Ida Tenenbaum (Part I)

As told to Mrs. Chaya Feigy Grossman

Can you tell us your name and where you were born?

I, Ida Tenenbaum, was born in Tarnow, Poland, on December 27, 1924. I was born to a lovely chassidishe family.

Many Rebbes came to visit our town; amongst them were the Chortkova Rebbe and the Stutchiner Rav. They always stayed at our home. My father was known for his open home and wonderful heart. As children, we loved it.

I recall one Simchas Torah where my father took me to the Dzikover Rebbe. It was very crowded and there was standing room only. My father didn’t know where to put me down. Instead he put me on top of a high box. When the Rebbe came in, the Chassidim began to push and I fell down, into the crowd.

I have very fond memories of my childhood years growing up in Poland. Even though we didn’t live in luxury, it was a loving home.

What memories can you share with us about your family?

My father was a prominent Jew in the community. He was considered a big scholar, a great talmid chacham. He gave shiurim all over town. Yet as big as he was, he would still sit down on the floor with us, his children, and play. He always made time for us.

I learned a lot from my mother. She was a tzaddekes. My mother had an extremely big kettle on the stovetop with soup cooking to feed the poor families in town. She would have baskets of bread ready to be distributed. I often went together with my mother to visit the sick people in the hospital. My mother was very involved in the bikur cholim organization. Later on in my life, I stepped into her shoes and tried to emulate what she did.

We were five children, two boys and three girls. My parents taught us to have a lot of bitachon in the Eibershter. My youngest brother Itchala had a beautiful voice; it was so beautiful, that as a young boy of five or six years old, he was chosen as the soloist in the choir of Yossele Rosenblatt. As a young boy, he earned 100 zlotys for his singing, which was considered a tremendous amount. It was with this money that we were able to purchase clothing for Yom Tov.

Can you describe what Shabbos was like at home?

Besides for our family of seven people, we always invited guests. We had a nice size apartment and we always had an open house. When the guests who arrived were men, the women would move to the kitchen. There were beautiful zemiros at the Shabbos table. My father invited many orphans to join us for the seudah.

Did you feel anti-Semitism in your town prior to the onset of the War?

Life in Poland was pretty good at that time. There was definitely anti-Semitism but the Jews basically kept to themselves.

In 1933, when I was a child growing up in Poland, the trains were free for children under 10 years old. There was a neighbor of ours traveling on the train and she offered to take my younger brother and me with her as she traveled. So we went along with her as we traveled to my married sister who lived in Chechin. The neighbor went off the train about 15 minutes before our stop.

There was a gentile boy on the train who started up with my little brother. He began to pull his peyos. My brother was crying in pain and I was crying from fright. I went up to the conductor and reported it, asking him to help us. His answer to us was, “You Jews always make trouble.”

to be continued

These survivors’ memoirs are being compiled by Project Witness.