Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Isaac Engel - June 16 & 25, 1992

Religious Life

Uh, tell me something like about Friday night, what was a Friday night like in your house?

In the house? Friday night, my mother light candles and we went to sh...shul. We went to a shtieble. It was more like a--it was a small synagogue you know, with a lot of... Because this town was about seventeen hundred Jewish families in that town. It wasn't a big city. It was an old city, but not large. They said that it was like uh, three hundred years old. That's how, how old the big synagogue was. Well, we went to shul, we came home. And we uh, make uh, kiddush and uh, we sat down to eat, our family sat down to eat and most of the time we had even somebody else came into eat. Because there were some poor people. And uh, even the Jewish people, they were not wealthy people. But they were generous people. When the, when, when the shtieble, they came five people there. A whole week nobody was worried so much. That's when it came Shabbos, Saturday, that everybody should have what to eat. So most of the times we had somebody else to eat there. Person came into eat. Like the, the, the gabay the uh, I don't know wha...how you call him in English. Uh, but one he was in charge in uh, in the, in the synagogue. And he ca...came over and he says "Listen, could you take somebody home to eat?" He saw how many people we had that were there and he uh, gave everybody somebody. This guy gave the one guy. And the same thing was happening in the morning. And he ate and he went away. But we--most of the times we had somebody else to eat there.

You said there were seventeen hundred Jewish families in Zwoleń?

Yeah, yeah.

That's, what, maybe five thousand people?

Something like that.

Um, on Saturdays you would all go to shul.

Of course.

The women too?

Everything was closed. Women? No.

They would stay home.

No. Some women went. Not too many. There were some. Older ladies. There were some women used to go, but not all of them, no. Not very many.

And did you go to yeshiva?

Oh yeah.

You went? And your brothers?

My brother went. I had an older brother. He was four and a half years older than me. And I had a younger brother. My younger brother was only seven and a half years old in 1942. So he didn't have a chance to go to the yeshiva. He went to cheder, you know.

Uh-huh. So what, what do you think you would have done had it not been for the war? Would you have gone into the business? Would you have become a rabbi?

No, I wouldn't. My father wanted me to be. But I, I was in the business. I was involved in the business. And I had offer something, I was in the business. I knew everything what was going on in the business, from A to Z.

Did your father, did the business sell to non-Jews as well as Jews?

Of course.

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