Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Aaron Salzburg - July 24, 1984

Pre-WWII Life in Opatów

Were there um, were there many synagogues?


Were there many synagogues in...?

Yes uh, uh, there was synagogue until the last minute. A synagogue--must have been hundreds of years old, beside other--there were temples uh, well, I don't know what it's called. We called this Beth Midrash, Beth Midrashim--were quite a few, but there was only one temple. And that temple must have been hundreds and hundreds of years old. And uh, we had different factions of uh, Hasidic people, mostly the Hasidic people--they had their con--small congregations--their places to worship on holidays and Saturdays. Quite a big movement--the Zionistic uh, movement uh, with all kinds of factions like Revisionist, allgemein uh, Zionists, leftist, multi-color uh, populations--Jewish population--very intellectual, very intellectual. A lot of big brothers, which took care--we took care of others which were less fortunate, illiterate were taught the language, the Jewish language, history--whatever. We had one of the most famous rabbis in the city. If anybody is familiar with it, it would be the Belzer--a rabbi from the Belzer Hoif. That means a rabbi from one of the most famous Polish rabbis from the city of Belz. From their donation [pause] denos--donation.

Do you remember his name?

First name was Schoime. But I don't, I don't remember his last name. The fellow was no more than twenty-four years old, with a very intelligent wife and two small children. We don't know what happened to this rabbi. I believe he left the city right after the war, back to his home town in the hope to survive because they were very famous people in Poland--very powerful, orthodox people protected by their religions. Now, I doubt it if any survived from this clan or whatever it's become. Belz--a very famous religious location.

Denomination--a denomination of Judaism?

Well patriarchs or something like it--what you call it.

What about um, education? What kind of schooling did most of the Jewish boys have?

Uh, the Jewish people had uh, one of the best educations as far as uh, Jewish religion. As far as Talmudic teaching, Apt was known as one of, one of the best because it was a small city--people had the chance to start to pray--to start to learn early in the morning to late in the evening they had all the time for it. And uh, we had the teachers for that. We also had a public school system where the most of the Jewish kids went to the public schools. The very orthodox Jews tried to stay away and their kids were taught at home uh, Polish literature, Polish language. We also had a Tarbut which is a, a Hebrew school--strictly Hebrew elementary school, a very fine school. High edu...highly educated people from wil...the Vilna--teachers from Vilna, around the--that school.

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