Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Lily Fenster - November 8 & 10, 1994

Religious Life

Tell me about Friday. What was Friday like?

Friday for us was when we could afford that to have a little soap, mit the challah, piece of Jewish bread and something good to eat. There was a festivity. That was the happiness, my grandma putting up the candles. She wore a beautiful white little apron and she wear a sheitel I mean a wig and blessed us always. Always blessed us nicely, you know. And we sit down, we ate "men hot gezingen, zmiress" you know the prayers for God. I didn't have too much of a religion background because I knew how to say ivreh--daven a bit, but I was seven years old and when my grandpa died everything, nobody taught me nothing. It's the little bitty thing that I knew, it stick to my head. You know and I remember those, those traditions, those Hanukkahs, we made latkes and the mishpoch--the relatives came and it was--you never were lonely. Here you have everything and you're lonely. You have luxury and there isn't that, that mish...relatives' chain. But I'm blessed, I have three lovely kids, I have six gorgeous grandchildren, which I tell them what life is all about, you know. I have a son, I wish you would meet, Bobby. He is--that guy don't need nothing. I have to push him to give him things. But that's an issue pardon, that is material things about, you know. The holidays well you know, I was scared always Yom Kippur. We use to go and pray so much and the night before when they put on the candles, my Bobe use to bless everybody and I went away hiding. I was so scared because the crying was unbelievable. The pray to God, it was a terrible night. I always...I did not like those--Yom Kippur--those holidays because of the grandma bentshed us and tante--mama, the father, mother, bentshed us. And the crying. And they use to put in big thick candles should burn maybe fifty hours, I don't know, here it's twenty-four hours. You put them in, in a bowl of sand. You stick in the ??? for the older memories for all the dead and then they say the prayers. That was--then everybody fasted. I mean, there was no eating. Even when I was a little girl that was the biggest accomplishment, to fast. Even now since I came back to the Jews, because when I as a shikseh, I didn't know where the holidays were, I mean, I didn't have a calendar. So the minute, the first I stepped into the house and I seen the candles, I mean after the war, I gave my word. It doesn't even bother me. I fast every holiday, since it's been fifty years, sometimes forty some years, you know.

Did you go to shul together?

With the parents? Sure. It was a pleasure with the Bobe mit my father, he didn't even believe it that he went, it was a shtiebl. It wasn't a Shul like here...

Small room...

It was different, you know. I also remember grandma always use to have a little package and a handkerchief. After you have the cookie and that was such a treat you know, when we sitting and then I remember when they said Yizkor they always send us out, you know. But when shofar bluzen there was a, a happiness and also some of us Torah--getting the fon with the apple and a candle and we were dancing around the Torah. That was the most festive days that sticks to my mind was being a little girl. It was not a terrible religious home but yet a kosher home. They didn't even know any other way. My father was a little bit, because he didn't wear a hat and they smoked a cigarette on Shabbos and the holidays and that was against my grandpa's wishes, you know. He was a Yid mit bord--with a beard and a learned person. Nebekh orem, orem nacj gezitsn, they said and they davened they discussed, they came to him for din toirehs. Do you know what din toirehs are? It's like a lawyer, we didn't have lawyers, they were lawyers, two rabbis, if you had bad--a bad deal with some friends, you couldn't agree, nemen tzu a din toireh, how do you say a "din toireh" in English?

To judge.

To judgment. Yeah. And the rabbi--whatever the rabbi said was good without a lawyer so that was my grandpa, was in such a atmosphere with people, poverty, orem, dee-toireh, Moishe Skurka, hot gezogt, he says his name was Moishe, my grandfather. And that you have to united, you have to sit down and ??? ???, shake your hands. You know what that means, you know. Because a lot of people you know, did business like that, a hand shake. My husband use to do business like that here, too. He was very successful. Not with everybody, but he learned later because it wasn't easy with a mit a vort? It used to be, the word was my honor, it was my everything. Now, sign it, sue you. You want something to drink, I'm dry. Do you want a little ginger ale maybe?

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