Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Maurice Chandler - October 3, 1993

Religious Life

So, if a stranger came to town, say on Shabbos, somebody would always...

Yes, if he came to town on Shabbos--and there were many that showed up--there were always people going around collecting, you know, for unmarried daughters' dowries, people in need. You know, there were literally dozens of people that showed up everyday on our doorstep, you know always collecting.

Not from your town?

No, no, not from my town. I'm sure there were people from our town that were visiting other towns because it was not, you know, an honorable thing to do. But there were a lot of poor Jews in Poland and they would come from all cities in Poland. And on--for Saturday--for Shabbos, in our--we belong to a specific shtiebl. You know, I don't know if you're familiar with the word shtiebl.

Somebody's house?

No--well, the literal translation means a room, but, uh, Hasidic, Hasidic uh, small congregations were not relegated to a shul, so to speak, as we know in America. In America, a shul is a big edifice--a building hundreds of people belong to. We had--in Poland, every Hasidic rabbi had followers. Mainly the main, the Gerrer Rabbi and the Alexander rabbi and so on...

The Lubavitcher...

And the Lubavitcher and they had followers in every little town. And these people would congregate in a group maybe 40, 50, 60, 80 families and they would build a shtiebl, you know, and that's where they daven and they would not go to another shtiebl.

[interruption in interview]

Which Rebbe did you follow?

Well my, my parents were followers of the ancient Vurka rebbe, you know, from a city called Vurka--in Polish it was called Warka, Vurka--and eventually it fell--resolved itself to the county of ??? rabbi in another town, you know that we were in ??? shtiebl. And in our shtiebl we probably had about--and it was a very, very closely-knit group. We davened uh, in there, and we wouldn't go to shul, we wouldn't be seen in shul. The shul was more or less for misnagdim...


Oh, sorry. The misnagdim were the anti-Hasidim, you know, by American standards, that we are sainted Jews. But in those standards, in uh, in our town in Poland, in Hasidic circles, if you were not a Hasidic Jew, you were not really observant. You were across the a ???, you know.

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