Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Michael Weiss - October 7, 1994

Religious Life II

So Friday night you would go to shul before, before dinner?

B...b, Oh yes, yes.

And, and your--just you and your father?

Well, that's, that's, that's uh, and my grandfather. We went the three of us till he was alive and uh, naturally yes, yes.

And then, you would eat.

Then we come home, visit, we sing Shalom Aleichem, make Kiddush, and then we would eat, yes.

And then bentsch?

Oh yes. Bentsch, bentsch uh, uh, when I got bar mitzvah, you see if three people eats at the table, they have to bentsch. That's--and when I got bar mitzvah I was the third one. And they gave me the honor. Little thing like that, to me, that was very big. I got the honor to lead the bentsch.

So the whole town was this way?

Uh, in my town I would say ninety-eight percent, ninety-eight percent of the Jewish people attended every Friday night and uh, Saturday's services.

What was the shul like?

The shul, the shul, the shul--we had, we had uh, really two shuls. One was called the Beis Hamidrash. The rabbi davened with his followers with the Yeshiva Bucheren and then right in that uh, uh, place, there was another room. And it was a nice shul. It was a nice shul. Not to the standards of uh, Detroit maybe--Shaarey Zedek, B'Nai Moshe. Not in that standard, but it was like a home. You went in there and you was home. You knew ever...everybody and you talked to everybody and they made you feel--it was a home--it was a family. It was a family yes. Yes.

You said there were two places.

Well yes, that was--yeah. The rabbi davened in one, in one of the rooms, in one of the--and the congregation, the congregation--he just came in twice a year and he said a--he made a drasha, a speech Shabbat HaGadol, what was before Pesach. And Shabbat Shuvah what is before Yom Kippur between ??? and Yom Kippur the Shabbat is called Shabbat HaGadol.

It was a Yeshiva?

No. No, that was--well you might call it, it--you see a shtiebel what I understand would be a small place sometime even in a basement. A shtiebel. But this was a big place. But let me tell you, this place didn't have no air conditioning. This place on yom tov you were standing packed in. No sitting place for many. This place had people from all over Hungary. This place they were davening especially, especially already 1938, 1939, '40, '41. When we could feel and see Hitler, we didn't know what he's gonna do. But we could see the laws coming up. We could hear his speeches. When I say we could hear his speeches, not many of us had radios. Televisions--I'm sure not. Even newspapers. It was very few and it took two, three days before we got that was called the fresh news. By train, trains. So I don't think we were so well-informed, but we knew what will, will be. What the end will be. And what it did really happened, none of us dreamed. But the davening, the crying in the davening, nobody complained it's hot, it's not hot. Even though it's hot, we didn't care. We were praying to God. God of our forefathers. We believed that up there, we had friends there. We have our forefathers Abraham, Jacob, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob. And we were praying to them. Very hard. [pause]

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