Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Miriam Brysk - February 7, 2004

Religious Life

Was the family religious at all?

Yes, they were re...religious, they were respected members of the synagogue and...

Your father was.

Yeah, my father was very religious. My father, even in America after the war, wore tefillin every morning. And uh, so...

What would a Friday night have been like?

Friday night we always got together at my grandparents' house. And I would sit on his la...my grandfather's lap and I would go, you know, take, take my hands and make a mess out of his dinner. And he loved eating it after I'd made the mess. And we would sit and, you know, talk about the family, about life like, like any--most people do. There was a lot of family uh, togetherness. Uh, the--my youngest uh, uh, my mother's uh, youngest brother Sedek was a, he was a very handsome guy and the girls just--he had a harem of girlfriends trying to--running after him and my mother would, disapproved of his loose kind of--and my mother was my father's favorite and he ran the household, so she could get out of him anything she wanted. And uh, so he would beg her to do favors that he could stay out late or whatever. And uh, finally he was drafted into the Polish army and even more uh, handsome with a uniform on, but he could no longer be subdued.

He was your uncle.

My uncle. He survived.

He did survive.


Um, do you remember school? Did you go to school?

No, I was four.

You were four. What language did you speak at home?

Uh, we spoke only Polish.

Did your family know Yiddish?

My, my, my father spoke it very well, my grandparents did. My mother spoke Yiddish, but not very--not all that well. She completed gymnasium but after that um, never went to religious school. And uh, after that she worked uh, for some businessman in town uh, before she got married.

Tell me about the governess. Was she a Polish governess?

She was a Polish governess, very devoted to my, my parents and to me. And uh, we parted when the war started when we left Warsaw.

So you never saw her again.

No. And uh, let's see what el...uh, I'm trying to think of details of--and my uncles from America who were very devoted--my, my mo...my father's--my mother's two brothers came to--they would each take turns coming every other year to, to, to Poland, to Warsaw. And they came in 1939 because my aunt was getting married, for her wedding. And they also stayed for my birthday, which was a month later. And they were trying to get my, my family out of Poland. They were trying to convince them that things were becoming dangerous in Europe, they really shouldn't stay. My father said, "So many Jews aren't worried, so why should I be?" [pause] So. And in the summers we used to go to uh, different places in the country where my, my, my mother would like rent a place and we would be out there and my father worked in Warsaw. He became, as I said, extremely successful and he had a, had really uh, he had a knack for, for diagnosis that far exceeded uh, the people who were teaching him. He just had a, you know, there was--my daughter has that now, which is kind of nice.

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