Yehudit Kotzer (Zulakover)
lest I burst into tears / Poland
discussed and recorded by Dov V, Ein Hashofet, 1976
I grew up in Warsaw in Monovaska-Mila Street. Father was a member of “Mizrahi”, one of the revisionists, one who was totally Zionist and more.
Mother was stricter about being kosher than father. On more than one occasion she went to the Rabbi to ask but father always said to her “Why do you need that? Throw away the chicken. In any event you won’t accept the Rabbi’s ruling”.
Father had a large library – an entire wall. Although he was a working man, when he returned from work, on Saturdays and holidays, he would sit with his books. And when Passover came near he would go over every book, page by page, and clean then, remove the dust to ensure that no dirt or hametz would adhere to them.
The Seder itself was magnificent. I remember that it would end at 2 o’ clock in the morning.
There was a huge ceremony – father was “king” and mother “queen”. Father would wear a white kittel (kaftan) as he did for all the holy festivals. Father would read and as only my brothers understood Hebrew, father would stop from time to time and tell us one of the stories and commentate on them in Yiddish, of course, and he added all kinds of legends.
On the morning after the Seder we ate the special “bubaleh” pancakes – this was a very puffy egg pancake, from milk and a lot of yolk! Of course we ate a lot of matza with goose fat. That is what we looked forward to! And I also remember the “cremzelach” boiled potatoes crushed with eggs, a sort of fritter, which accompanied the meat dishes.
The festival of Passover was also s-p-r-i-n-g in Poland. Not only did we welcome the festival with the external signs – it was also inside of us. There was a special taste to life although we were not religious. The festival left a very strong impression. I do not see in tradition a boring repetition. In order for there to be tradition with us – we need to return to the essence.
When I was already in training – for two years we sat in the village and almost never went home even for a visit – when the festival arrived we were struck with strong longing – it was so strong that I had to distance myself from the group so that I didn’t break down crying in front of everyone.