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baby pisetskaya

There was a substantial Jewish population in the town at the beginning of the 20th century. They were involved in commerce and crafts. There were tailors, barbers and shoemakers among the Jewish population. There were a few synagogues and a shochet in town. There is a popular park called Sophievka in Uman, it was founded by Count Felix Pototsky at the end of the 18th century.
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Rafael Genis

Our house was on the central street called Kvedarnos. That street name has been kept. Our town was Jewish. More than a half of the three-thousand strong population were Jews. It is hard to remember everybody, but I still can recall some last names. Gorol sold hardware, tiles, rolled iron; Katz dealt in textile. There were three restaurants in our town, owned by the Jews Lurie and Rodinkovich and a Lithuanian, Eliosius. Every Friday, Lithuanian workers went out partying. There was also a Jewish intelligentsia. Jacques was considered to be the best doctor. We bought the medicine in Friedman's pharmacy. There was one synagogue in our town. It was attended by Jews every day, especially on Jewish holidays and Sabbath.
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avram sadikario

There was no special rabbi for each synagogue; instead there was one rabbi for the whole city. Each synagogue had two or three hakhamim. There was one rabbi for all of Bitola. The first rabbi I remember was Rabbi Djaen. He was a great man. He was a rabbi but he knew a lot of things. He was very tall and handsome. He wore a robe; he also wore modern dress to formal events. He wrote six or seven dramas in Ladino that were performed throughout Yugoslavia, including Sarajevo. [Editor's note: In 1922 he published three plays, 'Jiftah,' 'Deborah' and 'The Daughters of the Sun.' All of his plays were based on biblical themes or about Jewish life. He gave 10 percent of the proceeds of the plays to Keren Kayemet Leisrael. Source: Zeni Lebl] His plays were performed for Purim and Passover, but I don't know what they were about. He organized the building of the Jewish cemetery in Bitola. He collected money in South America for the Jews of Bitola. He gave it to the community and they distributed it to the poor Jews of Bitola. He was religious or at least he looked like he was.

We children were very sad when he left Bitola. When he walked down the street he used to give the children four or five roasted chickpeas from his pockets. When Rabbi Djaen walked down the street his shammash, the servant of the community, that is the temple, would follow 20-30 steps behind. When he saw someone playing marbles he would say, 'Shammash, quickly go over there, so that they don't play anymore, they should go and study.' Rabbi Djaen was very authoritative; we all loved him. He was the chief rabbi in Romania after Bitola. When the Jews of Romania were deported he was caught. But the Italians or Spaniards managed to save him. And afterwards he went to South America. My wife, Dzamila, wrote an article about Djaen, but it wasn't published because someone else wrote one too.

After Rabbi Djaen came Moric Romano's father [Rabbi Avram Romano] [6]. He was the opposite of Djaen in all respects. He was very quiet, modest. He didn't yell at people while he was walking down the street. People were not scared of him. Romano was very well-educated and he wasn't religious. He pretended to teach us religious lessons. He did not teach us one thing about religion during these lessons. He never mentioned G-d. When the principal would come to our religion class and ask, 'what are you teaching,' he would say, 'Look, prayers and he would sing some song. Not a prayer.' He came to our last class and said, 'I never mentioned G-d or religion during these classes. Religion is a private thing. It is for you to decide.' He never said it, but he was not a believer. He gave lectures and sermons, but he avoided giving them a religious character. Rabbi Romano's son, Moric Romano, is still alive in Skopje.

It was almost the same shammash for the whole time that Djaen was there. When Djaen left, Romano also had a shammash, but he didn't walk down the streets with him and make a scene. Romano didn't [walk down the streets like that]. He was modest. The shammash's job was to take care of the synagogue. He took care of the things in the synagogue during Sabbath. He made sure all was well in the temple. Then people didn't go to the synagogue only on Saturdays; they went in the mornings and evenings too. The temple was always alive. I don't remember the shammash's name, but I can see his face.
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There were four synagogues in Bitola. Before me there were probably more, but in my time there were only four. I assume that when there were more Jews there were more synagogues. [Editor's note: The other large old synagogue in Bitola, El Kal de Portugal, burned down during WWI.]

The big temple in Bitola was called Aragon. It was very beautiful. It wasn't so big because there weren't that many Jews, but it was very beautiful, especially the interior. One third went to Aragon, about 1,000, and the remaining two thirds went to the other temples. Another synagogue was called Havra [El Kal de la Havra Kadisha]. Everyone chose which temple they went to, but once they chose they only went to that one. Those who lived near Aragon went to Aragon. During the occupation Aragon was used as a pigsty [and slaughterhouse]; they fed pigs there. After the war one idiot, whose name I don't remember, demolished all of Jevrejska mala. [Editor's note: Its remnants were dynamited in 1947.]

Havra was a little further away, close to the border with the Christian neighborhoods. I went to Havra. It wasn't that beautiful, but it was OK. This temple was a special building erected to be a temple. The morning prayers were in the lower part of the temple. Everyone had their own seat on flat wooden benches in rows. The rabbi stood on a raised tevah. They read the prayers primarily in Hebrew. The prayer books were also in Hebrew. Everyone sang together. It was still standing until a few years ago. It was used as a warehouse. And since they didn't take care of it, it started to fall apart and then it had to be destroyed. [Editor's note: According to Mark Cohen this synagogue did not survive the war.]

There were other smaller temples, one was called Hamore Levi, but I don't remember the names of the others. [Editor's note: the names of the other synagogues in Bitola up to WWII were: El Kal de haham Jichak Levi (this was a beautiful temple next to the donor's house; El Kal de Shlomo Levi (this was in the donor's house, it did not survive the war); El Kal de Jahiel Levi (in a space dedicated for this purpose); El Kal de Ozer Dalim (in a special building donated by the Aruti family, this one fell to ruins in 1950); a temple for the youth in a school building and a temple in the Los Kurtizos neighborhood. Sources: Zeni Lebl and Mark Cohen]

Noritas was the place where women went in the temple. Women didn't go to the temple together with men. They sat upstairs by themselves. There wasn't a lot of room up there. There wasn't a lot of room because they didn't go that often anyway, but they went for the high holidays, like Yom Kippur. It was totally separate from the temple, but it looked onto the temple. All temples had them.

Big kids went to the temple but little kids did not.
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We lived in what was called 'Jevrejska mala' [Jewish district]. It wasn't a ghetto, but all the Jews lived there; there was no mixing between Jews and non-Jews. All of our neighbors were Jews. It wasn't forbidden for Jews to live outside the quarter; it was just like that. The Jewish quarter bordered on the center of town. There were no Ashkenazi Jews in Bitola when I was a kid. The Jews called it Monastir, but it was actually called Bitola. [Editor's note: During the Ottoman period the town was called Monastir, when Macedonia was annexed to Serbia (1913), it was renamed officially as Bitola, the Jews, however, continued calling it by its old name.]

Typical Jewish parts of the city were La Tabane, Il Bustaniku and Los Kortizos [Jewish neighborhoods]. The poorest lived in Los Kortezus. It means yard in Ladino. It was terrible there. One third of the population lived there. The people lived outside in fields. The poorest slept outside in the summer time. During the winter they slept inside. It was tight but they managed. We lived in a middle class section called Il Bustanika. Bustanika is a Ladino expression for a small garden. Another neighborhood was called La Tabane. La Tabane I cannot translate. There were poor people where we lived, as well as in La Tabane, but Los Kortizos was the poorest. Ciflik was another poor neighborhood. The Jewish community built about 15 rooms and one family lived in each room in a yard. This was near Bajir, the northern section of the city. Jews and non-Jews lived in Bajir. So Bajir cannot be considered a Jewish part of the city. Non-Jews didn't refer to these neighborhoods with these names; instead they used the street names: Asadbegova Street, Karadjordjeva. But they did call it Jevrejska mala, the Jewish quarter. One half was poor and one half middle class.

Ten wealthy Jewish families lived in a section called Korzo, outside of the Jewish section. My wife [Dzamila Kolonomos] is from one of these rich families that lived outside. All the rich people lived outside the Jewish quarter, but they came to the quarter. They were Jews but not that religious. My wife's father was the director of a bank. He was a very good man and helped a lot. They lived much better than us.
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gabor paneth

My father's youngest brother Jeno was the closest to my father. He maintained his Orthodox life style but moved to Budapest. He lived in the Jewish quarter of the town and worked as a melamed. His wife Margit wore a shaytl (wig). They had two daughters. Marta was a Zionist and she made aliya (emigrated to Israel) at the age of 16 in 1941. Her sister Edit married an architect who, as I remember my father saying, was somewhat of a caricature of the Orthodox Jew. He was loudly religious but didn't really seem to know that much. However, when they made aliya with their five children in 1957, they settled in one of the most Orthodox areas in Israel, in Bnei Brak. Jeno and Margit also left for Israel in 1951 and settled on a kibbutz.
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Margarita Kamiyenovskaya

My mother went to a private Realschule [2] in Kiev. She did well and finished a full course there. This is all I know about my mother's childhood. Her family lived in Kiev. She told me about the Jewish pogroms [see Pogroms in Ukraine] [3], which had taken place in Ukraine before the revolution [see Russian Revolution of 1917] [4] and during the Civil War [5].Once my maternal grandfather was chased by pogrom-makers. He barely reached his friend's house. He even lost his rubber boots on the way. He spent the night at his friend's place after having called home. There were a lot of Jews in that district. There was a military unit in the vicinity. The Jews collected money and paid the soldiers monthly so that they maintained order. After that no pogroms took place in that district.
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Eva Ryzhevskaya

My father's parents lived in the Ukrainian village of Pismennoye, Dnepropetrovsk oblast, located 100 kilometers from Dnepropetrovsk [450 km from Kiev]. Dnepropetrovsk oblast was included in the [Jewish] Pale of Settlement [1], and there were a lot of truly Jewish towns. Pismennoye was a Ukrainian village. There was only one Jewish family in that village - my father's.
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Henrich Kurizkes

My parents got married after my father moved to Tallinn. They got acquainted at a party and got married in 1922. They had a traditional Jewish wedding. All local Jews had traditional weddings. Wealthy or poor, there was a chuppah and a ketubbah issued by a local synagogue. Religion was an integral part of the life of Jewish families at the time.

There was a large Jewish community in Tallinn. There were many wealthy Jews, big businessmen and store owners. They contributed significant amounts of money to charity. There were Jewish craftsmen: tinsmiths, barbers and tailors. There were many Jewish lawyers, doctors and teachers. When Estonia gained independence [3], and the first Estonian Republic [4] was established, the higher educational institutions canceled the Jewish quota and Jews got greater access to higher education.

The Jewish community was very proud of the Tallinn synagogue [5]. Built at the end of the 19th century, it was very beautiful.

There was no Jewish neighborhood or Jewish street in Tallinn. Jewish houses were scattered all across the town. There were wealthier houses in the central part of the city where land was more expensive, and the poorer settled down in the suburbs.

Jews faced no anti-Semitism in Estonia. In 1926 the Jewish Cultural Autonomy [6], giving more extensive rights to Jews, was established. There were various Jewish organizations in Tallinn, including the Women's Zionist Organization, WIZO [7], children's and young people's organizations, such as Betar [8] and Hashomer Hatzoir [9], the Maccabi sport club [10] and others. Jews enjoyed many freedoms.
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tili solomon

Our neighbors were Jewish. There weren't more than four or five Christian families in the entire neighborhood, from Podul Ros, Bahlui River, to the Marzescu School. It would have been inconceivable otherwise. Ninety-five percent of the inhabitants on Socola Street were Jews. The entire neighborhood was like that. Further away, towards Targul Cucului, on Aron Voda Street, where my maternal grandparents lived, it was the same thing. In fact, these were the two neighborhoods inhabited only by Jews.
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As far as I remember, Iasi had many synagogues and prayer houses. Counting from Podul Ros to the Marzescu School, no, I don't even go as far as the Marzescu School, to Tesatura [factory], there were at least ten synagogues, well, prayer houses, where my parents used to go. There were four of them only in a small corner. Further away, after Targul Cucului [Editor's note: quarter of Iasi, where the Jewish population was predominant until World War II], there were others: two or three on Halei Street, and just as many on Independentei Boulevard, which was called I. C. Bratianu back then. The one at Kantarski survived for a long time. Not to mention the Cahane synagogue on Stefan cel Mare Boulevard: this was only demolished in the communist period, in the process of urban systematization [see Systematic demolitions] [6]. Today there are only two synagogues left in Iasi, both of them Orthodox [7]. One of them is the Great Synagogue in Targul Cucului, where a service is held only on Saturdays. I think there is also a Friday evening service in the other synagogue, on Palat Street, where the few Jews from Podul Ros gather.
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Most of the city's population was Jewish. There were a few neighborhoods inhabited exclusively by Jews. On Sarariei Street, Christians were predominant, but certain quarters had only Jews. Very few of us were devout: a few women wore wigs and few men wore caftans and payes. But my family, like most of the Jewish population, observed the Mosaic religion to a great extent.
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Nachman Elencwajg

In Bobrujsk we encountered a strange situation. We have arrived and we ask around in the Jewish quarter about Uncle Aaron. Everyone just walks away in silence.
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Matilda Cerge

My family has lived in Dorcol [1] for more than 200 years. As far as I know they fled from Spain [see Expulsion of the Jews from Spain] [2]. I don't know how they got here, but I do know that they lived in the Balkans. I assume they came via Istanbul, and they came and stayed in Serbia while it was still under the Turks.

[Editor's note: On the border between the Ottoman and Habsburg empires, the city passed back and forth several times between the two great powers, in the 17th and 18th centuries, but remained primarily under Turkish control until the Serbian independence movement began in the early 19th century Source: 'The Jews of Yugoslavia: A Quest for Community,' Harriet Pass Freidenreich]

That was most likely at least 200 years ago. They lived here in Dorcol, the Jewish section. Jews lived on Solunska Street, Visokog Stevan Street, Gospodar Jovanova Street, where we lived, and so on. They didn't have to live there, that's just how they settled and lived. It wasn't like a ghetto, it was voluntary.

[Editor's note: There is evidence that Romanioti, Jews who followed the Romans and were neither Ashkenazi nor Sephardic, lived in Belgrade already in the 13th century. Source: 'Until the Final Solution Jews in Belgrade 1521-1942,' Zeni Lebl.
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Amalia Laufer

Kabaki was a Ukrainian village. There weren't many Jews there and no synagogue or cheder in the village. About seven kilometers away was Kuty village whose inhabitants were Jews in their majority. There was a synagogue and a cheder in this village. In Kabaki there were only ten Jewish families.
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