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Gracia Albuhaire

Almost all of my generation, the middle-aged or even the youngest ones, in the Jewish community know me. They ask me to read books or recite poems for them. I have recited poems in Ladino when there were guests from Israel. I think that people have respect for me. Nowadays I regularly visit the Bet Am. I am happy with the life within the Bet Am now. We have different celebrations and gather on different occasions. The time I need for personal amusement and recreation I usually spend in the Bet Am. Some of its initiatives are financially supported by the Joint because the Jews that live here don't have many financial possibilities.
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Our wedding was in December 1945. We had a civil marriage. Everything was bought with coupons and we couldn't buy anything from the market in order to prepare ourselves for the modest party. My husband still worked in the mill, where, despite the prohibition, his sister had worked as an accountant in his place during the war, as he was in the labor camps. From there he was given some pork guts, from which we cooked meatballs. We found a kilogram of semolina somewhere and made artificial caviar - with onion, red pepper and a little vinegar. There was no sugar to make sweets. It was something extraordinary when we first received support from the Joint [14] - orange juice. We saved it for our daughter, so that she could taste it. In the evening they came to our home to have a modest celebration. That was it - our wedding.
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Peter Reisz

Right after the war, my mother worked for the Joint Kitchen on Zichy Street, where the congregation was, and where Joint had a home. We went there every day, because there we could get something to eat. Through Joint I got into a Zionist home belonging to Hashomer Hatzair, where they intensively prepared us to go to Israel.  It was a live-in school, as if we were in a kibbutz.  I went from there to regular school in the mornings. Afternoons and also during the summer and winter breaks, they taught us in the home.  We learned dances, we learned songs, we learned Israel’s history, and Hebrew.  When there was a break, we were prepared for the holidays.  We would talk about what the holidays mean.  And we went to camp every year.  At camp we would go for walks, play, listen to lectures, and learn songs.  My parents were happy that I was at camp because at home we didn’t have enough to eat, and at camp they took good care of me.  But then I stopped going, because I couldn’t stand leaving my parents.
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Franziska Smolka

Meine Mutter hatte dann mit der Kultusgemeinde in Graz Kontakt. Wir bekamen dann vom Joint [Anm.: wichtigste amerikanische Hilfsorganisation für Juden in der ganzen Welt], Pakete mit Lebensmitteln. Das war sehr hilfreich für die Familie.
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Rifca Segal

I started working in 1947 and I worked until 1986. At first, I worked at a home for children, it was called Andrei Bernat, it belonged to a Jewish organization, as it was subsidized by Joint – I was hired as assistant accountant, for I had no studies – but they weren’t required back then, they required you to know your job. I worked there until 1950.
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After World War II, it was the Joint [12] who helped us. We were very poor. The Joint founded a canteen in Botosani in 1945. And my father, poor soul, he had a superb handwriting, it was very beautiful, and very accurate, and at first he was hired at the canteen as administrator, then he was in charge of primary book-keeping, and I don’t know exactly what other position he had there. I believe this canteen was open until 1948.
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Gitli Alhalel

All Jews in Bulgaria were watched closely before 1989. The Jewish community could not gather on any occasion, even on our high holidays – in the Jewish home or in the synagogue. In other words, we had to ask for permission some of the structures of the Communist Party. Our properties were also nationalized [that is, the properties of the Organization of Jews in Bulgaria ‘Shalom’ [32]]. After 10th November 1989 [33] the situation improved. Then the contradictory restitution law was adopted. It was unfair to the individual citizens but helped our organization. Let me be more specific. Some of our fellow citizens living in Sofia did not own any properties, except the flat owned by the municipality, which they rented. When the law came into force, those people were thrown out on the street by policemen, who threw out their belongings without waiting for the municipality to give them another place to stay. Those flats were returned to their previous owners, who already had a number of flats. That is why I said that the law was unfair. On the other hand, it is not a bad law because it returned the properties of the Organization of Jews, which were nationalized after 9th September 1944. Let’s also not forget that after 10th November 1989 ‘Joint’ [34] and the respective foundation from Switzerland sent us aid during the economic crisis and high inflation. Of course, I see the benefit from the changes and approve of them.
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Leizer Finchelstein

The Jewish Community was organized only later on. Certainly, the Community as an institution existed before the war as well, but I’m referring to the period when it was modernized. This happened in Iasi in the 1960’s-1970’s under the presidency of pharmacist Simion Caufman. A social care service was organized then, there was a choir for young people, and many other things. That’s when Joint [20] aid started to arrive; we benefited from it and still do to this day. We are nowadays assisted by the Community and we benefit from free medical care; we also receive certain food parcels when they are distributed. So we thank God that we are thus able to get by.
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