Sara Grossman (Part I)

Please tell me where you were born.

I, Sara Grossman nee Rosenberg, was born in Ruskowa, Romania, which later became part of Hungary. In 1937 my family moved to Santamaria (Satmar), because my father had bought a lot of real estate there. We lived at 17 Butchkawi Street. We had a good life.

The Satmar Rebbe, zy”a, lived in your town. Do you have any recollection of him?

I remember the Satmar Rebbetzin who lived with her illustrious husband in our town. One time when I was at the butcher shop, she came in and asked the butcher if the meat was glatt. I had never heard this term before. When she was told that it was not glatt, she didn’t buy it. When I arrived home, I told my mother and she explained to me what it meant.

The Satmar Rebbe would come to shul each Shabbos. His Chassidim would travel from far and wide to be with him for Shabbos and the Yamim Tovim. The Rebbe had a shtiebel where he davened, but on Shabbos he would daven in the main shul.

What memories can you share with us about your family?

I had one older sister and three brothers: an older brother named Shloima, and a younger brother, Mordechai. My mother’s sister died young, and she took her nephew Gedalia in to live with us. He was just 3 years old. My mother raised him as her own child.

I slept with my maternal grandmother Baila Feig every night so that she wouldn’t be alone. In addition, there was a bedroom that was set aside for bachurim who came from out of our town to learn in the local yeshivah.

My father was very careful with shemiras Shabbos. I clearly remember him telling me that in his entire life he was only mechallel Shabbos once, when he was tricked into believing that he was riding on a Shabbos train when in truth it was not.

We lived together with our extended family. My father would travel to America for business purposes and remain there for two years at a time. In America, he worked at a machine sewing clothing. He would send us the money that he made so that we could support ourselves. My mother wrote letters to him each week and he responded accordingly.

My mother, Raizel, was a very generous person. She would often send me to the elderly or poor people to help. I recall that during the summertime I would bring milk to the poor, but my mother didn’t want anyone to see what we were doing, so I had to wear a shawl in the middle of the summer, when the heat was quite intense. I would tell those who questioned me that I was actually very cold.

When my mother shopped, she would buy everything in large quantities so that she could give out to others. My mother ran an open house. There were many people who came to eat during the week and especially on Shabbos. The boys from the yeshivah in our town could always find a hot meal at our house; in Europe it was referred to as [Essen] Teg.

What kind of education did you receive?

In the morning we went to a Romanian public school. In the afternoon we went to a Jewish school. We learned to read and write Yiddish. The teacher was very strict; if we didn’t know our work he would hit us on the tips of our fingers with a stick. My formal education ended when I was in the eighth grade.

Can you recall something special about Shabbos and Yom Tov from your childhood years?

Each Shabbos, my mother would prepare a pot of cholent and bring it to the communal oven where it would cook the whole night, along with the cholent pots of other families in town. I recall that Shabbos afternoon we would dress up and go for a walk, to meet and talk with our neighbors and friends.

Before Pesach we had one room in the house which we cleaned well. We moved the family into this room for Yom Tov. We had a woman who helped all year around the house. However, Pesach time was different. My sister and I took turns going to the barn to milk the cows ourselves, for my mother didn’t trust her.

One Pesach, a piece of bread was found in the well. We couldn’t use the water. We had to walk a long distance and drag water from a different well.

to be continued

These survivors’ memoirs are being compiled by Project Witness.

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