Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Simon Kalmas - May 25, 1982

Religion and Politics

You--your family seems--must have been quite active politically.

Not, not quite. My father was a typical Chasid, or Chosid, if you want to say a religious. He belonged to a, a, a group, you know, the Chasidim. He had uh, he had this--the ??? rebbe, you know, this was his--and, of course, they had a minyunim, you know, every Saturday--Friday night--Saturday or holidays, that was--they rented a place and um, they had shalos sudot and all these uh, uh, things. So he was a typical religious, decent man. Now I, I just stepped aside from all that. As a matter of fact, you can call that I was a rebellion for all that. To me, when the political Zionism, you know, came about, that's what I start looking into. I said, "We have to take that Zionism out of the prayer books and take it into the hands. Do something about it." So I remember as a youngster--twelve, thirteen years old--I used to go around every month collecting for the Jewish National Fund, you know, the Keren Kayemet LeYisrael. Pennies, you know, that women usually before Shabbos bentshing you know, uh, lichd or light the candles. My Yiddish is geharget, I'm telling you. Before line the camps, they used to drop in a, a penny or so, you know, tsedokah, and uh, and we used to go around and collect it, you know, e...every month, empty those boxes and send it for the Keren Kayemet. And uh, wanted to go to Israel. It was in the 19...in the early '30s, because there was no future in Poland. Anti-Semitism was tremendous. It was unbelievable. It's hard to describe.

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