Montreal's Jewish neighbourhood of Papineau

Bar Mitzvahs, intermarriage, divorce, food

Audio is ON Q: What about things like, uh, did anybody marry someone who wasn't Jewish? A: You asked me about the Herman family. Somebody that married who wasn't Jewish, and it was Really bad. Q: "Really bad" meaning people would..? A: Like, "would you believe that?" That kind of thing. And I know Archie Cohen, who was a friend of mine, he lived on De La Roche St., his mother was French-Canadian and his father Jewish, and everybody knew it, I mean, nothing, y'know, but... Q: Had she converted? A: I think so. Q: ...but it was a big deal. What about divorces? Are they around then? A: (Pause) I dont think I know of one divorce. Q: What about people getting pregnant? A: Well, uh, Madeleine, an Italian girl on Cartier street, got pregnant before she got married, it's Madeleine or Margaret, I think Madeleine. Margaret was the one that Dave Kunigas had a picture of. Q: You said there were Bar Mitzvahs? A: Oh, well, Bar Mitzvahs were like a, a religious thing... (pause) there's no such thing as non-bar mitzvah. Q: They had a big celebration or not as big? A: Not, nothing like now... myself i just went up and said my thing. Q: And was that common? A: Particularly, in my case i think more than others, because my mother gave birth to judy about the same time. Q: What about your friends? A: No, they're all small, yeah, small things. Q: Was there such thing as klezmer music going on? Recognizable as that ? A: When i hear some klezmer music now, there's some of it that my mother used to sing and dance to. Q: At a wedding - did you go to any weddings? While you were a kid, before you were marrigeable age yourself? A: (Pause) Would you believe, I don't think I ever went to a wedding. Q: Ok, weddings for your friends: what music would people play? What would they listen to? Was it Jewish stuff or stuff on the radio? A: I think Jewish stuff, yeah. Q: You don't know of any tunes? A: No. Q: And food. what was, like, what did you usually get? Boiled chicken, like we used to get from Muriel? A: Boiled chicken, gefilte fish, flanken, uh, borscht, um, halashkes, particularly us because we were Russian, you know, we were immigrants. So... all of that. Q: At klezklamp they're constantly making jokes about chullent. Did you get that? A: Chullent, yeah. What did they say about that? Q: How bad it is, you have to make it well ahead of time, I don't know why it's the butt of jokes. A: ...and my mother would make cherry jam that i flipped over, and apple pie, and when we were up in the country we'd pick chokecherries, they make wonderful jam.
Return to main page.