Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Manya Auster Feldman - August 11, 1998

Religious Life

What was it, what was it like on a Friday night?

Oh, on a Friday night, that was the most beautiful night of the week. Uh, father went to shul. We had to the close the business very early because a--and by the way, they, they had a whistle that they put on, that Shabbos is starting, that everything should cease. No, no work or no uh, business going on. My father went to Shul. And we came--he came back, the table was set very um, in a very festive manner. We all had a festive dinner and we sang all the uh, Shabbos songs. Uh, we were five children. It was very lively. As a matter of fact, we lived on the outskirts of the city, so next to us, the, the gentiles lived. So they used to pass our house. And on Friday night, they stood outside the window to listen, to watch us, how we observed the Shabbat.

Did you ever invite them in?

Uh, you know, we had no connection with the gentile population. We were just, "hello and goodbye." My father did business with them. Even with a neighbor, I didn't have any gentile friends. I was raised, I was educated in a private Hebrew school. And uh, uh, maybe some children who were not educated in a Hebrew school, they went to the public school, had some friends. I particularly--our children didn't have any. Uh, who, who we did have for Shabbat is, uh, uh, we had an awful lot of beggars in the city. The poverty was tremendous. So my father used to bring--every Friday night without an exception, I never remember one Friday night not having a, a, a uh, guest for, for dinner and then he came, he spent the Shabbos with us.

So these were Jewish beggars?

Jewish beggars, yes. The Jews were not rich. They were very poor, as a matter of fact.

But it sounds like your, your family was not very poor.

Not very poor, but not rich, either.

What did your...

A middle, middle class. We had--my father was small merchant. We had a grocery store. And he did some other business. He was a--they were a company that, that were dealing in fish, you know. We had our own--we rented out our own lake. So we hired fishermen they--that uh, uh, caught the fish for us. And they used to bring it and we used to sell it in the city.

You said he dealt with the non-Jewish population.

Always, only.

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