Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Esther Feldman Icikson - October 23 & 29, November 5 & 12, 2001

Religious Life

Tell me about a Friday night.

I don't remember Friday nights.

So, anything about Shabbos that comes to mind?

Um, yes. In the morning my mom would serve me, when my daddy would go to shul. That's the one thing I remember is my mom would give me um, stewed fruits with a little piece of challah. That was a treat on Shabbos morning. That I remember. What I do remember is on Passover--the seder, my dad would move the table closer to the back and the children would sit on top of the bed. And the seder started very late, because you're supposed to start late. Not like here, it starts...

At sundown, right.

You start at midnight actually.


You're supposed to start at midnight actually. And so us children would sit on the bed and what I do remember is I would always fall asleep. By the time I woke up it was morning.

Was there an extended family? Aunts, uncles, grandparents?

Um, I had a grandfather that I remember only the back of his hat, interesting enough. I don't remember his face--only from the pictures--but his face I don't remember in reality.

Why the back of his hat?

Because, the night we took off from Chelm, my father came to pick us up. He took off first. After the first bombardment, he left Chelm to White Russia. My mom had an uncle there. Because everybody figured you know, it's just something that will pass quickly. And so my mom said to my dad--I don't know that but I know it from the stories that I was told that, "You go away, because men were first to be taken to work or war or whatever. And I will be here." That's what my mom said--with her father, which was my grandfather and the kids, until things get quieted down. So my father left. And he came to my mom's uncle in White Russia.

Where, do you know?

I don't remember. I don't know the name of the uh, it was a village. And um, when he came to my mom's uncle, my mom's uncle told him, "You better go back and fetch your family because I know what Germans can do." And so he gave him a horse and a buggy and sent him back to fetch us. And we left Chelm in the evening. It was probably around maybe this time of year actually. Maybe just a little later. It was already in the beginning of November maybe.

It was in November.

It might have been already November, because it was cold, very cold. And my grandfather was walking in front of the buggy and I was sitting on top of the buggy. He gave me--he carried a bottle of tea--I can see it now--he gave me a tiny little glass that had a handle, like a beer mug, you know? And on it was written in Hebrew, Pesach. And he carried a bottle of tea in his hand. And he walked in front of that buggy to kind of accom...you know, accompany us until we left the city. And all I could see is my Zeidee's back--my grandfather. He wore a fur jacket like, it was lined inside, I think--and his collar was up and he had this Polish hat on. It's not like um, a, a regular hat, it was like a fur hat going up. And that's all I remember from my Zeidee.

He didn't go with you?

No, he didn't go with us.

And only your family left.

My...only us. And after a few weeks, my uncle and aunt joined us. But I do not remember much how we hooked up with them.

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