Stories of Village Life
Compiled by Martin Davis © 2016
‘Jewish Town’ Abraham Neuman 1873-1942
‘Jewish Town’ by Polish artist Abraham Neuman (1873-1942)

Shabbat and Shavuoth and


My father said that on Friday nights after services at the synagogue his father always brought home anyone who did not have a place to go for the Sabbath meal. He also told me that his parents were such good dancers that they would lead the wedding processions down the street (a tradition across the Ashkenazi communities). My mother told me that on Saturday, during the shabbat, the young people would get together and walk up and down the main street.  She showed me how she would walk with her girlfriend, arm in arm.  I think it was a time for the guys and girls  to sort of check each other out.  She called it ‘Shpa Shearen’ ( I have not idea how it's spelled and I think it is all one word).
‘Autumn’ Benzion Cucierman 1890-1944
She also said that the holiday of Shavuot  was such a lovely holiday in Stertzev.  She said everyone hung flowers and tree branches in their homes.  It was a very happy holiday for them.    Other than her parents the only other relative she told me about was her grandmother.  My mother used to spend the night with her grand mother, and they would put a brick in the fire place to heat it up and them wrap it and put it at the foot of the bed to keep them warm at night. Esther Levy
‘Autumn’ by Polish artist Benzion Cucierman (1890-1944)

An Apple Picking Holiday

My mother (Hannah Tauba Dawidowicz-Jakubowicz) told me that every summer her mother, father and grandmother (who sold lace in the market) would go apple picking with the family. They would hire a horse, cart and driver and go for miles in the direction of Austria [at that time Krakow was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire]. They went to an orchard where they lived for a month or so in primitive conditions. The parents and older children picked apples for the farmer and the younger ones (there were cousins too) played all day. For lunch they had bread and curd cheese and apples and for supper boiled potatoes and smetana. The potatoes were served in a huge pot and each child had their own spoon to fish out the potatoes and smetana. The children used to play ‘snowballs’ with tomatoes - which they did not eat (i.e. no one ate them).
Going to England My mum also told me that when their father was away in England (trying to establish himself in tailoring in the early 1900s) sometimes the family were very ‘broke’ and her mother would send mum (the oldest child) to the local inn to buy a huge jug of kosher gravy which they would eat with potatoes for supper. My grandmother (Machla Dawidowicz) did not want to leave Poland but finally, very reluctantly, agreed to go to England [this was in 1911]. On her way with the 5 children they travelled through southern Poland, Germany and into Belgium. They had to change trains in Germany and whilst she was getting the children on board the train suddenly started, leaving her oldest boy (aged about 4 years). Apparently the guard telegraphed back and the boy was delivered safely to her in Belgium and they all departed together on the sea crossing to England. They never returned to Poland. Sylvie Hyams
The Dawidowicz children soon after their arrival in England (1913).
The Dawidowicz children soon after their arrival in England
Click to enlarge image
Click to enlarge image
Click to enlarge image