Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

John Mandel - May 26, 1981

Religious Life

Uh-huh, okay, all right. I've lost my place. Can you give me an idea of what a degree of assimilation in your community?

There was none. Uh, the uh, the Jewish kept to themselves. The Hungarians kept to themselves. There was also a German population. Everybody, everybody seemed to belong to their own particular group, ethnic group. And uh, there was no such thing as Jews assimilating with anybody else in our particular area. Not at that time.

Okay. Um, can you describe what a Friday night was like?

Well it was very uh, uh, completely according uh, the uh, Jewish laws. Uh, they would uh, uh, everybody would close up their shops, whatever they would do. And uh, it was a day of rest. The, the Sabbath was a day of rest. As a matter of fact, uh, there were a few people that uh, uh, tended to be a little bit more liberal and they were, they were trying to become uh, uh, more conservative rather than uh, Orthodox. But the Orthodox was so strong there, the Orthodox faction that um, they would shout them down. They, they, they just couldn't do it. I mean they were just, we were completely dominated by the Orthodox faction in our particular city.

Can you tell me how you celebrated the Shabbos?

Yes, we uh, my mother would light the candles and uh, my father and all the boys in the family would go to the services in the synagogue. We would come back after the services and there would be a beautiful Friday night meal that we would all partake. And it was done uh, the way the Orthodox would do it in this country. And then of course on the Saturday morning we would all go to services and we'd come back after the services and we would have our Sabbath meal, which was a very big meal in midday. And uh, after that we would uh, if it was a nice uh, summer day uh, we would uh, uh, there was a uh, um, a brewery on the edge of town and uh, occasionally my father would take uh, the older children and we would walk down to the brewery and he had an account there, and they would serve him some beer and um, have some peanuts. And o...o...either that or just take a nap in the afternoon. It was just a completely relaxing day. It was completely detached from anything that you would do during the week.

Can you tell me what your family's political affiliations or ideas were?

Uh, my father was uh, had very strong feeling, very strong feelings for Israel and he was a member of the Mizrachi. He was a Zionist. And um, we belonged uh, the younger children, we belonged to the Benei Akiva, which was the youth arm--youth branch of the Mizrachi.

Um-hm. Did you have anything to do with the politics of the Czechs, the Czechoslovakian?

I don't believe so um, not that I can recall.

You said that you went to school until you were fourteen.


Um, is that--was that the norm at the time?

Well uh, no uh, everybody had to go to school that, until the age of fourteen, at which time uh, you could leave school and go to, go to work or whatever. Uh, other children would continue on and go to uh, high school and to the university. I chose not to and I went to work for my father as I mentioned earlier and later on I went to work for my uncle and became a dental technician.

What grade would you say that you completed in school?


© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn