Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Abraham Pasternak - August 13, 1984


Was there lots of anti-Semitism in the town?

Yes. Yeah, there was because there was always anti-Semitism. There was... There hasn't been a week that hasn't gone by that I was not told "You dirty Jew, go back to Palestine."

You went to public school or did you go to... ?

I went to the uh, yes, I went to the... I have four years of secular education. We went to, we were forced to, everybody had to go to uh, school for uh, four years, that's all because the rest of 'em started out with a little... It was high school, as they say it over here, but then, for that uh, there was already a selection, even in the thirties.

It was a quota system?

Yes, that was uh, yes... If you were able to bribe your way in but not too many of us wanted to bribe uh, uh, not many of our parents wanted to bribe in, bribe the officials to get us into the school.

What, what business was your father in?

We had a yard goods store. We were uh, we had a fairly nice store and uh, my father always used to say uh, "To put through six boys to go to cheder and to uh, to the yeshivas uh, that cost a lot of money and uh..." But uh, he was able to uh, manage it, we were able to manage but my mother was more or less the businesswoman in the family.

Tell me what it was like in the store.

She... Well, we had a... My older brother who lives now in Israel and who survived uh, he uh, he used to work in the store and then my mother and father and that was all. The uh, the big day used to be on Wednesdays. Wednesday used to be the market day, the shopping day. But all in all, we were uh, fairly uh, I would say, for the community, we were quite well to do.

Did you go to school outside the town at any point?

I went to, when I was thirteen, I went to study to yeshiva in Sighet which was uh, that was west of Transylvania and uh, I studied there for about uh, a year and a half and um, my brother, uh-the one who died, my older brother, my brother who was before me-I studied with him for a little while, then he said uh, two brothers cannot study with one another, so he turned me over to somebody else. In fact, I ran into the, into my teacher about ten years ago in Montreal.

Do you think you would have continued in religious education or taken over the business or would you have gone into a... ?

Well, my religious life really uh, would not have changed. Whether I would have stayed in the business, I don't believe that our business was uh, that big that we would able to, you know, so many families would be able to make a living from it. After all, I was number three in the family and there was number one, number two, so I'm number three, maybe I probably would have wound up in doing something else, probably gone into the same business someplace else uh, uh, it all depends on where I would marry, I mean uh, where I would find a girl to marry.

Was, was your household particularly religious or was, was the community as a whole?

No, my house, our household was very religious.

Was it a Hasidic community?

It was a very Hasidic community. It was a very religious house. I mean, the fact that, that my, my parents, my father used to wear a beard and we all wore the uh, side curls. We were all payes, we all had payes. And we wore the dark clothes, we wore the uh, traditional clothes, I mean, that uh, Jewish people uh, wear. And on Saturdays, we had special clothes to put on which was uh, which expressed really the, the religious aspect of it.

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