A story by Julian Działakiewicz
A story told by Julian Działakiewicz (2003)
The Oral History Programme, The "Grodzka Gate – NN Theatre" Centre
Jews in Włodawa
Jews instead of a proper coffin have just a box, a wooden box. Jews didn't bury their dead in coffins. They wrapped them in white fabric, but undressed them first. The casket was carried by four men. And when somebody rang a bell, they'd put it down, and stand there, until the bell would stop ringing, at which time they took it up again and run along. They went fast, almost like running... Synagogue. The synagogue was right next to the Red Cross street. The first building was a school of Hebrew, then there was one for the Judgment Night, they prayed there. And here, a bit further on, there was a temple, this higher building. Nobody knows where in Włodawa a rabbi lived. Rabbis walked in plain clothes. The Jews had their slaughterhouse. There they slaughtered animals for their kosher meat, because a chicken or a goose, or a duck, it always had to be kosher. You needed one such that could kill the proper way. Because when he didn't, then it wasn't kosher, they didn't eat it, they'd throw it away. There was a bathhouse in Włodawa. Jews went there every Friday. And there they whipped themselves with some brooms or something like that, so my father told me. The bathhouse was down there, as you go down the Jatkowska mountain. And the slaughterhouse was there. Our people also went to this Jewish bathhouse. Everyone went there, there were baths, you paid however much, you went there, you bathed.
Jews had long, curly sidelocks, and skullcaps with a peak. They dressed with variety, they even went around in hats. The Eastern Orthodox on the other hand didn't look any different from Catholics. The Jewish intelligentsia did not abide by their commandments. They ate sausage, and pork fat, they ate anything available. There were no Jews among city officials.