Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Alice Lang Rosen - August 5, 1991

Learning to be Jewish Again

And um, she told me on the train on the way there--she explained to me that I am not a Catholic child, that I am a Jewish child--that my religion is, is Jewish and I am going to have to change my life style. Things will be different when I get to the home and when I get there they will teach me. So uh, she said, "You just uh, repeat aft...after me," so when we got there and um, there were bedrooms and the boys and girls were separated by floors, you know. And um, being it was Friday night, was the challah was on the table and she took me the bathroom and showed me how to wash my hands, you know, three times and, "You can't talk until you say a prayer over the challah," and she said, "you just do what I do and you repeat after me." So here I am thinking I was a real Catholic, and religious Catholic, it's all I knew. In one night I had to be...become some...someone else and again, I, I did it with not--with no questions asked, never. I mean, I just must have been very passive person. Never questioned...

Did you have any relig...did you have a rosary? Did you have any religious artifacts that you...

Not with me, no. I had a rosary when we went to church and all that cross over my bed was Jesus, I mean, and we kneeled every night and we prayed, I mean that, yes, that was...

Did you continue to do that in the home?

No, no. They told me that this I had to forget. The literally told me that I had to forget everything that been through up 'til then and I had to become Jewish and learn Jewish and little by little every day they children's came in.

Husband: Hebrew.

And, um, we had Hebrew classes in the morning and then we had our regular school in the afternoon. And I really learned how to read Hebrew, I learned how to translate Hebrew to French, and from French into Hebrew and I learned very quickly apparently. I became very religious.

Husband: Made matzah.

We made our own matzah on Pesach and, um, you know, and uh, I really didn't need a prayer book, I, I, I, I could just pray. And we, we learned the, the, the prayer, you know, naturally for the bread and then we bentsh af...af....after dinner and the prayer before we went to bed at night and when we got up in the morning. And it just became second nature to me, I mean, I just accepted everything I was told to do, I just did. I never seemed to have asked anybody why. I just did as I was told. Unless it was the fear in me, so, you know.

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