Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Bernard Hirsch - June 29, 1982

Religious Life in the United States

What were your initial impressions of the United States?

Uh, when I, I come home from a very religious--I mean, a, a religious house, you know. I wouldn't say they, they were walking, you know, like they have tzitzits outside, modern, you know, modern religious. When we passed Czechoslovakia...


Orthodox yeah. Or modern, you know, not uh, the payes. I never was wearing payes, you know.

But you had tzitzits.

Tzitzits, yeah, or inside, not walking outside.

Oh, oh.

Not walking outside.


Uh, we were respecting the, the father and mother. We, we kept the, the religious. Or we couldn't--the youngsters, you know, it's changing exactly like, like here. The--my kids they are not going to be like, like I am, and the kids' kids, who knows how they going--so when I walk--when we pass the--from Czechoslovakia to Germany with the train, so I said to my wife like this on the border when we walked in, I said, "Now I'm free," because there was already communist. "Now I'm free, I'm going to a--to free country. And when I come to, to United State, I'm not going to be fanatic Jew or I'm going to be a modern religious Jew." This--with this idea I was coming to this country that I'm going to keep it up after my parents. When I came to New York, I saw it Friday night they're going on the subway. Saturday morning they going to working. I said, "Where did I came here?" I thought in mind this that here people--Jewish people they're uh, religious people, they're obeying Shabbos like uh, they're obeying in Europe. But here it's entire different. I was very uh, very with this one thing that they are--they didn't kept like, like the older timers, like at home. The other thing I was very--I knew it that a man--I heard what they were saying, that is no country like United States. And I can say the same thing. Is no country like. I'm here since '49, it's already fifty-three uh, thirty-three years. Nobody told me, "Jew," and nobody told me, "You cannot go and you cannot have this, you cannot live..."

[interruption in interview]

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