First half of an 89 minute long interview, on 2 cassettes. In a 5 minute series of clips from this portion, Professor of Theology Gregory Baum speaks of his early history and his internment experience upon arriving in Canada in 1939.
Interview by Leslie Lutsky. Digitized as WAV and WMA, Oct. 2016. In this short interview (5 min. 47 seconds), Evelyn Brook discusses the plight of Agunot (women whose husbands refuse to grant a Jewish divorce), and her organization's work helping these women obtain their Get certificates.
Interview by Leslie Lutsky. In a 5 minute excerpt from this 19 minute interview, Bryna Wasserman discusses the challenges of presenting Pirates of Penzance in Yiddish. The complete interview is available in digital format on request.
Isak Cieply was born on February 1, 1924 in Starachowice, Poland. He had five siblings and the family was very poor. In the fall of 1939, soon after the German invasion, the Jews of Starachowice were ordered to move into the ghetto. Isak was selected to work in a steel factory and his work pass protected him from round-ups. At the beginning of 1943 he was sent to the Bugaj camp to work in a supplies warehouse. In the summer of 1944 the camp was liquidated after rumours of the approach of the Soviet army had spread. The prisoners were taken to Auschwitz. Isak was sent to work in an electric supplies warehouse in Buna/Auschwitz III. There he met a German soldier who proposed a deal that Isak accepted. Isak was to supply this soldier with electric materials and, in return, he would get a loaf of bread every day. In January 1945 Isak was sent on a death march to the Flossenbürg concentration camp. Sometime later he was sent on another death march but succeeded to escape with some fellow prisoners. They eventually met American soldiers. After liberation Isak worked as the chief supplier of the Pfarrkirchen and Eggenfelden DP camps. He immigrated to Canada in 1948 and married the late Regina Cieply who was also a survivor. They had four children and several grandchildren, among them Jamie Benizri.
Elie Dawang was born on January 4, 1934 in Paris, France, to Lithuanian parents. Elie has good memories of his early childhood, being raised by loving and well-off parents. In May 1940, the Dawangs left Paris for a small village near the Spanish border. Despite the great danger, they went back to Paris to liquidate the business of Feivish, Elie’s father. The three of them were arrested in September 1941 and while Feivish managed to get Elie out of prison, he couldn’t do anything to save himself or his wife. They were both sentenced and sent to jail for possessing false papers. They both ended up in Auschwitz, but Elie’s mother was gassed upon arrival whereas Feivish survived the war. Meanwhile, Elie was being taken care of by a Jewish woman. Elie and his caretaker almost got arrested during the roundup of Vel d’Hiv but managed to hide. After a few months hiding in the suburbs of Paris, they moved to the country where they stayed until liberation. When Paris was liberated, they moved back there and Elie returned to school. He reunited with his father in May 1945. They moved to Canada in 1951 with Elie’s stepmother. Elie describes the process to immigrate, his first impressions of Montreal and Canada and his involvement in Holocaust education.
Video : VCR tape : English : duration: 16.88 seconds
Mrs. Millie Lande discusses the events of September 11th in relation to the Shaar Hashomayim Congregation. Mrs. Lande states, “We must have faith that we can go forward and we can still do and fulfill the dreams that all of us have for the synagogue.”
20 minute interview by Leslie Lutsky for Radio Centreville. In a six and a half minute excerpt, Wendy Eisen speaks about the activity of the Group of 35 and her 1995 book about the history of the Soviet Jewry movement in Canada. The complete interview is available in digital format (WAV and WMA).
Video : VCR tape : English : duration: 18.11 seconds
The Congregation offers elderly people a range of socializing activities. One woman explains them in the following way, “Sunday can be the loneliest day in the week, so we are able to get up, get dressed, put on your makeup and away we go.”
Interview by E. Harris. S. Cytrynbaum (excerpted) and A. Rose describe the project undertaken by Canadian Jewish Congress to aid in the immigration of Ethiopian Jews to Canada. Portions of the recording have some confidentiality restrictions. Digitized as WAV and WMA Feb 2015, SDVD 046.
Ursula Feist (née Erber) was born on June 2, 1921 in Berlin, Germany. Before Hitler, Ursula, her parents and sister, Brigitta, lived in a comfortable economic status. Ursula had a good educational background. Her father was very observant and Ursula discusses how she might have turned out more observant in her life today, had she not been forced by her father to go to synagogue. With the rise of Nazism, Ursula describes living in perpetual fear from 1933 until 1939. Beginning in 1934, the family experienced financial hardship and Ursula went to a commercial college to learn how to type and take short hand. She found employment at an Italian agency from March until November 1938 -- Kristallnacht. Ursula describes Kristallnacht as the most horrible thing: she remembers coming down in the morning and seeing windows smashed and synagogues burning.
By the beginning of 1939, many Jews were leaving Germany. Ursula obtained tickets to Shanghai from the Italian agency for her parents and sister. For herself, she made arrangements to go to England to stay with a longtime pen pal. On May 19, 1939, two weeks before her eighteenth birthday she got onto a children's transport to England. Her parents left for Shanghai in June 1939. She remembers the SS coming on the train and emptying out suitcases to find anything of value. In England, Ursula stayed with the Wicker family near Chester in North England. The family treated Ursula like one of their own. She had to adjust to a life where she did not have to worry.
Ursula went to Birmingham and trained as a nurse. In May 1940, she was interned at a woman’s camp on the Isle of Man for one year. The British government had no way of knowing who was a Nazi sympathizer so they interned everybody. While in the camp, she met a woman from Munich who was the aunt of her future husband, David. Ursula worked as a waitress in the Cumberland Hotel and David came and asked her if he could take her to the theatre. Later she got a monitoring service job at the BBC. She listened to Hitler's speeches and had to translate and transcribe them. She and David married in 1943. David wanted to join the Commandos when he learnt that his mother was killed but instead he got into the intelligence corps and then the pioneer corps. Their first son, Anthony, was born in London in 1948.
By this time, communication with Ursula’s parents had stopped. They had been living under Japanese control in Shanghai and under terrible circumstances. After the war they immigrated to Minneapolis, United States. Her father had angina and died. Later, her mother and sister moved to New York. Life in post-war England was difficult due to very high taxes. In 1951, Ursula and David came to Canada in search of employment. They did not go to the United States because they were afraid that their son would be drafted. Their second son, Daniel was born in Montreal in 1954. Ursula worked in the Neurological Hospital and then the Royal Victoria Hospital as an administrative assistant to the chief of surgery. Her children are both married and she has two grandchildren from each son. Ursula talks about the fact that she is still homesick for London; they visit very often and have very close friends there. She has also been back to Berlin several times.