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elvira kohn

There was a Jewish community in Vinkovci and in general there was a rich and lively Jewish life. We celebrated Chanukkah and Purim together and had parties on holidays. Those took place in the cultural center in Vinkovci, not in the community building.

I assume that there wasn't enough space in the community building for such celebrations because a lot of people came to celebrate. The Jews were the ones who organized and participated in the celebrations, of course. We gave performances on Chanukkah and Purim. It was customary to dress up and put on masks for Purim. We danced, sang Jewish songs and socialized with other Jews, our friends, and always had a good time.

Within the Jewish community there was also a Jewish Youth Club and I was a member. We used to meet in the community building and talked, learned some Hebrew and some Jewish history, exchanged knowledge and ideas, or just spent time together. Sometimes we had visits from the youth of the Jewish Community Vukovar or from other Jewish communities, or we went to visit them.

Then we interacted with our fellow Jews and spoke about Jewish life in other places. That was always interesting and I enjoyed meeting with Jews from other places. We had many lectures and discussions on ideas about creating a Jewish state. I suppose that we were Zionist-oriented and nurtured the Zionist ideology. There were no summer camps, not that I remember, but we organized inter-town visits and exchange.
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Mico Alvo

Daniel's relationship with religion and tradition was a very distant one. I never saw him going to the synagogue. Maybe he went and I wasn't aware of it.
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Grandfather Haim didn't participate in Community affairs at all, as he wasn't one of the important members of it.

I cannot say that his was a religious family. Here things were loose. There were many that were religious, but there wasn't any fanaticism, none at all. Of course everyone would keep the Yom Kippur fast. Grandfather Haim might have gone to the synagogue every Saturday, because every neighborhood had a synagogue. And this way it wasn't difficult to go. Thessaloniki had about forty synagogues [4]. The elders would go. Haim used to go to the synagogue Sarfati, on Gravias Street, because it was close to his house.

My maternal grandfather I remember used to get up at five in the morning every day. He would read until six and he would then go to work. Haim didn't do that. He was more liberal. Still, they kept all religious feasts. Other traditions that Haim kept, but my father later didn't, was that unlike my father, Haim ate kosher food, didn't mix milk with meat etc.
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I cannot say that his was a religious family. Here things were loose. There were many that were religious, but there wasn't any fanaticism, none at all.
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Olga's education was like my father's. She spoke Ladino, French, and Greek. Not really good Greek, like my father. Olga was married to an Ashkenazi, whose name was Bernard Landau. They got married here in Thessaloniki. They must have gotten married close to the time of my mother's and father's wedding, around 1920. He was a sales representative. He was fluent in German. And his sister was a midwife and she helped with the birth of all the children of the family. Her name was Karolina.

Olga lived in Thessaloniki opposite her mother's house on Koromila Street. They had their own house. Bernard stood quite well economically. He was a sales representative and was taking a commission that at the time was 5 percent. His job was very interesting and at the time you could get a lot of money by this profession. He knew many German brands as he was an Ashkenazi and fluent in German. They would travel to Germany and get the exclusivity of a brand and import it.

I suppose that Olga wasn't religious either, nor was her husband who was an Ashkenazi..
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Margarita Kamiyenovskaya

I had been bilingual since childhood. My father always spoke German to me and my mother spoke Russian. So, it's hard for me to say which of these languages I consider to be my native. Both of those languages were my first. Of course, soon I became fluent in Estonian living in an Estonian environment and playing with Estonian children. Nobody spoke Yiddish at home.

I can't say that my parents were religious. Some Jewish traditions were definitely observed. My father always contributed money to charity. Though rarely, my father did go to the synagogue. I don't know on which days. It seems to me that my mother didn't go to the synagogue except on Yom Kippur. It was the only holiday we always marked at home the way it was supposed to be. We conducted the kapores rite, but we didn't do it with a living hen, but with money. Then we took that money to the synagogue for indigent people. We obligatorily fasted all day long on Yom-Kippur in accordance with the tradition. I still fast on Yom-Kippur. On Yom Kippur my parents used to spend almost the whole day in the synagogue. I also went to the synagogue on that day, but not for the whole day. At home dishes of Jewish cuisine were cooked, such as chicken broth, and gefilte fish. We had matzah on Pesach, we didn't eat bread. We didn't mark any other Jewish holidays at home.
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Lily Arouch

My grandchildren in Athens are less involved in Jewish life, as they live far from the center, although their parents are active community members. My granddaughters are not very religious or traditional but it doesn't bother me, as parents are the ones to judge what is best for their own children. All my grandchildren attended the Jewish elementary school.
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He was reading all sorts of books: literature and even political books, but not religious ones; my family wasn't very religious.
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I guess she was very traditional but not religious. She wasn't very talkative, but she was very active within her household, she took very good care of us and was very important in our house. We lived in a house in the center of the city, so my family wasn't in a very Jewish environment; I guess the environment was more the Orthodox Christian environment of Thessalonica.

My grandmother didn't have much of a relationship with the neighbors but she was always waiting for Saturday when her daughters and grandchildren would visit; visitors were always a cause for celebration in the house. She used to live with us, but unfortunately she was taken to a concentration camp.
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Rifka Vostrel

Jewish religion and religions in general don't have an impact on our daily lives. My sister and I are both atheists. We are aware of our roots and are very proud of them, but don't practice religion. Our children and grandchildren know that they have Jewish mothers and grandmothers, but how they live is their own choice. We told them the truth about their origin and they can do with that whatever they want to!
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Bluma Lepiku

We spoke several languages at home. My grandmothers and my parents communicated in Yiddish. Besides, my parents taught my sister and me German and Estonian. Actually, we learned Estonian playing with other children, and our governess Jenny was teaching us German. We also spoke Russian at home. Young girls from Pechory, a Russian town located on the border of Estonia and Russia, used to take up housekeeping jobs in Estonia. We also had one such housemaid. We heard our mother speaking Russian to her. My sister picked some Russian, but I couldn't speak any Russian.

Our father was not involved in raising the children or any household duties. My mother was responsible for raising the children and keeping the house. My father brought money home, and it was my mother's part to take good care of it. My mother was always alone at home at night. My father played at night-time. My mother and my grandmother became good friends. They went to theaters and concerts together. My grandmother liked my mother dearly. However, my two grandmothers did not get along. This is the case, when they say they were at daggers drawn with one another.

My mother was raised to strictly observe Jewish traditions. My father was not particularly religious, though his mother was a very religious woman. We followed the kashrut at home. My mother did the cooking herself, and all food was kosher. As for my father, he did not follow the kashrut. He had meals at restaurants and told us he commonly ordered pork carbonade or chops with fried potatoes and a shot of vodka. He believed having a delicious meal was more important than kashrut. As for my mother, she followed the kashrut strictly. We never had pork at home: we only ate beef, veal and poultry.

My father ate this kind of food at home. My mother was religious. My mother and my grandmother went to the synagogue on Sabbath and Jewish holidays. There was a large choral synagogue [7] in Tallinn. Men were on the lower floor, and women sat on the balcony. Mama always celebrated Sabbath at home. She made a festive dinner, lit candles and prayed.

On Saturday afternoon my grandmother invited us to a festive lunch. My grandmother was a terrific cook, and I still cook what I liked eating at my grandmother's. She always made Jewish kugel with ground potatoes, onions, pepper and spices, all mixed and baked in the stove. I remember how my grandmother's kugel was rolling in fat, and when taken out of the stove, it was 'shedding' the drops of goose fat like tears. Kugel and chicken broth - this was so delicious! I think Jewish cuisine is the most delicious. My grandmother also made potato latkes, fried pancakes. My grandmother served them with bilberry jam. It goes without saying that there was gefilte fish, stuffed goose neck and the herring forshmak.

There were sweets, too. My grandmother made teyglakh, rolls from stiff dough with raisins. Alcohol was also added into the dough. They are cooked in honey with spices. They taste delicious. We also liked aingemakht from black radish. Ground black radish was also cooked in honey with spices. This was a festive dish, and we liked it as well. As for common meals, my father used to make ground black radish with goose fat.

We visited my grandmother to celebrate Jewish holidays. The whole family got together. My mother's younger brother Michail, my grandmother's sister Martha Fridlander and her son Hermann, my grandmother's friends also joined us. There were at least 15 people sitting at the table. All traditional Jewish food was on the table.

We always had matzah on Pesach. My father conducted the seder. He broke the matzah into three pieces hiding the middle part, the afikoman, under a cushion. One of the children, whoever managed first, was to find the afikoman and give it back for a ransom. I remember once finding the afikoman. I received a bag of walnuts in return. We celebrated all Jewish holidays. On Purim my grandmother made very delicious hamantashen pies filled with poppy seeds with raisins, honey and walnuts.

On Yom Kippur my grandmother and my mother observed the fast. They spent a whole day at the synagogue. When they returned, they could have the first meal of the day. They usually had some fruit for a start and then had a meal about two hours later. I remember this. We also celebrated birthdays. My grandmother used to make a bagel for each birthday member of the family. They were beautiful bagels! They were decorated with oak-tree leaves made from dough, sprinkled with sugar powder and ground almonds. Bagels of this kind remained fresh for a week. My grandmother made her last bagel shortly before she died in 1948.
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Cilja Laud

We have always been Jews. Even during the Soviet times we marked Jewish holidays in line with the calendar. On Pesach and on Yom Kippur I did not go to school. Mother wrote notes to the teacher saying that I either had a sore throat or abdominal pain. On those holidays I could not attend classes.

I also went to the synagogue on holidays. Our beautiful Tallinn synagogue was destroyed during the war. After the war the municipal authorities gave Tallinn Jews the premises for a prayer house - at first it was at the second floor of the automobile base, and then separate premises on Magdalen Street - a wooden hut with mice and rats. I went to the synagogue with Mother and Grandma, to the balcony. Men were to sit separately. I did not have such a kerchief as Grandma had and I put my pioneer scarf on my head.

Grandfather went to the synagogue rarely and after war he became an atheist. Probably he could not abide by the fact that God had allowed the extermination of so many Jews just because of their nationality. On high holidays, such as Yom Kippur, he went to the synagogue with us, but he refused putting on a kippah and wore a cap. He put it on, then entered the synagogue and stayed there for the service because of Grandmother, who had sincerely remained pious even after the war.

We almost always marked Sabbath at home. Grandmother cooked gefilte fish. It was not kosher as we did not observe kashrut after the war, but anyway it was a true Jewish dish. We marked holidays according to traditions. Even in the hardest times we had matzah. Grandmother made gefilte fish, strudel and baked hamantashen on Purim. Grandmother Kaplan made potato fritters by traditional recipe, but Grandma Perelman added fried onion there. They were amazingly tasty and nice looking - of golden color, not graying.
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Oskar Rosenstrauch

Ich kenne viele Juden in Wien, die nicht zum Judentum zurückgekehrt sind. Ich bin überzeugt, die Nicht-Gemeindemitglieder würden der jüdischen Gemeinde näher kommen, wenn sie das Gefühl hätten, dass sie gerne aufgenommen werden würden. Es gibt sogar Juden, die ich kenne, die das Gefühl haben, sie werden im Tempel nicht gerne gesehen. Ich glaube, Judentum wird zu sehr verbunden mit der Religion. Es gab in den 1920er, 1930er-Jahren, als der Klerus aktiv reaktionär war, in der Sozialistischen Partei die Bewegung der Freidenker, die sich von der Religion entfernt hatte. Nachdem sehr viele Juden in der Sozialistischen Partei aktiv tätig waren, als Kassiere, als Sektionsmitglieder, sind sie auch in diese Freidenkerbewegung mit einbezogen worden. Es gibt also eine große Tradition von nicht religiösen Juden, die heute alt geworden sind: dazu gehören diese Leute. Dabei bin ich überzeugt, dass 50 Prozent der Juden in Amerika, nicht in die Synagoge gehen. Aber kann man so großzügig sagen, wir brauchen sie nicht? Wer kann sich das erlauben? Marcel Prawy [30] war Jude, aber zu seinem Begräbnis, er bekam ein Ehrengrab der Stadt Wien am 1. Tor des Zentralfriedhofs, kam der Rabbiner nicht, kam auch der Kantor nicht. Das 1. Tor gehört nicht zum jüdischen Friedhof und so ist von der jüdischen Gemeinde niemand gekommen. Prawy wurde vom Kardinal König [31] mit 'Schalom' [hebr. Frieden] begraben. In Ehrengräbern der Stadt Wien gibt es Dutzende Juden, die dank ihrer Verdienste dort liegen, aber von der jüdischen Gemeinde werden sie nicht anerkannt, weil sie nicht am jüdischen Friedhof begraben sind. Das sind Probleme, die existent sind und die tausend Wiener Juden spüren, die nicht von selbst die Initiative ergreifen, der jüdischen Gemeinde beizutreten oder in den Tempel zu gehen.
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Peter Reisz

When I first went to my wife’s family’s home, I thought I’d pass out, because I saw that they had a Christmas tree.  They always celebrated Christmas.  Her father, when there weren’t enough Jews in Kispest, always went to the temple to make a minyan, but he didn’t know how to pray.  My wife’s mother was taken away in 1944.  There was a lady from the country who had stayed with my wife’s parents as a sort of live-in servant. After World War II my wife’s father married this woman.  As a matter of fact, my wife couldn’t have had a Jewish upbringing from her mother.  But I was really surprised by the Christmas tree.  My grandmother wouldn’t come to visit when she found out they had a Christmas tree.
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Eva Köckeis-Stangl

Der einzige Anlass, wo ich mich erinnern kann, dass über jüdische Tradition was erzählt wurde, war, wenn Otto Witze erzählt hat. Er hat gerne und ausgezeichnet Witze erzählt, jüdische Witze, über Juden, die sehr viel Selbstironie enthalten.
Aber sonst herrschte große Distanz und sicher auch ein Maß an Verachtung für die nichtassimilierten Juden, für die man damals gesagt hat, sehr herablassend, eigentlich bös‘, „die polnischen Juden“, die Juden aus den Ghettos in Polen, die aus der Ukraine wegen Pogromen flüchten mussten, von denen sehr viele da im 2. Bezirk gelebt haben, die mein Vater also eher verachtet hat, wahrscheinlich sie als nicht modern genug, etwas schmutzig, schmuddelig, nicht aufgeklärt empfunden hat. Diese Distanzierung kommt auch darin zum Ausdruck, dass ich zunächst nicht jüdischer Religion war, das heißt, in meinem Geburtsschein steht „ohne religiöses Bekenntnis“.
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