Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Irene Sobel - September 8, 1998


I remember not too far from us a Jewish Synagogue. On High Holidays they were gathering people who, to me, looked a little unusual the way they were dressed because my parents were dressed in, uh, very contemporary clothing and I saw the Jews in their long tunics and fur hats. And my parents explained that they were Orthodox and I accepted it. But it kind of a, to me they felt as a altogether different culture. I have not been a synagogue before the war. I've never been to one. Uh, I just saw it from the outside. On High Holidays my parents would send my older sister and myself to an aunt, to where Holidays were celebrated. Apparently they wanted to expose us to Jewish Holidays, but none were practiced home.

In Warsaw?

In Warsaw. It was in Warsaw. And we had some relatives. My mother was one of twelve children. Eight of them--she was the youngest or one of the youngest. Eight of them lived in Warsaw and had large families and four were uh, in France and in Belgium. So I remember visiting our relatives. I remember the street life where, uh...

Let me stop for a second.


You were sent to that aunt and uncle?


But you still didn't go into a synagogue?

Not to the synagogue. For the Passover home. For uh, uh, some other High Holidays, for a dinner home and whatever traditional uh, prayers or, or blessings were said, but not to a synagogue. I have not been to a synagogue, to a Jewish synagogue until after the war when I was a young teenager. But somehow I knew about Jewishness. I can't even tell you how it came about, but all those individuals, I'm quite aware of the tra...traditions of Orthodoxy, it's--I'm quite aware of the lifestyle and it's almost like it came to me through osmosis or by exposure to other children in the area. Uh...

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