Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Miriam Monczyk-Laczkowska Ferber - December 7, 1999


Theres something I want...

[break in interview]

Now at that point I lived in, in Antwerp. No, Hirsches went to America...

So they left you there.

after--yes, they left me there. I didn't want to live with the Hirsch's. They were too religious for me. I couldn't, I loved the religion. Even Rabbi Kreiswirth who was religious, he was more of a modern Jew. The Hirsches were very, very um, very religious. Too--almost too religious for me. So I was sent to a, a American family, Mr. and Mrs. Sherman Gross, who were one hundred percent American born Jews who lived in Antwerp for uh, I think they were stationed there for seven or eight months because he had a business, eh, in Europe. And he needed to be in Europe. And I had a very nice room and uh, she didn't wear a sheitel, Mrs. Gross. She was from--we're talking about Shomer Shabbos people. Still very religious. And he didn't have a beard and he was more of a lebedik. Very, very nice people and uh, great, you know, company and so on. So I, I felt very comfortable there. But I studied with the rabbi, I befriended other Polish Jews, Mr. and Mrs. Friley. Mrs. Friley was from Katowice, Mr. Friley was from Krakow. Uh, wonderful people in diamond business uh, went through the concentration camp. She was a real woman of substance, Mrs. uh, ashus heil, a woman of valor, really, Mrs. Friley. Uh, she's dead already. Uh, I was very, very happy over there. I missed Poland. I missed my friends. But I was corresponding. Of course, the correspondence went through America and uh, I was happy over there. I had also Polish friends. I had, I had two girlfriends that were also, they, one was from Bokhyna, Sława and one was from Wrocław, Sida. And a male friend, Marek, who was from Łód?. We all were in Belgium in the same time.

Also Jews?

Also Jews who were--who Rabbi Hirsch brought out of Poland, at the same time as--yeah. So, they, they didn't want to have anything to do with Jews. They were very much against Jewish people. They...

In Antwerp?

No, these, these friends of mine.

Oh, I see.

I was, I was the only diamond.

I see. [laughs]

[laughs] That's why the rabbi called me. I was the only diamond because I loved the religion. They didn't want to have any part of it. Oh there was another, Genya, also Genya. Genya was a little bit like me. So Genya was sent to England and she uh, she got married in England. But the other, the other kids didn't want to have anything to do with the Jewish religion and, and they were abandoned. Because they didn't want to have nothing to do with Jewish religion, the rabbis didn't provide for them. One was sent to Montreal with twenty dollars in her pocket. She, right now she's in um, in Toronto. She resents Rabbi Kreiswirth and everybody else. I was treated like a, like a precious diamond because I took to the religion. But I, not because I wanted to be different, but I really enjoyed the religion. Sława was beautiful. Sława played the guitar. She was beautiful. She didn't want to have nothing to do with the Jewish people. You have to understand that we were nineteen years old. We had boyfriends in Poland. She had a very serious boyfriend. I didn't have such a serious boyfriend, but she did. She didn't want to have anything to do with the Jews. So, some of them went back to Poland. They couldn't take it.

Did you ever think of going back to Poland?

No, no.

Never occurred to you.

No, I couldn't because I loved the religion. I knew I wanted to be Jewish. I wanted to be Jewish, I loved the Jewish religion. And the way I studied and...When I learned, you know, that, that the Talmud teaches the, the newly wed husband and men how to make love to his wife, it's such a se...pure psychology. It really, it's a wonderful, wonderful, um. I mean, what I, only a fracture of what I was able to learn, but whatever I learned, it was fascinating. I didn't want to have anything to do with Poland. I would never forget my family because that's the only family that I knew, but I didn't want to be part of it anymore. I didn't want to be among these people because I felt sup...I told you, I felt superior. I had a special feeling, I loved Shabbat, I loved the candles, I loved the, the whole spirit, I loved Jewish people. And uh, I had no patience for the chinyokes, you know, for the--but I, I met wonderful people in Belgium who were Shomer Shabbos, who were religious, but who were Ortho...eh, who were modern. I went to theater with them, I went to the movies with them, I went to the concert with them. I, you know, not the Hasidim that, you know. So I could see that there was different way of being religious.

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