Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Vera Schey - June 10, 1994

Feelings About Being Jewish

As long as we're on... How, how do you feel sometimes when you hear people, Jews, Orthodox Jews or fundamentalist Christians say this was God's punishment to Jews?

I think, I think it's hogwash, I think it's ridiculous. I think it's absurd to say. Still and all uh, uh, the family, the tradition and all these things, I'm not a God, big God believer anymore. I do whatever I do because my husband wants me to. And because he did not come out of all this without a belief. I didn't. If I had any belief before, I have none. I really don't. I do it because the feeling is still there, the Jewish feeling to the belonging to, to a group, to this, to this I would say very elite group of Jews that we are. Uh, the tra...tradition, the--I still go every ??? to ??? Not because of religion so much as because of my parents. I want to, to give them that, that honor or whatever you want to call it. That, that it, they are remembered and that, that I go to, to that temple or shul or wherever I go to say that ??? prayer on ??? services. Uh...

It's respect, right.

Respect. I go to the synagogues on the big holidays because my husband wants to. I make holidays at home with the traditions because my husband wants to. Uh, I try to install it in my son and granddaughter more than do I believe it myself, because living here it's somehow brought back more pride in being Jewish than it was ever in my life in Europe. I remember a very funny experience where uh, one day, many, many years ago but shortly after we came to the United States, maybe three or four years later. Uh, I was in a line in a grocery store, Farmers Jack or something. And in the next line is my friend and she calls over and she says, "Hey Vera I called you this morning, where were you, you weren't home." I said, "I went to exercise class." And she says, "Oh to the Jewish Center?" And this is from one line to the other. And I said, "Yes." And as I walked out--I was with my mother--and I said, "Mother how many years will we be here before I would yell over from one line to the other, I had exercised in the Jewish Center?" I never would deny being Jewish, but I would not ever tell you. Can you understand that?


I think that changed though. I mean, being involved with all what I'm involved now, the Hidden Children, the Holocaust education, Leslie being so much involved too. I, I don't know if I would feel the same way. I still don't know if I would stand anywhere and loudly pronounce that I... Really.

You lower your voice a little.

Yes. Not that I'm proud of this, but that's how I feel.

I think we all do it.

Jews in America don't do it like we do, right? We never uh, we were assimilated so we never made a point to say we are Jewish, really do. I mean, even with what's happening in the world now, you, you still here you, the Jews stand up and, and say they are Jews. Much more so than we ever did in, in Hungary. And coming out, I often say to Leslie that he lived with you know, hundreds and thousands of Jews in, in concentration camp and slave labor camp. And he says a lot of them came out more religious than they ever were. And, and it's amazing. After all what happened to them and losing families and losing--how in the world can they be more religion than, than they ever were?

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