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Jankiel Kulawiec

There was a private Jewish school as well, I can't remember if it was an elementary school or a gymnasium [lyceum] that boys from Orthodox families went to. They could study in Yiddish and the prayers in Hebrew there, but it was not a yeshivah.
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Rafael Genis

In 1940, only Tsilya and Ichil Berko, who were studying at school, and I stayed with our parents. Abram, my brother, died from some contagious disease in 1939. Dovid kept on studying at the yeshivah. Liber was a clock mender. He married a girl called Ida from Radviliskis and lived there. Isroel was apprenticed by Liber and also moved to Radviliskis and lived with Liber's family.
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By that time my elder brothers were working, having finished Jewish school. First, they helped Father and then they started learning some craft. Only the eldest, Dovid, wasn't working. He was eager to become a rabbi and went to a yeshivah in Telsiai.
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elkhonen saks

My grandfather's other son, Moisei, caused him a lot of trouble. He wasn't religious in any way and never visited a synagogue, which upset his father very much. Uncle Moisei finished the Russian high school in Valga, studied jewelry and worked in Valga as a jeweler. When Estonia became an independent republic in 1918, he moved to Tallinn and worked there in a big jewelry workshop. He was well off financially, but, for some reason, he adhered to socialist ideas from childhood. He was one of the active Yiddishists [4] that carried out propaganda among Estonian Jews against Zionism and the emigration of Jews to Israel. They felt that Jews would be all right in any state provided cultural autonomy [5] was created there. Uncle Moisei was firmly convinced of the correctness of the ideas of Marxism-Leninism. He was one of the founders and directors of the leftist organization 'Licht' [German for light] in Estonia. Members of this organization preached the ideology of communism and distributed Marxist literature among Jews. I saw The History of the VKP(b) [6] in Yiddish at Uncle Moisei's house in 1937 with my own eyes.

In 1940 he welcomed the establishment of the Soviet authority in Estonia and was happy with the fact that we would all start a new life. He believed it fair to take property from the rich. He even wanted to transfer all valuables his family possessed to the new regime. However, his wife didn't share his views and hid away some things. Uncle Moisei received a good post - he was appointed the head of a big nationalized jewelry shop. In the same year he went to Mozhaysk to visit his brother. The Soviet reality and the stories of his brother who came back from the labor camp, astounded him. When he returned, it seemed to us that he had been brought down to earth. He didn't speak about Marxist ideology any more.
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My father's parents, Yehuda and Rivke Saks, settled in the small town of Valga in the south of Estlyandskaya province. My grandfather Yehuda was very religious. He only ate kosher food, never worked on Sabbath and read prayers several times a day. For as long as his health permitted him he visited the synagogue on Sabbath and holidays. Grandfather wore the same type of clothes as other residents of our town. An ordinary suit, a coat and a hat. He always wore a kippah at home. He had a thick, but short and well-trimmed beard. He didn't complete a yeshivah but was very well acquainted with all Jewish laws and traditions and observed them very strictly.

My grandfather was a small merchant. He toured around villages on a horse cart and sold various goods to peasants. The family wasn't poor, but neither rich. Grandfather didn't only travel within Estlyandskaya province on his cart, but also across Russia, and he even got to Palestine through Turkey in the 1880s. At that time a lot of Russian Jews emigrated to Palestine, but he decided to see first what the conditions for living in Palestine were like. He came back soon. He found that it was very problematic to move to Palestine with his family and remained in the small Estonian town of Valga. His four sons and daughter were born and grew up there. Their native language was Yiddish. My grandmother Rivke died in 1929 when I was only 2 years old, and I cannot remember her at all. After her death grandfather lived for a few years with our family, and in 1935 he moved to Tallinn where his daughter and one of his sons lived at the time. He passed away in 1943 in evacuation in Samarkand.
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tomasz miedzinski

Gefner had one son, and he very much wanted to give him an education, wanted to send him to Lublin, to the yeshivah. And our cheder was a large room with desks that you could keep a Gemara or prayer book in. There was a blackboard that stood on a stand. There were at least 25 or 30 of us. I don't remember there being any pictures on the walls. In 1936 and 1937 we were given tea, and I remember that the baker would bring us fresh rolls in a basket, and everyone got one for tea.
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Aleksander Ziemny

In Rabka I didn't know anyone of my age who had a traditional religious education; there was no cheder or yeshivah.
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Eli (Eliyau) Perahya

My father was the only subscriber [probably not literally the only subscriber, but there must have been very few of them] in Turkey of Forverts [5], a periodical printed in Yiddish in the U.S.; the periodical came rolled up in a tube. He of course knew Yiddish very well because he had studied at the Hilfsverein Jewish school even though he himself was Sephardic. He liked to read it aloud while simultaneously translating it into French. He kept all the issues. At one time there were so many periodicals piled up at home that I remember quite clearly, my mother telling him, ‘Ya basta, los echaremos’ [Ladino: ‘enough, let’s throw them away’]. Since he was neither very talented in trading nor really interested in it, he wouldn’t go to the shop very often; mostly it was his brother and father who ran the business. Instead he preferred to go to the synagogue and the yeshiva [yeshivah] and have religious discussions with the rabbis and his friends. I probably got my habit of reading and discussing from him and later developed it further with personal effort.
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Vera Stulberger

In Hajdúnánás lernte ich dann meinen Ehemann kennen. Er wurde dort in einer religiösen Familie geboren. Sein Vater hatte eine Fuhrgesellschaft. Sie transportierten mit Pferden, denn damals gab es keinen so großen Autoverkehr wie jetzt. Sie beförderten Güter zwischen Debrecen und Hajdúnánás mit Pferdewagen mit Gummirädern, und sie haben die Händler in Hajdúnánás mit Waren versorgt. Sie fuhren nach Debrecen, und dort kauften sie für sie ein. Er hatte sechs oder sieben Brüder und eine Schwester. Und als die Söhne groß wurden, arbeiteten sie mit dem Vater, später haben nur noch die Söhne gearbeitet. Alle besuchten die religiöse Schule, aber er hatte einen Bruder, der sehr klug war, den wollte man nach der Grundschule ins Gymnasium schicken, damit er studieren konnte. Und dann hat ein reicher Besteller dem Vater gesagt, dass er ihnen keinen Auftrag mehr gibt, wenn der Sohn nicht zur Talmud Schule geht. So schickte man ihn nicht ins Gymnasium sondern in die Talmud Schule - wie all die anderen.
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Aron Neuman

Mein Vater und seine Geschwister besuchten eine russische Schule, weil Wodislaw bis zum 1. Weltkrieg zu Russland gehörte – natürlich gingen sie auch in eine Jeschiwa [1].
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Der Großvater mütterlicherseits hieß Alter Ptasnik. Er wurde 1853 in Dzialoszice [Polen] geboren und war Sägewerksbesitzer. Er war groß, hatte einen langen weißen Bart und ging mit einem Stock. Er lebte in Dzialoszice und war sehr religiös. Selbstverständlich trug er immer einen Hut oder ein Käppi. Da die Großmutter in den 1920er-Jahren gestorben war, lebte er allein in einer kleinen Wohnung. Ich fuhr oft mit dem Fahrrad zu ihm und brachte ihm Lebensmittel. Er hatte eine rabbinische Schule besucht und war soweit ausgebildet, dass er meine Schwester Esther verheiraten konnte, dazu hatte er die Befugnisse. Die Hochzeit fand bei den Eltern in Sendzishow [Polen] statt und war sehr feierlich. Ich kann mich erinnern, wie der Großvater kam und sie traute. Er saß dabei auf einem Sessel, der extra für ihn vorbereitet war. Es wurde Klezmer-Musik gespielt, einer hatte gedichtet und alle besungen. Auch viele Christen waren dabei.
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Ich heiße Aron Neuman und wurde am 17. April 1917 in Wodislaw, in Polen, geboren. Meine Großeltern väterlicherseits habe ich nicht kennen gelernt, sie waren schon tot, als ich geboren wurde. Der Großvater hieß Rubin Neuman, an den Namen der Großmutter kann ich mich nicht erinnern. Ich weiß, dass sie beide sehr religiös waren. Der Großvater hatte in Wodislaw einen Lederwaren Großhandel. Meine Großeltern sprachen jiddisch. Sie hatten viele Kinder, es waren vielleicht acht Geschwister. Alle Kinder wurden streng religiös erzogen. Mein Vater und seine Geschwister besuchten eine russische Schule, weil Wodislaw bis zum 1. Weltkrieg zu Russland gehörte – natürlich gingen sie auch in eine Jeschiwa [1].
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Beno Ruso

My father was in the hospital and then they moved him back home where he died.
I was there when he died. I remember it. During the night the family kept vigil. Since my older brother wasn’t at home I was the main person with my mother at the catafalque before they buried him. There was a special place, near the Jewish church [synagogue] the main synagogue in the Jewish quarter, for this. Behind the church there was a special space for those who had died. It was almost in the middle of the quarter, near the bridge. He died at home and then was taken to this special place. I attended my father’s funeral. Since my older brother was in non-commissioned officers’ school in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia [probably Serbia] he came and left soon after the funeral. The custom among Jews is that the every morning for a month one should go to the prayers. So I went as the head of the family.

This was hard for me. First I had to learn to read the Hebrew. I didn’t understand it but I had to read it. So, I had to learn to read it. Every morning I had to go. A hakham, that is a an assistant for those religious works in the synagogue, came and picked me up. The service lasted an hour or two and then I went home. He came and picked me up so that I didn’t skip it. He was our closest neighbor back when we lived in grandfather’s house. Neighbors at that time meant more than relatives, they were respected. Every morning he came and picked me up and when it was over he had some other work there so I went home by myself. For a month. It was hard to do this. My mother wasn’t strict [about religious observance]. But my father’s sister, Mato, was. She was backwards with respect to religious things. And I could not avoid her. I had to go. She organized that someone pick me up and make sure that I went.
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Michal Nadel

If somebody was particularly gifted, then after cheder, if he could afford it, he would go to a yeshivah. Usually you would start a yeshivah at the age of eleven, twelve. Depending on the talents of a student. In yeshivah there were no diplomas, certificates, like in other schools, but depending on your talents you would go up a level. Only at the end, if you passed certain exams, you would get a rabbinical diploma.
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Julian Gringras

We didn’t go to cheder or yeshivah, because my parents didn’t hold with religious schools.
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