Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Henry Dorfman - August 11 & 25, 1989

Religious Life

Was your family religious?

My family was religious, yes. My fa...my grandfather, one, from my mother's side was a shochet in a town called Demblin on the, on the Vistula too, like, like my little town was. The whole background of his they were all very religious. I myself was, was wearing the Jewish traditional costume through about 1938. Listen, there was no such thing in Poland in a family like us not to be religious. I mean, there were people that sometime in their own mind believing in no--the religious uh, behaving, but everybody was going to shul every Saturday or uh, us we were going twice a day. We were going in the morning to shul and, and at night.

What would a Friday night have been like in your house?

Friday night was a traditional dinner. It was a very--I remember sometime my father used to go out to farmers to uh, and he used to leave three o'clock, four o'clock in the morning--Friday morning because he knew that by one o'clock he had to be home with horse and buggies you know or, or walking. And God forbid, believe me, sometime if he would come back which it was time to about six uh, six o'clock, you know, to be in shul, but if he come home two o'clock or two thirty, he did not drive. He left the horses and the buggy outside by some uh, what do you call? Gentile friend and he walked in the back to come in that nobody should see him at two o'clock. There was on Saturday night, there was, there was usually, there was no invitations for Friday night in the family because, listen, we were five--two brothers and sister--four. We were four. My mother and father. And then we always figured that we're going to have one or two people--hungry people eating with us. Because we usually picked them up. They, they came to shul, to the synagogue, you know and they were uh, not specifically saying that they were beggars, some of them were. It was, it was very rough in Poland. There was a lot of Jewish people that they didn't--couldn't make a living. And those where they could help and did. And we always had our provision. I don't think if it was a Friday night that we didn't have an oirach--what they call it, you know what I'm saying.


Uh, that we didn't have oirach for dinner. And the dinner was a traditional--with the Kiddush and uh, father used to say Kiddush and we had to stand up and nobody could touch a spoon or anything until father started. There was no like it's going on in the world, everybody sits down and boom, you know. I even tried that my kids, they were, they were all going to U of M. And most of the time I would say Friday night they were home here, even in the United States, I made sure that they come home for the, for the traditional dinner.

You'd sing songs?

Yes, yes.

So you continued it in, in, in the States?

Absolutely. I mean, I, I make sure, I mean, that I'm going Saturday to daven, that there's nothing in my way, to play golf or to play tennis or to do anything on Saturdays. Saturdays I go to shul. I'm not saying that I am as religious orthodox, no, I changed over here. Because I like the uh, to be more modern. But I believe in God and I believe in the Jewish tradition and I believe in Judaism because that's the way I was brought up and I love it.

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