This is a picture of the Jewish wedding of our neighbor Abu Fales. The bride Chiena and the groom are in the center at the table. From left to right sitting: Grandmother Elke, I, my mother Brocha in white décolleté dress, my father Motle and brother Isroel are standing behind me. I don’t remember the rest. The picture was taken in Jurbarkas in 1930.
I remember my childhood well. We lived in a large two-storied house with two entrances. The left one was occupied by our family, and the right one was unoccupied at times. There were times when Mother leased the second half of the house. In the late 1930s her cousin moved in there.
My parents’ big bedroom was next to the dining-room. There was a large carved bed in the center of the room with the tester. There were a small bedroom and a room, where my maternal grandmother Elke lived. My brother was independent since childhood. He occupied one of the rooms on the second floor. There was a large kitchen on the first floor with a stove. The stove was stoked with firewood. The stove was also used for cooking. On weekdays Mother and Grandmother didn’t even get close to the stove. The food was cooked by a housekeeper, a Jew. That old lady – I can’t recall her name – had worked for us before the Soviets came to power and was very loyal to our family.
Our yard was big. There was a huge shed, where peasants – suppliers – put their grain. There was a small hut, where a Lithuanian woman – the guard – was on duty. That Lithuanian did all the chores on Saturday, which was a day of rest for the religious Jews. She took food from the stove, stoked the stove, turned the light on.
Jewish charity was developed in our town. Without any special agreement rich Jews like my father supported poor Jews in their vicinity. Every Saturday Father brought a poor lad from the yeshivah to join our festive dinner. We had a regular ‘customer’ – as my father joked – a poor guy called Elke, who lived nearby and raised two orphaned girls. He came to us twice a week: on Saturday and on Wednesday, had lunch and took a basket with food for his daughters. Usually Grandmother shoved a lita [Lithuanian currency] or two in Elke’s pocket. It was good money at that time.