Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

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

Religious Life in Siberia

So people treated you well there.

Oh yes. People were very sweet to me. I, I cannot say a bad word about people.

So, was there ever any anti-Semitism there?

I don't rememb...not in Siberia,

Not in Siberia...

I really don't remember. In, in Central Asia, in Comintern--but not in Siberia. Um, we all lived under very difficult circumstances, whether we were Jewish or not. And people were very sweet. I'll never forget that soup. I mean, God bless them even today wherever they are, their children or grandchildren. It was such a beautiful thing to do. They had very little. It was only one duck, you know. And they invited me and they gave me some soup. They didn't give it to my brother or my sister, because they were already supposed to be big kids. I was the little one.

How many other Jews lived in this small area do you think?

Oh, I don't know.

Were there religious services ever?

I don't think so. I don't remember, maybe there were. But don't forget, my dad wasn't there so uh, we weren't involved.


I don't remember.

What about Pesach or Rosh Hashanah?

Well, Rosh Hashanah I remember, Pesach I don't remember, but Rosh Hashanah I remember, the first Rosh Hashanah. I think we were there one Rosh Hashanah. My mom covered--I can remember this--didn't have a table, but we had my daddy's sewing machine. And the old s...you know, there is a table for a sewing machine. There's half a table and then there goes the, the sewing machine itself. My mom covered that sewing machine table with a little tablecloth and we had a soup that she made out of beans. I think she received a package from back home.

From back home?

Yes, I think so.

What year was this?

This is when we just arrived in Siberia, I think so.

Nineteen-forty maybe.

Nineteen-forty. And she made a soup with--where she got the flour, I don't know--she made little noodles, squares like and we ate that.

Was there a seder?

No, we--I don't remember a seder in Siberia. We had a seder in Central Asia, but not...

Because your father was there.

My dad was there, yeah. But in Siberia I don't remember a seder. But I tell you one thing, there was Passover because my grandma did not eat anything but potatoes. We were there Passover. We ate, but my grandma did not. She ate only the potatoes. My mom went bought a bag of potatoes and that's what she ate.

And on Yom Kippur?

I don't remember. I don't remember the holidays.

You don't know if they fasted or not.

My mother probably did, I don't remember that. Yeah, I don't remember that. I don't remember the holidays in Siberia at all. But I do remember that it was--my mom bentshed ??? it was Rosh Hashanah. And I do remember that my grandma ate only potatoes because there was nothing else to eat on uh, Passover.

Did she bentsh on Shabbos too?


She did.

I think so. But there was no, there was no candles. She would um, I think she would cut a potato and put a drop of oil in it and put a wick in it, yeah.

Potatoes came in very handy at times.

Well, it was the main source of food in, in Siberia was potatoes. We were glad to have it. We didn't have it all the time, by the way. There were uh, other things to eat uh, that was actually healthy. Uh, turnips. Big turnips like this. And, uh...

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