Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Lucy Glaser Merritt - July 8, 1991

Religious Life in America

Um, you said your father became religious when he came to the States.

Yeah, then he had an opportunity to meet-well, of course he had more time too-a group called Gemilut Chesed, which was a German Jewish group. And in fact they had uh, they conducted all their business in German. They even had a rabbi who spoke German until somebody pointed out to them that that was improper. And so, then they converted to English, although their English was atrocious on the whole.

They would never speak Yiddish.

Oh no, no. But my father didn't know how. And too, years for someone who has spoken German, Yiddish sounds distorted. And then it was also associated with being a lower class, so it had a stigma of some kind attached, which it doesn't have here. And then he, of course when we got to the United States all my mother's relatives spoke Yiddish. My father coming you know, hat in hand was in no position to do anything. And they would say, "Wiegleichen Sie America?" ??? How do you like? You know a literal translation of a like. And so that, that was quite a thing for him to have to put up with. Because he was very-he liked dignity. He, he was formal. Not only conservative, but formal. He didn't like to be called by the first name. That was hard for him working because they all wanted to call him Joe and of course, he couldn't say anything because he wanted the job. But that-he missed that of Austria. And he found a friend whom he met when he was burning garbage in the alley. And this man is from Austria. And each night when they burned garbage together and they said, "Good evening Mr. Glaser, good evening Mr. Burger." This man was with him 'til he died and he never called him by his first name. It was unthinkable. So he was steeped in the culture. Truly.

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