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       rites of passage




Shiku Smilovics of Munkács
Aug 1945
Liberec, C.S.R.
After Liberation

Shiku was born in Munkachevo, Czechoslovakia (later Munkács, Hungary) in 1925. He and his father Mordche Shmiel were eventually taken to and imprisoned in Auschwitz and later Buchenwald; only Shiku survived. The following excerpt has been taken from, with permission, his story entitled "Buchenwald 56466."

The Bar Mitzvah

Personal Recollections

February 1941

"I am thirteen years old and my Bar Mitzvah will take place in the small Zedichov shtiebel on the Puspuk gasse (lane) where the Kliver Rebbi, Chaim Joseph Eichenstein, the son of the great Zedichov Rebbi Menashe Eichenstein is in charge. This shtiebel was like a second home to me; we pray in this place daily and my School of Jewish Learning cheder is also here. The Kliver Rebbi often asks me to take him to the Mikve twice a week, Mondays and Thursdays. I walk with him and he leans on me with his right hand and tells me all about his son who was taken away, and how worried he is about him. On Fridays, I have the duties to pick up some meat for his mother, the old Zedechov rebecin, from the butcher Ackerman on the Yidishe gass (lane) at no charge. My Bar Mitzvah was nothing like you see in North America; all the trimmings were gefilte fish, challes and bilkes, wine and beer, served at the shaloshudes (Shabbat third meal) for the whole congregation on Saturday. I said a Dvar Torah (explication of Biblical text). The Kliver Rebbi seated at the head table was very pleased with my presentation. As I finished, he pinched my cheek and said: 'You will grow up to be a Ben Torah (a son of the Torah).' I liked the Kliver Rebbi very much. In all his talks he warns the people, he is aggressive, look what is happening in Poland. 'And look what is happening right here! Run to wherever you can and escape the destruction of your families. Start a collection of arms, you will need it badly soon!' Like a Prophet he foresaw the dark clouds gathering upon the Jewish people and tried to persuade the congregation. But the people thought that he was too aggressive, crazy, and bewildered."


Bar mitzvahs

New York,

Max Fuchs,
New York

Sandor Hecht.

Gerhard Schreiber,

Chiel Mendel
Paris, France

Shiku Smilovic,

Bar Mitzvah Ceremony,
Vienna, Austria

A Bar Mitzvah in
Opatów, Poland,


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