Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Manya Auster Feldman - August 11, 1998

Religion Under the Soviets

So what happened to the Shabbos, for example?

Oh, you know, when they--and we were just talking about it. At the time when they occupied uh, our part of uh, Poland they, they didn't have a seven-day week. They had a--like a five-day week and the sixth day was their vykhodnoi, which means their day of rest. So when they came in, it was very hard to--the transition was horrible. They did not allow us--they did it because to begin with even in Russia, that--to that minorities wouldn't be able to have--to have their religious day. You understand? The, the, the Shabbat was Jewish and the Sunday was for the gentiles. So they, they completely abolished this, this sort of day off. But they made the sixth day--was the sixth day--the day off, the day off. The sixth day.

The sixth day?

Started Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday uh, uh, Thursday. Friday was the day off. And then you count again. You understand?

So you had to work on Saturday?

Yeah. We had to work.

And how did your family feel about that?

It was very, it was very hard. They, they couldn't accept it. You couldn't do anything. If you wouldn't work, you could, you could go to jail. My father didn't work. The, the older generation was still able to--they were observing the holidays and they observed their religion in a clandestine manner, you understand so nobody would--not outward--outwardly.

And the five synagogues, what happened to them?

The five synagogues were um, they were still synagogues, but they, they were not there--that much attended like they used to be in Poland. But they were still--they did not do anything to them.

So it wasn't, it wasn't against the law to attend the synagogue then?

No, it wasn't against the law. It's just that they were not, you know, they were not religiously inclined. They...

Did anybody from your Shtetl go west?

You mean t...towards Germany?

To the Germans.

In when, when?

When they divided Poland?

No. As I--no, we had an influx of, of people that came from the west to us and settled and a lot of people. They were called the Bezencies. Bezencies is somebody that runs away. And we didn't...

How do you spell that?

Oh, it's, it's a Russian word.

Is it?

You want me to spell it?


Uh, uh, B-e-z-e-n-c-i-e-s, Bezencies, somebody that's running. And they were not treated nice by even the Jewish population either. They were called this name. And because they had nothing, you had to support them. The Jewish population had to support them. They ran away from the, the, they abandoned everything, their homes and their belongings, everything. And they ran, they ran from the Germans. But then, but then they were able to um, go deeper into Russia.

Uh, to where, Siberia?

Yeah, well, but it was better than being under the German rule.

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