutes. Then they leave the venue. They take the coffin on their shoulders and move it where the burial will take place, to the grave that has been opened in advance.

Then the burial takes place and the dead is taken out of the coffin. When they place him in the grave the head goes inside a hole and the rest of the body goes on the earth. Before the war, the same thing must have been taking place. I remember going to a funeral before the war, but I don't remember being at the burial.

The old cemetery used to have graves here and there. Now, in the new cemetery, it is not the same, it's completely different. You get the impression that you are in a military cemetery. All the graves are the same; one is not allowed to make a richer grave than others. Here in Thessaloniki, that is, because in Athens it's a different story. They make the graves as they like there. We say that at least in death, there should be no difference. At the old cemetery there were differences.

Death used to be regarded as a much more natural thing than it is today. Due to the fact that they didn't have so many medicines back then as we do today, or as many doctors, it was something much more normal. Deaths rarely would take place in hospitals; they were taking place almost always at home.

I remember members of the family going to the cemetery to visit the graves. There are certain days in our religion when one should go and visit. Until the time that they start to shear the sheep, one shouldn't go, from Passover until then.
See text in interview

Rafael Genis

Once in the summer of 1933 I ran up to Grandpa. He was panting and asked me to raise him up. I raised his pillow and suddenly he grunted and then calmed down. He practically died in my arms. I was ten, but still I was a rather grown-up boy. At any rate, I wasn't frightened and called for the adults right away. Grandpa was buried in accordance with the Jewish rites. I was present at his funeral and remember it very well. Grandpa was lying on the floor with his feet to the door and Jews were sitting around him and praying. Then they covered him with a shroud with what looked like overalls covering his feet, put him on a large sheet and carried him across the whole town to the cemetery. Wide boards were placed by the sides of the pit. Grandpa was put in the grave in that sheet. Right before he was put in his grave, they placed small branches between his fingers, which allegedly should help him get up on Doomsday when the dead rise up from their graves. They put pieces of clay on his eyes, when he had already been placed in the tomb. Then they covered him with a large board and put earth on top of it. There was mourning - shivah - for seven days.
See text in interview

avram sadikario

La mortaza was the special clothing that was made before a person died [kitel in the Ashkenazi tradition]. Everyone had their own mortaza, women and men. Women sewed them. It wasn't any great clothing, just something to wrap a person in when he dies. We sang special prayers and there was a special book of them just for the dead. Only men went to the cemetery. A woman was never permitted to go to the cemetery. Women cried and sang special prayers at home.

After a funeral we sat at home seven days, lasijeti, which means to sit for seven days [shivah]. For seven days we didn't sit on chairs rather on the floor. We didn't do anything. Our relatives brought us food. I was about 17 when my grandfather died. For seven days the mourners were served. I don't remember that I sat these seven days when my grandfather died.
See text in interview

Alexandra Ribush

Grandpa always took their tricks very seriously and scolded them severely. By the end of his life he started to limp and walked with a cane. I know about grandpa only from what my mother and grandma told me. He died in 1925, three years before I was born. He was buried in the Jewish cemetery in Pskov. A monument in the form of a sea-shell was placed on his grave. I don't know if the grave in Pskov is still there. Germans were on that territory and I doubt that the Jewish cemetery is still preserved today.
See text in interview

Margarita Kamiyenovskaya

I got married after the war. I don't remember how I met my husband. Roubin Kamiyenovskiy was born in Tartu and graduated from Tartu University. He was a Jew. Before the Soviet regime came to power, I often attended students' dancing parties, arranged by the university. We probably met there. Later, when I went to Tartu on business trips, Roubin went to Tallinn. I can't remember how many years passed. My memory fails me now. After graduating from university, Roubin became a lawyer and worked as legal counselor. When the war was unleashed, he was drafted in the lines. With the foundation of the Estonian Rifle Corps [31], Roubin was transferred there. He had served in the corps until Victory Day, but in 1945 he wasn't demobilized. He was still serving in the army as a lieutenant. We got married when Roubin was in the army. We went to the marriage registration office and he said that he had to be off to the military unit on the same day. We didn't have a Jewish wedding.

My father-in-law was very pious and he didn't forgive us. Roubin's elder brother had a true Jewish wedding under a chuppah, carried out by a rabbi. My father-in-law used to say that he had only one daughter-in-law, the wife of his elder son. Only after my husband's death, at his funeral, his father said that I had been married for three years and even if I had lived with his son for 30 years, I wouldn't have been able to do more than I had done in those three years. Roubin was afflicted with quinsy. He didn't stay in bed and had a complication on the endocardium. He was sick for two years, mostly staying in hospital. It was dreadful. The conditions in the hospital are much to be deplored now, but back in that time they were simply inhuman. Then his front-line comrade was appointed the Minister of Health of Estonia. I had an appointment with him and he made arrangements for Roubin to be transferred to a governmental hospital. The conditions were much better there, but it was of no help. I was at work during the day and at night I was on duty in the hospital, staying by my husband's bed. It was scary. Roubin died in that hospital in 1951.
See text in interview

Lily Arouch

My mother died on 20th June 1973 after a fatal accident, and my father died on 16th May 1976 of a heart attack. Both funerals were held in the Jewish Cemetery of Athens, according to the Jewish laws and traditions. My parents- in-law are buried in the Jewish Cemetery of Thessalonica. A Kaddish was recited and we still keep 'the day of remembrance of the dead', Yom Hashoah [Holocaust Remembrance Day].
See text in interview

tili solomon

When my father-in-law died in the 1980s my husband was still working, but he went to the synagogue every day for a whole year, in the mornings and evenings, to recite the Kaddish. He did that for his mother too. Once a year we organized a Yahrzeit, the commemoration of a departed member of the family. I would prepare a pound cake and bottle of wine and took them to the synagogue. We used to go to the cemetery before the holidays, especially before the high holidays. This is how we understood to observe the tradition and pay respect to the dead.
See text in interview
  • loading ...