This is the afternoon of December 19, 2003, and we’re in the Federation
Building at 1175 College Avenue. My name is Naomi Schottenstein and I’m the
interviewer with the Columbus Jewish Historical Society and this afternoon I’m
interviewing Manné Aronovsky. Good afternoon Manné.
Aronovsky: Good afternoon.
Interviewer: And I’m going to ask you a little bit about your name. It’s
a little unusual and probably get a little bit of background and tell us about
your Jewish name and a little bit more about your name.
Aronovsky: Well I have a Yiddish name, not a Hebrew name. My Yiddish name is Mindel.
I was named after, I believe, a great uncle Mendel. I was named Mendel, and in
Europe at the time that I was born and I believe it still exists to this day,
you don’t register your child through the hospital. You have to go to city
hall to register and give your child a name. So when I was born my mother sent
my father to city hall and to name me Monique ’cause I was born in Belgium.
And I was born on the 8th of the month so I suppose on the 10th, 9th or 10th, he
went to city hall. Didn’t know too much French but suggested to the clerk that
he wanted me named Monique. And we will never know whether this is true or not
but the clerk, whether he said it in jest or whether it was true, said,
“Well the quota for the name Monique has been used up for this month. You
can’t use Monique.” Well my father was very flustered, didn’t want to
go back and check another name so he said, “Okay, give me the first M that
you have on the list.” So this is how I got the name Manné
, M-A-N-N-É .
Interviewer: Oh, it was first on the list?
Aronovsky: First on the list. Nonetheless, my mother was not very happy that
she didn’t have the Monique but this is why I’m named Manné.
Interviewer: Manné suits you. It’s really a
nice soft feminine name and Monique is very Frenchy and Manné
seems to fit in with other …
Aronovsky: I’ve never met anyone named Manné
so I’m unique.
Interviewer: I was going to ask you that. That’s unique. And your maiden
name, your original family name?
Aronovsky: Was Eckstein. My father, E-C-K-S-T-E-I-N. Actually it was, some of
the letters were removed. My father was Polish so it was E-K-Z-T-E-J-N or
something like that, the Polish version. But when we came to this country we
shortened it and took away the extra letters and it just ended up being
Interviewer: Okay. Tell us, well you said you were born in Belgium, let’s
start there. What do you remember of that part of your life?
Aronovsky: I was very, I was born in 1933 and …
Interviewer: What is your birth date?
Aronovsky: April 8, ’33. And of course the war started in 1940 so Belgium I
remember only up until the age of 7. There are scenes that I recall. I remember
one time we lived in an apartment with a big dining room and there was this sofa
in the dining room and I was ill either with chicken pox or smallpox or one of
the juvenile diseases and I remember sleeping on the couch in the dining room so
that I could be near my mother in the kitchen. I don’t remember too much of
Belgium itself. I did go to second or third grade, I don’t remember. My early
childhood, just vague recollections. Certainly before the war, I don’t
remember much of . . . . of war.
Interviewer: So you were about 7 when you left Belgium?
Aronovsky: Right. When the war started.
Interviewer: Did you have siblings at that stage?
Aronovsky: I have an older sister. She’s 5 years older and she’s still
Interviewer: We’re going to talk more about her, about that in a little bit
but I want to establish the direction you went from Belgium.
Aronovsky: Well the Germans first bombed Belgium the middle of May, 1940. And
my father was not a college-educated man. He was a Yiddish-educated man. He read
the Yiddish paper, he’d gone to cheder. We went to, were Orthodox, kept
kosher and so on. He was not a man of the world but he did know what was going
on in the rest of the world which everybody else did as well. And so he knew
what was going on in Germany since 1933, since Hitler had occupied Germany and
Austria. And he knew that eventually there would be war. And he began to prepare
for it. So in 1937 or ’38, he came to the United States by himself to see
whether, what was going on, whether he could make a living. My father was a
diamond-setter. He was in the jewelry business in Belgium which, most Jews in
Antwerp were somehow associated with jewelry, with diamonds. And because he was
Polish, he had gone to the American Consulate to get a visa but there was a
quota for Poles at that time. So there was no way that he could get a visa to
bring the whole family over which is what he wanted. So he came those years as a
visitor into the United States, stayed here for a few months, and came back to
Belgium and said, “Well we’re going to have to somehow make arrangements
to flee Belgium however we can in order to get as close to the coast as possible
and then somehow try to get out of Europe because there is going to be a war and
we Jews are the target.” Well when the bombs first dropped on, I believe it
was May 10, 1940, my father was ready. We packed our bags that very day.
Interviewer: What was the atmosphere in the rest of the community as far as
you can remember?
Aronovsky: I don’t know about the whole community but I do know that we had
family and they were ready to flee as well. My father had a younger sister and
her husband and child. My mother had her parents and sister and we had some
other friends and we all got, there must have been about 15 of us, and I do
recall all of us getting together in our apartment, each one with a suitcase and
getting ready to flee on foot. ‘Course we didn’t have any automobiles. Just
like in most major cities, public transportation was very good so we never owned
an automobile but we said, “We’re leaving. We’re going.”
Interviewer: So all of your belongings were just in …
Aronovsky: Everything we made a place in the apartment, we just put, it was
May so it was warm. We put one sweater each for evenings. We took some food. We
took whatever would fit into one suitcase. And my father who seemed to be the
leader of the group, he made the decisions, told the group that we should go to
North- ern France, the closest place that we could cross over the English
Channel to get into England. He felt, my father felt, that if we just escaped
the continent, some- how we would be safe if we were in England. He felt that
England would be our saviour, notwithstanding the White Paper and all of the
other things that England did against the Zionists. And he was a very fierce
Zionist. He just wanted to leave the continent. And so we started walking and we
walked from Brussels which is in the northern part of Belgium, all along the
coast of the, starting with the North Sea, walking and then across to northern
France and it took us maybe two weeks ’till we got to a place in France …
Interviewer: How did you manage . . . . night?
Aronovsky: It was summer. It was June so it was warm. The French farmers or
the French people along the way were most kind to us. They let us stay in their
barns. We stayed, they would invite us into their homes. They shared their food
with us. We had some money so we were able to purchase things along the way,
purchase food. There was a lot of chaos. The first, we left when the bombing was
still going on so as we were walking, everybody was fleeing. The bombs were
dropping and people were just leaving, going they knew not where but they were
escaping. They were running away from wherever the bombs were being dropped. And
the early part of the war, most of the planes flew during the day. They didn’t
seem to have, whether it was radar or whatever, they couldn’t fly at night so
they flew during the day and they did their bombing during the day. And most of
the com- motions were during the day. My father said, “You know what? We
will stay put during the day outside of the cities, outside villages, and we
will only travel at night.” ‘Cause at night it was quiet. At least the
bombs weren’t dropping, dropped at night. And I think this is what saved us
because we stayed put during most of the day …
Interviewer: I want to ask you, in this group that you were traveling with,
that included your grandparents?
Aronovsky: Right. It was my mother’s parents who had a restaurant in
Brussels, my grandfather and my grandmother. My mother had a younger sister, an
unmarried sister. My father had a married sister with her husband and a little
girl. And two other couples. So there must have been about 15. And my sister and
Interviewer: As young as you were, was your sister older?
Aronovsky: Five years older.
Interviewer: And your cousin?
Aronovsky: She was a year old.
Interviewer: So she couldn’t walk. She had to be carried?
Aronovsky: . . . . to be carried.
Interviewer: And your grandparents were able to keep up?
Aronovsky: It was, we walked very slowly. My grandfather had a heart
condition so he walked slowly. Along the way, people were pushing baby carriages
with things in them, pulling . . . . automobiles littered and left abandoned on
the road because there was, after they used up their gas, there was no gas to be
had. So everything that could be pushed on wheels manually was certainly worth
something. But we walked and we walked slowly . . . . You know, we walked as
much as we could and our destination was going to be somewhere in northern
France, either Calais or somewhere which was the closest place, the shortest
distance across the English Channel.
Interviewer: Can you give us an idea of the distance between your home town
Aronovsky: Oh I’d have to look it up on a map. I . . . . I think we walked
probably a week, 10 days, maybe 2 weeks we walked and when we finally aproached
a small village in northern France and somehow my father thought we ought not
all to go into that village. He said something wasn’t right. His intuition was
such that he felt it just wasn’t right for us to go en masse into that
village. And he said he would go and scout it out. And for some reason I never
asked him and he’s dead now so I can’t ask him, he took me along with him.
So the two of us, hand-in-hand, walked into this little village and, oh for a
moment the name of the village escapes me but it will come to me. Dunkirk. And
we saw people in uniform that we didn’t recognize. We heard voices that were
not familiar and we looked around and my father realized they were speaking
English and that they were British soldiers. They were the soldiers, oh, for
some reason it’s just fleetingly left me . . . . It will come back to me. The
Germans had encircled France and the British Expeditionary Forces were
retreating and they were all fleeing from northern France going, retreating back
into England and using every available sailing vessel to get them across whether
it was a rowboat or a sailboat or whatever, just to get the British forces
across and retreating because sometimes you have to retreat and regroup in order
to to fight again. And the little bit of English my father spoke, he asked one
of the officers, he said, “We have a group of 12-15 civilians. We’d like
to get across into England.” And the officers said, “I have orders
only to take back my men. I cannot take any of the civilians back.” So my
father was very, very disappointed. Here we had walked all the way to where we
thought was our destination to get across and we couldn’t make it. So we
started walking back to the group to give them the bad news and suddenly we
smelled some hot food. We had only cold food that we’d eaten: bread, water,
milk, fruits and vegetables that Belgian and French farmers were very generous
sharing with us. But all of a sudden we smelled something warm and something hot
and we approached it and in a barn next to, by a farm house were some British
soldiers who were waiting their turn to go across. And they were cooking a stew
in their helmets. In World War II the helmets are all metal when they were used
for cooking and they were cooking, they had gotten some sort of meat or had
killed, who knows, but they were cooking and it smelled delicious. And my father
and a little 7-year-old child approaching them and the little bit of English
that we knew and sign language he was able to tell them that we were hungry and
what we were doing and what our plight was and they generously shared their stew
with us and every time I make a stew, that image, I can smell back to be around
the little fire and eating out of the British soldier’s helmet. And we told
them that we had to go back because we were encircled by the Germans. We couldn’t
get to England. We couldn’t go further into France ’cause the Germans were
already there. And one of them said, “You know there is a cart, a horseless
cart chained in the back.” He said, “If you want that cart, at least
you could put your father-in-law and the little girl on top and then you can
chain yourself or chain yourself to it and pull it back. At least you will be
walking and you won’t be having to carry your things.” And sure enough we
went back and took some tools and goodness knows how they broke the chain and we
stole that cart. We came back to the group and at least that tempered the bad
news of telling them that we couldn’t go on to England. So we put all our
luggage on the cart and my grandfather and I hitched rides on it every once in a
while and we walked back to Brussels. We thought we had no choice but to go
back. So we went all the way back to Brussels. We got back to the apartment. The
landlord’s family was already living in our apartment ’cause they figured,
“Hey, these Jews aren’t going to come back.” So luckily for us and
fortunately they were fine, decent people and we did go back to our apartment.
They let us back in and for the next few …
Interviewer: What about your other relatives? Did they …
Aronovsky: They all found their way back as well. The restaurant was still
bolted and locked, my grandparents’ restaurant. We were gone a short time and
initially, nothing much had happened the first couple of weeks of invasion. My
father said, “We’re going to make better plans this time. We can’t just
pack a suitcase and flee goodness knows where. We’re going to have to make
better plans.” So we sold everything that was saleable whether it was my
mother’s furs, my mother’s jewelry, silver, whatever we had of value we
sold. And being that my father was in the diamond business, he bought little
diamond chips and he had a friend of his, a tailor, make him a false belt for
his trousers and put them in this belt. He said, “You know little diamonds
you can always barter. The average German soldier has a girlfriend, a wife, a
mother. You can always, for papers, for food, you can always barter with
diamonds. That and music is an international language.” And he said,
“We’re going to try again but we’re going to go toward Portugal. We’re
going to see if we can get out of Portugal,” which we figured would remain
neutral. And he approached his sister who was married to a rather well-to-do
jeweler as well and the brother-in-law said, “You know, I can deal and I
can trade with these Germans for a certain time. As soon as I make, amass X
amount of dollars, I’m going to flee. But in the meantime, I think I’m going
to stay here.” It was the very beginning of the war, the Nazis, the Gestapo
had not come in yet, it was just the soldiers and you could barter, you could
trade with jewelry.
Interviewer: The Jews weren’t being rounded up?
Aronovsky: Not yet, not that early time, not the first couple of weeks.
Interviewer: And businesses were not closed?
Aronovsky: Not then.
Aronovsky: We’re talking about the very first few weeks. It was chaotic but
the Gestapo had not yet come in. My mother’s parents, her father was ailing,
he had a heart condition, and my grandfather was in the German Army in World War
I. He was in Austria-Hungary.
Interviewer: Tell us your grandparents’ names.
Aronovsky: Reinstein, Jacob and Minna Reinstein.
Interviewer: Do you have any way of spelling that?
Aronovsky: R-E-I-N — I think I have it as my mother’s maiden name.
Interviewer: Okay but I want you to spell it …
Aronovsky: Reinstein. And he’d been in the German Army because when he was
of army age, it was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. My mother spoke German
as a child. And he, my grandfather, was a medic and he drove an ambulance during
World War I. I even have a photograph of him standing in front of the ambulance.
Interviewer: Where did they live during that time when your grandfather was
in the army?
Aronovsky: They lived in what became Romania but was at the time Chernovitz
which then became Romania and then was annexed by the Soviet Union. I think it’s
part of Russia now. It was Chernovitz.
Aronovsky: Chernouty I think it’s called in the Romanian and so when we
were ready to flee the second time, he said, “You know, they’re not going
to do anything to me. I was in the German Army. I can show you my medals. I can
show you my discharge papers. They’re not going to do anything to me or to my
wife. And we’re an older couple. The Germans aren’t going to touch older –
they’re a civilized country. They’re not going to do anything to the older
people.” My aunt, my mother’s sister, was unmarried at the time but she
can’t leave her parents. She’s going to stay with them and take care of
them. So they didn’t come with us. The other two couples also felt that they
were better off on their own than to attach themselves with us so it was just
the four of us, my father, my mother, my sister and I. I was 7, she was 12. We
decided to leave. We did not at the time have to wear a star. That was before
all the Jews had to register although I do recall that my grandmother’s
restaurant had a big picture window and they had painted a Star of David on her
picture window. So this is one of the very first things that they did is to
identify places of business to make sure that the population did not go to it.
Aronovsky: Although, incidentally, during the war we were able to find out
that since my grandmother who had come from German type of food, cooked German
type, German soldiers that would come into the restaurant by the back door in
order to eat her good German-style …
Interviewer: They weren’t going to pass that up?
Aronovsky: And they weren’t weren’t going to go out the front door in the
shop. So they came in the back door so at least the first few months, maybe the
first year of the occupation, the restaurant was still functioning and they were
still earning a little bit of money.
Interviewer: How were you able to know that information? How were you able to
communicate? You were on . . . . your family?
Aronovsky: We arrived in Portugal eventually. We were able to write to them a
year. Because letters would go through. And there were some survivors who told
us later on who knew my mother and who knew the family and told us about it.
Interviewer: So now you’re on the way to Portugal?
Aronovsky: Now we’re on our way.
Interviewer: How were you traveling?
Aronovsky: We were walking.
Interviewer: Again walking?
Aronovsky: Uh huh. The JDC, the Joint Distribution Committee was very active
during the war. They sent young people . . . . some of the other young people
they sent from, whether it was from Palestine or from the United States, to
Europe to help the refugees. And every time we came to a small village or to a
town, there was always a network. You could always stop to find out where the
Jewish community was. We would help people and how to get from one place to
another. So there was always money. We always were able to get some money to
either buy passage on a train to get us from point A to B. They were, the actual
monetary system of the country was totally abolished. You had to use German
scrip. So they at least gave us funds to purchase that scrip and we were able
sometimes to even go into a restaurant. What my parents did was brilliant and of
course, that’s what saved us. My father had light blonde hair. My sister and I
had fair hair. My mother however was coal black hair. And the stereotype to the
Germans of the Jew was someone with a big hooked nose and black hair so my
mother immediately dyed her hair blonde. And every time we’d stop at a small
village, she’d go to the apothecary store and buy some peroxide and take care
of her roots every night so she was always totally blonde. And we did not speak
a word of English the entire time we were in occupied Europe. We spoke only
Interviewer: But before that you did speak Yiddish at home?
Aronovsky: At home. Yeah we spoke Yiddish at home. My father had learned a
little bit of French so he didn’t speak too much because it would have given
him away. But my mother and my sister and I spoke French fluently so my mother
would go to a store and she would do the purchasing or we would talk to each
other. We never spoke a word of Yiddish ’cause the walls have ears.
Aronovsky: So and her being blonde, speaking only French, not looking very
Semitic, we were able not to be recognized and not to be picked up. There were
roundups I’m sure. Maybe later on, I don’t remember if there were or not but
we were never recognized although I do remember hearing soldiers walking down
the road with their boots on the cobblestones and my father pulling me into a
doorway or into a store . . …
Interviewer: . . . . the German soldiers?
Aronovsky: as the German soldiers were walking down the street, pulling us
into. Even though we were not recognizable, it’s better not, let’s get out
of sight if we can. And I think that this is what saved us, the fact that we
were not recognized, we were not pulled out, we did not have to show ID papers.
We had false papers wherever we went. The little diamonds had purchased . . . .
Artists during the war made a fortune because they were the ones that helped
make the false documents to get you from one place to the other. And I’m sure
that the little diamonds helped purchase paper that got us through from one area
Interviewer: So that was a good plan on your father’s part?
Aronovsky: A good one. Getting those diamonds in order to barter and my
mother dying her hair blonde. Had she remained dark, she would have stood out
because of the dark hair but being that she was very, very blonde, almost white,
we blended into the population.
Aronovsky: And I remember being in Paris in the winter. So it took us a few
months to get to Paris ’cause I remember the snow. We couldn’t get up the
Eiffel Tower. I said, “Ma, I want to go up.” The Germans wouldn’t
permit anybody to climb up the Eiffel Tower. We stayed in a very small, dingy
hotel for one night and I do recall going up these very slender stairs but we
had the funds somehow and they permitted us because they didn’t think of us as
being Jews. Whatever papers we had were obviously purchased somehow so that I
don’t know whether we were ever stopped to ask for our papers but if we were,
they looked legitimate. And we occasionally would get a train, we would get
passage on a train and drive a little bit from one town to the other until we
came to a town of Perpignan which is near the border of France into Spain on the
very lowest part of the Pyrenees. And in order to cross France into Spain, there’s
a mountain range on the Pyrenees and being that I was so young, my parents
preferred not to climb the mountain so we went down the southern part of the
Pyrenees which were hills, not mountains. And . . . . was just a few kilometers
from the Spanish border. And we get to Perpignan and we booked passage on a
train. And the train’s ready to leave to cross Spain into Portugal. We had
booked passage all the way into Portugal. We were finally going to get into
Portugal. We were sitting in the train and European trains of course have a
passage around the side and compartments. We were sitting in a compartment, the
four of us, and all of a sudden we hear boots walking up and down the side of
the corridor yelling, “Yuden, heraus,“
Interviewer: Jews out.
Aronovsky: “Jews get out,” and under her breath my mother said,
“They’re not going to pull us out. We’re not going to walk out
willingly. If they want us they’re going to have to come and pull us out. But
we’re not giving up and we’re not walking out of here.” We’re staying
put. And so we sat there and we looked out the window and I remember seeing
people getting off on the platform and I’m sure those poor unlucky souls never
made it. But we sat and now I believe that the German soldier or officer,
whoever it was, never thought that Jews would be so brazen. The arrogance of
this man thinking that he didn’t have to go back and check everybody. Just
say, “Yuden heraus.” and he’d intimidate them enough to get
out and leave and so he never came back for us. And the train started up…
Interviewer: Took a lot of strength on the part of your parents. (double
Aronovsky: It was intimidating. It was very frightening and of course you
immediately think, oh you know, put your hands up, that’s it, the end is here.
But we said, “No, no, no, we’re going to stay put. They’re going to
have to drag us out of here.” And the train started up and whatever was
said about Franco, the Dictator of Spain, who was part of the Axis and sided
with the Germans and what he had done those few years before in the Civil War,
all the evil that he had done, certainly he deserved it. What he did do though
is he permitted all of these trains to pass through his country into Portugal
knowing full well that they contained immigrants and Jews who were fleeing and
never, he could have stopped all these trains and he never did. And this is …
Interviewer: I wonder why? What was that about?
Aronovsky: Who knows, who knows? Maybe his heart was a little softened, I don’t
know. There were hardly any Jews in Spain for him to …
Interviewer: So he wasn’t concerned about that part of it?
Aronovsky: Right, right. It’s not as if had a choice or he had been told
by, just like the Greek king and some of the other countries to give up their
Jews. He didn’t, there were no Jews in Spain at the time. Maybe his heart got
. . . . It was never asked of him but he never stopped the trains and so we did
go, we did cross Spain, never stopped at all, and got to Lisbon. Once we got to
Lisbon, it was, by that time it was 1942, no it was 1941. So it took us almost a
year to get all the way to Lisbon. When we got to Lisbon of course the first
place we, which was a neutral city, the first place my father went to was the
American Consulate to find out where our numbers stood. Because he was Polish,
he had a Polish passport, his number was still way, way down.
Interviewer: A number to allow you to …
Aronovsky: To get passage, right, right. Because it was a very, very small
quota of Polish people permitted into the United States in 1940. This of course
has been cancelled since then but at the time, it was virtually impossible. Then
we found some other Jewish organizations that helped us and Portugal became,
especially Libson, such a hotbed of espionage. They wanted especially the Jews
to leave Lisbon because they were so afraid of, too many things were happening
in Lisbon at the time. So I forget whether it was the Joint, also the JDC or
maybe some other Jewish organization that got ahold of several hundred Jewish
families and sent us north to a summer resort. But this was in the winter and it
was open all year, in northern Portugal, for us to live there outside of Lisbon,
to leave. And of course my father didn’t work there at all. We had some money;
they did help us financially but my mother said being in Portugal was one of the
best experiences for her. She’d go to the marketplace and of course, not
knowing Portuguese, speaking with hand gestures and pointing and showing the
money saying, ” Take whatever you need.” She found out later not only
sometimes they did not take any money at all from her but they lowered their
prices. They were so generous. She always found and remembered the Portuguese
people as being very kind and very generous to the refugees.
Interviewer: What a lucky path you followed.
Aronovsky: Yes. It was very nice.
Interviewer: So how long were you …
Aronovsky: We were there almost a year in Portugal. I might have gone to
school. I don’t remember. I learned Portuguese. Children learn languages very
quickly. So I spoke Portuguese.
Interviewer: And your parents picked up on that?
Aronovsky: A little bit.
Interviewer: Enough to get by?
Aronovsky: Enough to get by to go to the market and to go to the store. Of
course, my parents’ intent was always to come to the United States. So from
where we lived, it was called Caldas de Reihna It might have been the Joint
suggested that we book passage to go to several countries in the Caribbean so
that we would at least leave the continent which is what my father wanted. We
could have gone to Jamaica. We could have gone to Cuba. We could have gone to
the Dominican Republic. We could have gone to the Azores. There were several
countries we could have gone to that opened up their doors to the refugees
because they felt here were middle class people who would be bringing in their
expertise and maybe help the economy of those small countries.
Interviewer: So they were hoping you would establish there, that families
would establish there?
Aronovsky: I believe so. I believe that that’s what they wanted. For some
reason because it was British, at the time Jamaica seemed to interest my father
and we said we will book passage to Jamaica. So after about a year in Portugal,
this was 1942, we left Portugal on a ship to Jamaica. It took us about two weeks
because the Nazis had mined the northern Atlantic and so in order to dodge all
the mines, it took, a four-day-trip ended up being two weeks, slowing down and
moving about the north Atlantic but we finally got …
Interviewer: Was that a big ship?
Aronovsky: It was a good-sized ship. I’ve been meaning, and I keep
forgetting to go on the Internet to find out if it’s still sailing, although I
don’t know, it’s been so many years.
Interviewer: What was the ship?
Aronovsky: Serpa Pinto. And very interestingly …
Interviewer: Is there any way to spell that. Somebody’s going to be
Aronovsky: S-E-R-P-A, Serpa and Pinto, P-I-N-T-O. I don’t know in
Portuguese what it means, I don’t remember. But interestingly after two weeks
that we were on our way, an elderly man fell down the stairs and died and we
were too far from shore to keep him, to bury him on shore, so they buried him at
sea. And I recall that. I recall standing there and seeing them drop the casket
into the water, very emotional, very poignant. And a baby was born.
Interviewer: What memories for such a young mind.
Aronovsky: Right, right.
Interviewer: And you weren’t the only one of course.
Aronovsky: And I remember those two incidents.
Aronovsky: And a little baby was born and I was told she would be a
Portuguese citizen ’cause she was born on a Portuguese ship. And they named
her Serpa Pinta.
Interviewer: Oh, after the ship?
Aronovsky: After the ship. They named her, so it was probably Serpa Pinta
Interviewer: Were most of the people on board Jewish?
Aronovsky: Yes they were. As a matter of fact, and I’d forgotten about
that, a U-boat stopped us plus which is against international maritime law but
what did they care. And they boarded the ship and they came on board and they
wanted to see our papers. And obviously, our papers were legitimate-looking and
Interviewer: Where was the U-boat, what country …
Aronovsky: Germany, a Nazi U-boat. And our papers passed muster but several
young men were taken off and it just, my father was heartbroken that you know,
here they were so close to freedom and to be taken ashore. So that did happen
during the two weeks that we were on the water. We finally came to Jamaica and
interest- ingly enough also there were about 200 families who had Polish
passports and they took us off the ship and and they said, “Into
Kingston.” And they said, “This was so sudden that they didn’t have
enough places to put us.” They said, “We will temporarily take you to
what was barracks, army barracks of World War I and we’ll leave you there just
for a few days until we can find enough apartments, hotel rooms, whatever. So
because it was a big influx of people, we weren’t quite ready for you.”
This is what the Jamaican commander or president, whatever. And I recall the
buses taking us to these barracks in Jamaica which were just single barracks
with cots and the men slept in one barrack and the women and the young children
in another. They said, “Oh in just a short time we will have you living in
Kingston, living in Paradise.” Well it didn’t quite work out this way.
Somehow or other they never intended us to live in Kingston. What they did is
they kept us in that army fort encircled with barbed wire for the entire time
that we were in Jamaica. There were about 200 families, maybe 4-or 5 hundred
Interviewer: So you were actually imprisoned?
Aronovsky: We were imprisoned simply because they felt that and to the logic,
because we were Poles and because the Nazis had taken over Poland, it was now
enemy territory and we were the enemy because we were holding Polish passports.
This was the Jamaican logic. So they kept …
Interviewer: So you were misled, really?
Aronovsky: Absolutely. Had we gone to Cuba, to Havana, other friends from
Portugal had gone to Cuba, lived in Havana and worked and were fine. But Jamaica
for some reason deliberately gave us the wrong information. But they did
partition the barracks into rooms so that families could now live together. They
made it a little easier. We were given a number. We could go into Kingston for
the day. We couldn’t stay overnight. If we wanted to stay overnight, we had to
request permission from the commander. The children were sent to school in
Kingston. I recall the two years we were there I went, we had a choice of going
to a British school or an American school run by nuns, convent. And again my
father chose the British school. He had some kinship with the British. We went
to a British convent, my sister and I. We were picked up, horse-drawn carts
every morning. That’s where I learned English. They took us, we spent the day
there, came home in the evening. There was one nun who I suppose knew a little
bit more about the Hebrew Bible than the others so when the rest of the school
had their catechism, their religious instruction, she met us, the Jewish
children, and we spoke about what they called the Old Testament, the Jewish
Interviewer: So they didn’t try to indoctrinate you?
Aronovsky: Not in the least. They were very, very kind to us. And as an
aside, here in Columbus I worked as a librarian for 21 years in a Catholic
school and I found maybe it was Pope John the 23rd, maybe it was Vatican II, who
knows, but they always were very, very kind to me and certainly never
indoctrinated me. Shared with me what I knew so I’ve always had very good
associations with Catholics.
Interviewer: Great. So that worked out so …
Aronovsky: So we ended up in Jamaica for two years. In the meantime every
time we got to Kingston my father always checked with the American, I don’t
know if there was no embassy but the Consul and our number got closer and
closer. Of course there were fewer and fewer Polish Jews left to fill in the
Interviewer: What were your parents doing during the time?
Interviewer: They weren’t able to work or what?
Aronovsky: However my father was not one to sit on his haunches so Jamaica
had a very nice community of Syrian Jews who were mostly in the fabric business,
the shmate business. And very well-to-do, very kind, opened up their
doors to us on some of the holidays where children received gifts. On Purim and
on Hanukkah they would open up their homes. They would invite all the children
to play on their lawn. They would give us gifts.
Interviewer: So these were established families who were living there?
Aronovsky: Established, who were living in Jamaica for several generations,
Syrian Sephardic Jews, so very, very Jewish, very observant, and very nice and
were just delighted to have these strange Jews coming in their midst. They’d
never seen Ashkenazi Polish Jews.
Interviewer: What about your Jewish . . . . Well we’re almost at the end of
Side A so I’m going to stop a minute and turn this over and we’ll continue.
Okay, to continue on Side B of Tape 1. Okay, we’re in Jamaica.
Aronovsky: We’re in Jamaica and of course in our group there were all sorts
of occupations, all sorts of characters and that’s where I first learned
Hebrew. There was an elderly man, whether he was a rabbi or very observant I don’t
know but he had a beard and he had brought his Siddur with him. And he
took the little boys and sat them next to him and was teaching them the Aleph
Bet. And I was interested. I think I was the only girl and he put me in
front of him. I mean, I was not privileged to sit next to him and look at the
letters and so I learned my Aleph Bet upside down. Even today I read Aleph
Bet quicker …
Interviewer: I think you’re the first one I’ve met that reads upside down
Aronovsky: I can read it upside down faster ’cause that’s how I learned
and he made it fun. And we learned the Sh’ma and we learned the V’ahavta
and he made it, even though he wasn’t what I would call an old-fashioned malamed,
an old-fashioned teacher, he knew that he had to make it somehow different
because we were not in that environment any more and he made it so that
everybody really enjoyed it. In Jamaica there was a woman who’d been a dancer,
a Polish dancer. And somehow we must have gotten a radio or maybe a piano but
she played. And she played Chopin’s Polonaise and we danced. There were
seamstresses who made us these beautiful Polish outfits and we had a community.
The two years we were there I learned Hebrew, we had music, we had art, there
were book reviews, just as in the camps. People did not vegetate. They did not
give up hope. Thank God we knew that we would not be annihilated. We would not
be shot. But in the meantime, the men were not permitted to work. Our money was
frozen and what do you do all day? You do whatever your expertise is. So my
father’s expertise was jewelry. So he would go into Kingston, met all these
really very well-to-do Syrian families who, if they had jewelry that needed
repair or if they wanted to buy jewelry, had no place because it was wartime.
They couldn’t send it to Paris. They couldn’t send it to the United States.
It was very difficult. So my father found work. He had brought his tools. . . .
. tools are just small, little tools. He could put them in a little bag. And so
wherever he was, he could use his tools in order to repair jewelry. He learned
how to repair watches. I remember when we finally lived in New York, he would
take a watch apart that wasn’t working, put it together again and it worked.
But there were some parts left over.
Interviewer: But he made it work?
Aronovsky: He made it work.
Interviewer: Another shot of luck then. And in Jamaica …
Aronovsky: He had golden hands. So were able to at least, during the day, we
were able to go into Kingston, meet with some — my sister and I went to school.
That’s where we learned English and so the days went by very quickly. For us
it was fine.
Interviewer: Did your sister learn Hebrew as well?
Aronovsky: No, she wasn’t interested. I don’t think she ever learned to
read Hebrew. She never went to Hebrew School.
Interviewer: So it was your curiosity?
Aronovsky: Yes, I was always interested. I was always curious and that’s
where I learned it. My sister graduated then. She finished high school. Some of
our friends from Portugal who had gone to Cuba, we corresponded with them. And
they were able to get us a booked passage to go into Cuba after two years in
Jamaica. So I remember flying a small, little hydroplane because Jamaica to Cuba
is just a, you can almost swim it. So we hopped into that small, little airplane
and ended up in the eastern edge of Cuba and then flew to Havana and arrived in
Havana feeling that again we’d been very fortunate. Batista had been ruling
Cuba for many, many years and many years later but while we were there, the few
years during the war …
Interviewer: Now wait a minute. This trip to Cuba, was this to live or to
Aronovsky: To live.
Interviewer: Not to visit?
Aronovsky: No. We had sent to us, what do you call it, legitimate papers,
whatever it was, that permitted us now to come into Havana, into Cuba. So we
came to Havana and during the war years, the Cubans for some reason had voted
democratically and had elected a President, President Grau. And he permitted a
lot of the European Jews, especially the Jews from Belgium …
Interviewer: What was the President’s name again?
Aronovsky: I think it was Grau, G-R-A-U. Grau San Martin. And I think he died
just recently. He made sure to permit a lot of Belgian jewelers to come into
Cuba because during the war years, Havana became the hub of jewelry making
because Israel was not established at the time, Antwerp was closed, so that the
hub of the diamond trade and the diamond industry was in Havana. Batista might
never have permitted it but this democratically-elected president was more than
willing to accept all these refugees into Havana. So when we came to Havana, my
father immediately was able to work. All he needed was a little table in our
apartment and with his small tools and after living in cramped quarters in
Jamaica and having to request if you wanted to stay overnight and being
surrounded by barbed wire, you know you heaved a sigh of relief — we were
finally free. We were out of Europe. We knew what was going on. We had left
Europe. We had left Jamaica and we finally could breathe a sign of relief. We
were in total freedom.
Interviewer: Of all the occupations that your father could have been in, that
probably is the most …
Aronovsky: Lucrative. The one that seemed to help us.
Interviewer: And it wasn’t in terms of equipment and needing to establish
Interviewer: He had what he needed right with him.
Aronovsky: And his reputation had followed him. I remember my father having
huge pins with maybe thousands of dollars worth of diamonds, loose diamonds,
that he would set into the mounting. And he had golden hands. He was able to put
these diamonds, whether they were little, tiny chips or big diamonds, and they
never fell out and you couldn’t tell, there was never a scratch. And so he got
a lot of work. They knew of his reputation and my sister had graduated high
school in Jamaica so she didn’t go to school but my mother always knew that we
would ultimately end up in America. So she sought out a school in Cuba, an
American-run school where, if we were to go to the United States within the four
years of high school, all my credits would be transferred. I wouldn’t lose
any. And we found a school that I went to. I learned Spanish, forgot my
Portuguese. But it was run in English although because the credits would be
transferred to New York credits and we lived there for two years and I had a
wonderful experience. I became much more observant than my parents and I was shomer
Shabbos even though my parents weren’t. And I used to look over my mother’s
shoulder when she cooked making sure that everything was legitimate. I belonged
to a very Orthodox Zionist organization that met Shabbat afternoon and I
used to walk there. We lived in town, we lived in Havana, and the meeting place
was in one of the outskirts, the suburbs and I walked for maybe an hour. But you
know when you’re 13, 14 …
Interviewer: It doesn’t matter.
Aronovsky: It doesn’t matter but …
Interviewer: Your parents didn’t resent your …
Aronovsky: Not at all. Maybe some day I’ll tell you the story, my father’s
story is even more interesting than mine. He was a very ardent Zionist so he was
very happy that I belonged whether it was observant or not. At least I was an
ardent Zionist fighting for the State of Israel. And we were there for two years
until the end of the two years when my father finally went to the American
Embassy or Consul and found out that our number had finally come ’cause there
were so few left, so few Poles left by 1946.
Interviewer: You were on a lot of two-year plans, weren’t you, from one
stop to another?
Aronovsky: Right. One year in Portugal, two years in Jamaica, two years in
Cuba. Finally our number came up and in 1946, it took us 8 years because in 1938
my father had applied for a visa. So it took 8 years from 1938 to 1946, we
finally came to the United States.
Inverviewer: And landed where?
Aronovsky: We landed in Miami. We came from Havana. We flew to Miami and took
a train up to New York because most of my family resided; New York at the time
was also the hub of the diamond trade and so we lived in New York City, in
Interviewer: Did you have family in New York?
Aronovsky: We had family in New York, yes.
Interviewer: The family that you left in Belgium?
Aronovsky: Let me tell you. My parents wrote to the, after the war was over,
wrote to the International Red Cross, gave them and the information we had, and
we found out some very tragic fates that ended their lives. My grandfather and I
must say fortunately died, he died in bed. He had a very strong, very powerful,
heart attack. My parents had their restaurant and I recall one scene. My
grandfather who had been in the German army had met someone in Belgium who’d
also been in the opposing army in Belgium. But they became fast friends. He was
not Jewish. They used to play chess together. So this man would come in with
spats on his shoes, you know those white …
Aronovsky: This was, we’re talking about the 1930s and the two of them
would sit in the back and would play chess. When my grandfather had this heart
attack, this man told my grandfather to change his name. Reinstein was a German
name, not necessarily Jewish and his name was Yakov, Jacob, and I forget
what this friend told him to change his first name, took him to a Gentile
hospital because obviously the care was a little better than whatever Jewish
hospitals were left in Brussels. And he stayed in that hospital and he died and
he was interred in a Gentile cemetery using the fake first name. My grandmother
and my aunt were rounded up after about a year even though she did use the
restaurant and they did cook for the German soldiers who came in the back door,
they were rounded up and sent on the transports to Auschwitz and we have the
date and the number of the transport of when they went. We were told …
Interviewer: So but your mother was able to track that far?
Aronovsky: We were told by eye witnesses my grandmother was made to go on one
side and my aunt was sent on the other. She was a young woman.
Interviewer: She still was not, she was single? Your aunt was still …
Aronovsky: And she was told to go on the other side when they got off the
platform. And she could have been saved, she could have remained alive and
worked but she said, “No, I can’t leave.”
Interviewer: She wanted to stay with her mother?
Aronovsky: So my father’s sister and her husband who wanted to make the X
amount of dollars, he did make that much money. And the belt, he was born in
Belgium so he knew a lot of Belgians, had a lot of friends and one time the
Belgian police caught him and they called my aunt up and they said, “We’ve
got your husband but you can ransom him. If you bring us X amount of
dollars,” they knew she had the money. “If you bring us X amount of
dollars you can ransom him. So why don’t you go to the bank and get the
money?” They had a one-year old girl that she left with her next-door
neighbor. She said, “I’m going to the bank. I’m going to get the money
out of the bank. I’m going to ransom my husband. I’ll be back in a couple of
hours.” Well again, that was a ruse by the Belgian police. They not only
took her money but they shipped her out. And we have also a, well I don’t know
whether we know about her or her transport, but she ended up in Auschwitz.
Interviewer: And the child?
Aronovsky: All this time, the child is with the next-door neighbors. She
doesn’t come home that afternoon, doesn’t come home the next day. This was
an older couple and they had no way of taking care of a one-year old child and
they realized that she wasn’t coming back. They figured this wasn’t going to
happen. So they took her to a convent where these nuns were hiding or putting
false papers on these Jewish children, these Jewish babies. And she ended up
during the war in this convent being told that she was Catholic. She was
baptized. A Catholic orphan – she had no parents. The father in the meantime,
who was picked up and put on a train, jumped off the train. He was a very, very
athletic, a very strong man. Jumped off the train and because he had so many
friends, they saved him and they hid him during the war.
Interviewer: What were the names of your aunt and uncle and your cousin?
Aronovsky: The last name was Gruft, G-R-U-F-T and he’s still alive. He’s
probably in his 90s now. They still live …
Interviewer: What’s his name?
Aronovsky: His name is Leon. My aunt’s name was Miriam and the little girl’s
name is Ruth. She’s my age, you know, a little younger than I. But …
Interviewer: Where does your uncle live?
Aronovsky: He stayed in Belgium. And Ruth, after the war when he came back to
his neighbor and the neighbor told him where they had deposited the child, he
went to the orphanage, to the convent and he said, “I’d like my child
back,” and they said, “No, she’s ours. She’s Catholic, she’s
been baptized. I can’t give her back to you.” And there were many, many
instances of families who survived who came to reclaim their children and they
had difficult times getting those children back. Most of them did and there have
been several books even written about this. Most of them did get their children
back. There were many Christian people who were born Jewish but never knew that.
Ruth however did go back to her father, to Leon. But she was 6 years old at the
time. There she was a Christian orphan and one morning she wakes up now she’s
not Christian, she’s Jewish. She’s not an orphan. She has a father. It just
completely traumatized her.
Interviewer: In one day, her whole life …
Aronovsky: And I don’t think she took it very well because she’s been
married and divorced several times, she does a lot of traveling. My sister’s
in contact with Leon, with our uncle, and he doesn’t get along with his
daughter too well.
Interviewer: Was he able to take care of her though during those young years?
Aronovsky: Yes he did but I think she resented him. She might have had, she
felt, a better life without him. Who knows?
Interviewer: Did he remarry?
Aronovsky: No. No he did not remarry. One of my children is named after
Interviewer: Uh huh. Okay, so now we’re going to hop back over to New York
and how did the life continue there?
Aronovsky: Well I was in my first year of high school and fortunately because
of my mother’s foresight, all of my credits were transferred and I went to
high school. We got there May 1.
Interviewer: How did they establish a home in a place? How did all that
Aronovsky: We had relatives there who had gotten us a hotel. So we were in a,
this was 1946. Apartments were impossible to get in New York. All the GIs were
coming back and it was very difficult to get an apartment so we were in a hotel
for maybe 6 months. Very expensive living in a hotel for 6 months and eating
out. We had a little kitchenette I remember but it’s expensive. My mother used
to walk up and down the streets on both Riverside Drive and Central Park to see
homes being built and carry cash with her in her pocket, trying to talk to the
super saying, “Hey I will give you under-the-table money. Save us one of
the apartments.” ‘Till finally she was able to find one. It was a
building just being built, brand new building. Six stories in Central Park.
Beautiful part of town, gave her key money, under-the-table money and we got out
of the hotel and into the apartment. Meantime my father was able to immediately
find work because everybody remembered my father and his reputation. Not only
from Antwerp and Brussels but also from Havana. So he started working right
away. I went to school. And my sister had met some relatives living in Montreal
and when we were in Havana we sent our uncle a picture of the four of us and
this relative happened to know a family with a young man. Showed him the
picture. The young man started corresponding with my sister and the first week
we were in New York, still living in the hotel, Hymie flew up to see my sister.
‘Cause they’d been corresponding for a year, year and a half, and by the
time he left, they were betrothed. And so she married him right away and she
moved to Montreal so I had a very nice existence in New York. Went to high
school there and then to Brooklyn College.
Interviewer: Your sister, did she remain in Montreal?
Aronovsky: She remained in Montreal until they semi-retired about 15 years
ago, living now in Florida.
Interviewer: Do they have children?
Aronovsky: They have children and grandchildren.
Interviewer: Tell us about those children.
Aronovsky: My sister’s children?
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Aronovsky: Okay. She had a daughter, Marilyn who lives, very happily married,
with children and grandchildren, living in Toronto. Because in the mid-70s when
they lived in Montreal, there was talk of separatism, secession for Quebec and
so her daughter and her son were not happy. My sister had already moved to
Florida but two of her children were living in Montreal and they were Anglo,
they didn’t really speak French. They spoke English. And there was too much
talk of secession so they moved to Toronto. They were living in Toronto. Her
daughter with the grandchildren lived in Toronto. Her son with his two daughters
and grand- daughters lived in Toronto. And my sister has one child living near
her in West Palm Beach.
Interviewer: That child’s name in Palm Beach?
Aronovsky: Palm Beach is Rhonda. She just got married, remarried. I forget
her name. My sister’s is Mendelson.
Interviewer: Did we get her, yeah we got her first name.
Aronovsky: My sister’s? Lizzie.
Interviewer: Oh okay. What did Hymie do for a living?
Aronovsky: Hymie was also in the jewelry business because my cousin in
Montreal also, our family was in the jewelry business and went to deal with
Hymie’s family who had a jewelry store.
Interviewer: Well it worked well. Okay so you graduated from high school in
Aronovsky: I graduated from high school and went to Brooklyn College for a
couple of years. When we had first come in 1946, when we had first come to the
United States, we had relatives living in Peoria, Illinois, and they have a
daughter about my age. I was about 14-15 at the time. And for that first new
year, they invited me to come and stay with them, be with my cousin Evelyn who
is about a year older than I. So took a train from New York and they picked me
up in Chicago and drove me to Peoria and had a wonderful time with my cousin.
You know, having just come from Cuba this was a highly different culture and
different environment. Small town but everything was really wonderful and my
cousin had an older brother and my cousin Evelyn had a crush on one of his
friends. So New Years Eve we were invited to a party with our age group. But she
said, “You know what? Before we go to our party, let’s go to my brother’s
New Years Eve party because this boy is going to be there that I want to see.
And then we will go over to our party.” And I said, “Fine”. I had
no real choice so I went with her. Of course I was 14; these are all college
students, 19-20 years old and I didn’t know anyone. So I’m sitting on a
couch, this was in a private home, next to a couple who were playing chess. I
had no knowledge of chess at all but I pretended that I’m watching, watching.
Suddenly this nice young man comes and sits down next to me, starts talking to
me and he was very, very pleasant and I was happy to at least have somebody to
talk to. And fine, he wanted to know where I was staying and he knew my cousin
Evelyn and her brother and then we went to my party and I forgot about it and
the next day he called, asked me to go for a ride and I saw him the few days
that I was in Peoria. Took my address from New York. I went back to New York and
we started corresponding.
Interviewer: Now you’re 14 years old and he’s 19? That’s a world of
Aronovsky: Right. He was in college but we were corresponding. It was very
innocent and we wrote for several years. In the meantime he graduated college.
He went into the Air Force, to the military, and we’re still corresponding and
he said his first furlough that he got, he had an aunt and uncle living in New
York. He said, “I want to go and visit my aunt and uncle but they live way
out in Greenwich Village. Maybe you can book me a hotel room not far from you
since I know you and we can spend time together.” I said, “Fine”.
In the meantime, that weekend, this was, I forget, that weekend I had invited my
cousin Evelyn from Peoria to come and visit me. And we were dating, had double
dates, and he was supposed to come in on a certain day but he came in the day
before and he comes over to my house that evening that I had a double date with
Interviewer: Do you have this person’s name? We don’t have this in the
Aronovsky: You’ll find it …
Interviewer: Okay, okay. We’re building up to it.
Aronovsky: And I said, “It’s very nice that you’re here but I can’t
spend time with you ’cause you’re a day early . . . .”
Interviewer: You were already booked.
Aronovsky: and I already had a date with my cousin Evelyn. So he said,
“That’s fine. I’ll just spend time with your father, with your parents.
Which was okay. So I go out with Evelyn and I come back that evening. The next
morning, my father tells me, “You know, this young man . . . .” We don’t
drink but there was always liquor in the cabinet for company. And my father
takes out a bottle of whiskey, whatever. He said, “By the time your friend
left, the bottle was empty.” I said, “Oh it was because he was nervous
and it means nothing.” Anyway we kept on corre- sponding and corresponding
and I ultimately married him.
Aronovsky: My husband Alvin Aronovsky and …
Interviewer: So he was in the military?
Aronovsky: He was in the military and you know, that uniform is very, very
attractive I must say. And I think to myself, “What was it that attracted
me to him?” He was much older, six years older than I. I met him when I was
14. We corresponded. I thought I knew him. Then I realized that he liked the
bottle. He liked to drink. He enjoyed going to bars which was so foreign to me.
After a date, we’d go have a pizza and an ice cream. With him after a date,
after a movie, we’d go to a bar and you’d spend time. And it was terribly
foreign to me. But it was different. It was attractive. So I ultimately married
him and we . . . . He had …
Interviewer: Let me just stop you a minute. Did you go on to college or …
Aronovsky: I was at Brooklyn College for two years and then …
Interviewer: How old were you then when you got married?
Aronovsky: I was 19. I was real young. I graduated high school; I had just
turned 16. I don’t know how or where or when but I was, my birth is in April
and I turned 16 in April and graduated in June and went on, had 2 years of
college and then when we decided to get married, I was 18. I said, “You
know what? I’m going to go to work and earn money so that when we start our
married life together, we’ll have some money.” And it worked out fine.
Interviewer: How did your parents feel about the marriage?
Aronovsky: My mother, they weren’t very happy about it. But my mother told
me this, she told my sister this years later. Her younger sister was never
married because at one point after my mother and father were married, my aunt
wanted to marry a young man that her parents would not permit her to marry. And
therefore she never got married. And my mother was very afraid that if she did
not permit me to marry Alvin, same thing would happen to me. You’re talking
about an 18-year-old child and I was dating all kinds of young men. But in her
mind my mother was so afraid that she would traumatize me so much that I’d
never marry anyone.
Interviewer: But it wasn’t unusual at that time of life to get married at
Aronovsky: No not at all.
Interviewer: I mean now, kids are 25 or 35 and they’re still not married.
Aronovsky: Exactly. Exactly. But I went from my father’s house to my
husband’s house. I was never really on my own which, and at the time, that was
fine because all my friends did that same routine. If you went through college,
you were 18 and then you were 20 and then you married and you …
Interviewer: Became a housewife?
Aronovsky: Set up a home. Right. Became a housewife. But …
Interviewer: Where did you live then at that …
Aronovsky: We moved to Louisiana. There was an air base in Louisiana. We were
there 6 years and three of my children were born there.
Interviewer: Uh huh. Tell us about your children.
Aronovsky: My oldest just turned 50. His name is Jim, James, Yaakov.
He’s named after my grandfather Jacob. And he did not get married until about
three years ago. He just never, I think possibly his father’s role model did
not appeal to him and he was afraid possibly that making an attachment, I don’t
know. But he finally met a wonderful young woman, a nice Jewish woman from South
Africa, speaks with a darling accent, who had a family of her own. A married
child, daughter, who just had a baby now so my son is a step-grandfather.
Interviewer: Oh instant family?
Aronovsky: Instant family, right.
Interviewer: What does he do?
Aronovsky: He’s a photographer, professional photographer. Lives in San
Diego. Whenever I call him, he says, “Oh another day in Paradise.” San
Diego’s just …
Interviewer: Yeah it is.
Aronovsky: I visit there very frequently.
Interviewer: Perfect climate.
Aronovsky: It’s just wonderful. And he was in the navy for a couple of
years and stationed in San Diego so he remembered it and decided to remain when
he got out of the navy. Then I have a daughter Linda who lives in Austin, Texas.
She’s a year younger, 49, and she went to O.U., Ohio University. Stayed there
after she got her master’s and lived, worked for a couple of years with the
rape crisis center, was very active. And then she just decided to leave and with
a friend of hers, just decided to go to Austin ’cause it sounded nice and her
friend was going to Austin and got herself a job there and has been there living
20 years. Married a nice young man. They have a little girl.
Interviewer: What’s her husband’s name?
Aronovsky: His name is Cox, Mike Cox. He’s not Jewish but they’re
bringing up the little girl completely Jewish. They belong to a synagogue. He’s
very happy being with, even though he has not converted to Judaism, he does go
with Linda, with my daughter to services, so that makes me feel good. That makes
me happy. My next one is Sam. He’s named after my late father-in-law. Sam is
in San Jose. He …
Interviewer: That’s not a bad place to visit either.
Aronovsky: No that’s another place, right. He went to DeVry University here
and started off in computers and has a wonderful job. I’m not sure exactly
what he does. He’s not in computers any more but he’s got a wonderful job.
Makes tons of money and he was married for many years to a Korean woman here in
Columbus. They have 2 children. And he divorced her.
Interviewer: What is her name?
Aronovsky: Her name is Betty. Betty Aronovsky. They have 2 children who live
here and she came back. They divorced in San Jose and she came back to Columbus
because she has relatives here. So at least I have my grandchildren here. He
remained in San Jose and remarried a nice young woman, Kim. She also has married
children and grandchildren. So my son has instant grandchildren as well. She’s
not Jewish either.
Interviewer: What are your grandchildren’s names who live here?
Aronovsky: Danielle Aronovsky and Joshua Aronovsky.
Interviewer: So they’re in Columbus?
Aronovsky: They’re in Columbus. Right, right. They’re adults, 22 and 24.
Then I have Sara. Sara lives here in Columbus. She’s the only one who lives
here. She married Steve Livingston who, as a matter of fact, went to the high
school where I worked. The last year that he was there was my first year and I
remember him vaguely. He’s a nice Catholic boy, very, very nice young man.
They have two children and they’re also being brought up Jewish. Belong to a
synagogue. Their names are Rachel and Becca, Rebecca.
Interviewer: How old are they now?
Aronovsky: 15 and 17.
Interviewer: Oh goodness.
Interviewer: I bowled with Sara a number of years ago …
Aronovsky: That’s right.
Interviewer: and they were tiny little tots when I remembered them.
Aronovsky: You should see how beautiful they are now.
Interviewer: Sara was a wonderful, I could see she was going to be a great
Aronovsky: She’s a wonderful mother. I have to bite my tongue because of
course I’m a mother, I see things that I would have done differently with my
children but I dare not say anything and it turns out that she’s right. The
kids are wonderful. The 17-year-old works. She’s in her junior year at Bexley
High. She’s got an after- noon job. Becca is just wonderful. Whenever I need
anything, they’re always coming over. I’m independent. Even though I walk
with a cane, I can do things around the house but I can’t reach, I can’t
bend down too much. I don’t like walking in grass to go to take my garbage
out. And Sara and Becca come over a couple of times a week to help me out. So
they’re really my …
Interviewer: Where do you live?
Aronovsky: I live in Water’s Edge in Berwick and she lives in Bexley so 5
minutes from me. And Steve is a tinkerer and he loves to do things with his
hands and every time I need something repaired, if I don’t want to call
maintenance, Steve comes over and does it for me. And I think of all my
children, Sara is the one that I appreciate having here. And my youngest is
Miriam. She’s 39.
Interviewer: So you have 5 children?
Aronovsky: I have 5. Miriam went all the way through Tifereth Israel. She’s
my very observant daughter. She went to Camp Ramah and again, she came back and
started looking over my shoulder at my pots which is what I had done to my
mother and …
Interviewer: Is she married?
Aronovsky: She is married. She went to Ohio State, got a degree in Jewish
Studies and was teaching at Hebrew school and for a while here was the
Educational Director at Beth Shalom, the Reform synagogue in New Albany. She
moved to Israel. She was going to make aliyah in Israel. Met a nice young
man from Canada who also was going to make aliyah and they met there and
they got married. They came back here, got married at Tifereth and moved back to
Israel and then she got pregnant and they decided they were too far away from
their families, he’s from Hamilton, Ontario, and she from Columbus so they
decided to come back to the States and they came back to Columbus. They got a
job here. She got the job with Beth Shalom, and Aryeh was not able to really
find a niche in this city. He got a lot of part-time jobs. He just never was
able to fulfill himself. He was also very observant. He worked for Beth Jacob.
Things just didn’t fall his way. When he got a job at Beth Jacob, within a
year it was taken over by someone else and it just didn’t work out fine and so
they decided to move, he got himself a very nice job in London, Ontario, as
Hillel director for a small college there. So they moved there and one child was
born in Israel. One child was born here.
Interviewer: That Israel child, what was that child’s name?
Aronovsky: Her name’s Pnina.
Interviewer: And how old is she now?
Aronovsky: She’s 11 because in two years she’ll be bat mitzvahed.
Eleven. And one child was born here whose name is Shai, Hebrew name. And
then when they went to London their little one, Shoshan was born. So they’ve
got an Israeli, an American and a Canadian. All very interesting.
Interviewer: How old are the younger children?
Aronovsky: Shy is 9, two years younger. And Shoshan just turned 5. And they
lived in London for a couple of years and then he decided after all these years
he wants to go to rabbinic school. So they moved to L.A. and he goes to the
University of Judaism. He’s in his third year in rabbinic school. She got
herself a wonderful job as education director for a big synagogue. So thank God
she’s able to help them survive because he’s not working.
Interviewer: Keep the family going.
Interviewer: To keep their family going?
Aronovsky: And being that he is Canadian, he can’t work. He doesn’t have
a green card. So he does some tutoring and he does a few things but, thank God,
so he’s in his third year. He’s got two more years. And he’ll be a rabbi
Interviewer: That’s interesting . . . . isn’t it?
Aronovsky: I’m just delighted. After all they’ve gone through. But thank
God all of my grandchildren are Jewish which makes me happy.
Interviewer: Are you still married?
Aronovsky: No I’m not. We lived in Louisiana for 6 years. Then came to
Columbus. We’re here for 6 years and then moved around 2 years each in
Michigan and elsewhere and then he went overseas to Viet Nam in ’66 and I went
to Canada. Decided to stay up there with my mother. She was living with my
sister in Montreal. When he came back from Viet Nam, he was transferred to
Germany, to Europe which was very difficult for me to go back. I felt Germany
was covered with blood. I was . . . . I went and talked to my rabbi. I said,
“What shall I do? My husband’s being transferred to Germany. I find it
very difficult to even think of it.” He said, “Well according to Halacha,
according to Jewish law, a wife goes with her husband and you have a choice. You
can either go with your husband or not go with your husband. But I’m saying
your duty is to your husband.” So I thought, “Well, I’ll go and I’ll
stay within the American community confines. Try to stay away from the Germans
as much as I can.” Got on the airplane, we flew. We landed in Frankfurt. I
couldn’t get off the plane. I was tied to the seat. I couldn’t get off the
plane to get on to the tarmac. Well I finally did, I got off and stayed. We were
stationed in Wiesbaden. American housing. American shopping but you still had to
go into the city. You can’t just stay there forever. But every time I’d see
a man in his 40s or 50s, this was 1970, 20 years after the war, 25 years after
the war. I’d see a man in his 50s, 60s, think to myself, “Where were you?
Did you have a gun in your hand? What were you doing 25-30 years ago?” I
tried not to go into town too much. But being in Germany in the middle of
Europe, I did a lot of traveling. Went to Israel, went to Holland, went to
several. So that was nice, with tours. From there, we were there a year and a
half. In the meantime my older son Jim was bar mitzvah in Dayton and he
was already in college.
Interviewer: Dayton, Ohio?
Aronovsky: Dayton, Ohio. We were stationed there a year. In the meantime when
we were in Germany, Sam was 12 and he was going to become bar mitzvah at
the end of our stay there. And during the time that we were in Germany I saw
there was one bar mitzvah and they used a very small, little Torah, the
Torah that you study from and it wasn’t even parchment, it was a written
Torah. And I thought to myself, “That’s not what I want.”
Interviewer: It’s not real?
Aronovsky: “It’s not real. We’re here in Germany and I’m going to
show you.” And so while we were there, there were a number of other Jewish
personnel. My husand was a high-ranking officer but there were many other women.
We formed a sisterhood and I said, “Let’s start collecting money to see
if we can buy a Torah.” So how do you fund-raise when you’re in Germany?
We sat in front the commissary and we all baked cakes and we …
Interviewer: You were all in the service?
Aronovsky: We were all in the service. There was a rabbi, there was a
chaplain, a Jewish chaplain and he said, “I’ve got to help you
ladies.” I told him my story and he said, “I’m going to help you
ladies.” I was helping him teach some of the children and he said,
“You know, there are so many Torahs on earth that need to be cleaned up,
they need to be sent to New York to somewhere.” He said, “Let me see
what I can do for you.” Anyway we raised maybe a thousand dollars.
Interviewer: Not a big deal but …
Aronovsky: You can’t raise much selling cookies. He found a Torah that had
been hidden, sent it I don’t know whether it was New York or Baltimore or
somewhere where there was a Sofer who cleaned it and who repaired it and
sent it back.
Interviewer: Let me just stop you at this point. I’m going to stop side B
of Tape 1 and we’ll continue from there. Hold just a few minutes. Okay, we’re
on side A of Tape 2. You had just raised money and bought a Torah.
Aronovsky: And bought a Torah and the head Jewish chaplain, and I’ve got
photographs, the head Jewish chaplain came for the dedication of the Torah
because I said, “. . . . I’m going to show you in Germany. We’re going
to have a bar mitzvah with a real Torah and it’s going to be done the
perfect, the real way.” And so, of course at the time Sam studied — Jim
had studied with a record. I think Sam already had a tape that he could study
from and I didn’t know tropes myself but I was able to help him as much as I
could and he had a beautiful bar mitzvah with a real Torah, and he read
from Torah. I purchased a beautiful silver yad that I donated.
Interviewer: You were completely satisfied with it?
Aronovsky: I was finally happy. My father had already died at the time but my
mother came. She came over and so did my mother-in-law for the bar mitzvah.
My older daughter Linda at the time, this was in the 60s, it was not common for
girls to be bat mitzvah. So she nor Sara were bat mitzvah. But my
youngest Miriam was bat mitzvah here in Tifereth and she was the second
girl to have a bat mitzvah on Shabbat morning. Because up until that time
they always had it either Shabbat night for . . . . or on a Friday night or they
would just talk about the Torah. But girls did not go up on the bimah and
read Torah on Shabbat morning. So Miriam I believe was either the second or
third and I said, “If you’re going to do it, you’re going to do it
properly.” So …
Interviewer: How did your husband feel about Judaism?
Aronovsky: He went along with me. Even though he was brought up Reform and I
became Conservative. When we first got married, we lived in Lake Charles,
Louisiana, and there was obviously no kosher butcher in Lake Charles. Very tiny,
small little Jewish community. The ones who did keep kosher had a big freezer
and they used to go to Houston once a month or every couple of weeks and
purchase enough food and put it in the freezer. We couldn’t afford a freezer.
We couldn’t afford to buy a half a steer because I got pregnant immediately so
the first thing we needed was a washing machine. We didn’t have a television
set or a dryer for several years. We couldn’t afford it. So I didn’t start
off housekeeping keeping kosher. Then I always felt myself being either
Conservative leaning toward Orthodox. And so every city we came to, we always
went to the Conservative synagogue. I didn’t like Reform. To me it was just a
little too radical, too . . . . And he went along with it even though he was
brought up Reform.
Interviewer: Where was he born? Where did he grow up?
Aronovsky: He was born in Cloquet, Minnesota. His family is all from
Minnesota. They had come around the turn of the century from Russia and people
tended when they came to this country to go where the climate was similar to
where they had come from, Minsk or Pinsk or one of those really cold areas. They
moved to the northern area to Minnesota. And all of his family is still living
in Minnesota and he was born there. My father-in-law was a very renowned chemist
and at one point, they were 5 or 6 brothers. They all wanted to change their
name from Aronovsky to Arnold and they asked him, they said, “Will you
change it with us?” and he said, “Well,” he’d gotten his Ph.D.
and he’d already written several papers, he was already known as Dr.
Aronovsky. He said, “You guys go ahead and change your names to Arnold. I’ll
remain Aronovsky.” And so they did so all of the uncles are all named
Arnold and they still live in St. Paul.
Interviewer: That would be your father-in-law’s brothers?
Aronovsky: Right and they all live in St. Paul. When I got married, Alvin
asked me, “Do you want to change your name?” I said, “Not really.
You’ve gotten by, you’re an air force officer. It hasn’t held you back
with that name. I don’t care. You do what you want.” Well he didn’t
want to. So really his brother changed it to Arnell. His brother’s a lawyer
and he felt Aronovsky in the law business maybe would hold him back so he
changed it. But I’ve never had any problem. I have to spell it all the time
but I’ve had no problems with Aronovsky.
Interviewer: What was his education in?
Aronovsky: Who’s that?
Interviewer: Your husband?
Aronovsky: In Peoria he went to Bradley University, he graduated college and
then in Dayton, as a matter of fact the year that Jim was bar mitzvah, in
Dayton he went to the, it was not the war college but he got a master’s in
Logistics so he had his master’s. But he always liked to drink and on the way
home from work he always stopped at the officer’s club and that’s one thing
I must say about the military, they made booze very attractive. It was two for
one and you buy a round and by the time he came home, he was never a jolly
drunk. He was, he was punitive, he was mean. He wasn’t very nice to the
children. I remember when I would want to go out in the evening with my friends,
go to play Bingo or to play cards or to play Mahjong, the kids dreaded it.
They didn’t want to stay with him because they didn’t feel comfortable with
him. He’d yell at them, he’d make them be quiet. He’d get them to bed
early. Ultimately when we got to Europe, the three years that we were, a year
and a half in Germany and the year and a half in Spain, he had gotten really
bad. He was, I don’t like to talk too much about him but …
Interviewer: So when were you divorced then?
Aronovsky: I was divorced toward the end of my stay in Spain. That was in
1972. And now I had to decide where I was going to come, where I was going to
Interviewer: You’re starting life all over again?
Aronovsky: All over again and where. My sister and my mother were living in
Montreal. They had not yet moved to Toronto. My mother had moved to Montreal to
be near my sister and she was going to move to Florida. And I felt I didn’t
want my kids raised in Canada. Again, I’d spent two years there. The outcome,
I want to go somewhere in the United States and I remembered living in Columbus.
We had lived here for 6 years and I had made some very good friends that I had
kept in touch with. I said, “Why don’t I decide to come back to
Columbus,” where at least I know one family, one friend.
Interviewer: And you still had the children with you?
Aronovsky: I had three. The older two were in college. Jim was his first year
in Houston. He went to Rice University in Houston and Linda was starting O.U.
because I decided to come to Columbus, she wanted to go to O.U.
Interviewer: In Athens?
Aronovsky: In Athens, right. She said, “It’s close enough to Columbus
and yet I’m not . . . . each other. So I came here and got myself a little
apartment. My divorce decree, I just wanted out of it. I was not that hung up on
getting money for myself but he did send money for the children and in the early
70s, things were so well I could live on what he sent for the children. I did
get part-time jobs immediately and one time I saw an ad in the paper that Ohio
Dominican had a Library Department. Well every time I’d been anywhere, I
always used to volunteer in the library. Used to type out cards or read to the
children and I said, “You know, I would like this.”
Interviewer: . . . . professional background.
Aronovsky: I only had two years of college at Brooklyn College. However when
I was in Europe and I knew that I was going to leave eventually, I took some
courses. The University of Maryland had sent professors to the air bases all
over Europe conducting classes and giving you credit. So I started, I applied to
the University of Maryland and took quite a few courses for two years, well the
year and a half that I was in Spain. So I had a little bit more than just the
two years at Brooklyn College. So when I came here, went to Ohio Dominican and I
needed more education courses than I had so I had to go two full years which I
didn’t mind. Took out loans and went two years to school. Worked part time.
Was able to live on the child support Alvin sent me and that was one thing I
must say about him: every month I got my check. Just a check in an envelope. No
nothing which was fine as long as I got my check. Because I think he knew that
if he didn’t send it to me, I could always either garnish his wages or, the
military is very good about that. So he doesn’t want to get into trouble. He
was then transferred from Spain to Spokane, Washington. But I graduated Ohio
Dominican and immediately got a job in a nice Catholic high school, Bishop
Hartley High School, as Librarian and once you’re in the school system, you
can get fee waivers to go back to school so I got fee waivers and spent three
years at Ohio State. Got my master’s in education and very fortunate. I think
only once did I have to pay for three credits. I was able to get fee waivers
throughout and retired 8 years ago in …
Interviewer: And you’re still teaching though aren’t you?
Aronovsky: I’m teaching, I’ve been teaching Hebrew School since I got
here because the first year I got here, the first apartment I lived in, in the
court there was a young woman that I met and she was teaching Hebrew at Temple
Israel. She said, “Oh we need teachers.” I said, “Oh well I used
to help out the chaplain in Europe and I know Hebrew,” and that was the
very first year, in 1972 I started to teach. And now I’ve been teaching all
these years. For a while I was the Librarian at Tifereth Israel. I had that job
for about 7 years. Just loved it. And then I left because they were starting the
Jewish Teacher Resource Center, which I started. And I had it for three years.
It was over in the Jewish Center; it’s downstairs now. But I started that and
ran it for three years and then I said, “Well, it got a little bit too much
for me.” I was working at Hartley full time and I always had two jobs. But
now I just teach once a week. I tutor a couple of kids.
Interviewer: How interesting that you were at Hartley, being a Librarian and
Tifereth Israel. What a varied background.
Aronovsky: And I was able to balance both. While I was at Hartley, especially
at Passover, the Religion Department would ask me to come in and talk about the
relationship of Passover and Easter and of course there is a relationship. And
sometimes I used to talk about the Seder. And I’d make the charoses and
bring it in and the matzo and let the kids taste it.
Interviewer: So it was a great benefit for them too?
Aronovsky: Absolutely. I’m sure that they learned a lot from that. And
around April-time also, I used to talk about the Holocaust. I used to mention,
bring that and sometimes my old story I would tell them or any questions that I
could answser. I’d talk about Hanukkah and bring up the major holidays. The
Religion Department when they taught what they called the Old Testament, the
Jewish Bible, would invite me in at appropriate times to give my ideas about
Jewish history and they treated me super.
Interviewer: You certainly had a different view on the Holocaust too than
most of the speakers that go into the schools now.
Aronovsky: That’s right.
Interviewer: But it’s great that you were able to give those different
Aronovsky: In fact there is a school somewhere in New Albany I think that had
me for three or four years, the eighth grade class, I always go in and talk to
them. And they evidently like what I say to them. They keep inviting me.
Interviewer: I think that World War II is just coming into the educational
system in America and words like “Holocaust” and “Gestapo”
and “Nazi” are somewhat new but . …
Aronovsky: And I never fail to stress to these children the fact that there
are denyers among us and that it’s so important for them not to believe
everything that’s printed. Just because it’s in a book does not mean it’s
true. I said, “People will try, and I have no idea what their agenda is,
why to them it is so important to maintain that the Holocaust did not happen.
But there are people who go around” — and I tell these kids, “I’m
here to tell you that it happened. I saw part of it. There were other speakers
that were in it.” I said, “It happened. It was there. Don’t let
anybody tell you that it didn’t happen,” because my thing has become,
once we all die off, the denyers are going to have free reign.
Interviewer: So that’s why it’s so important for people like you to give
Interviewer: They’ve got to know the truth. I think you’ve really had a
full, interesting life, really fascinating, and you’ve told about some of your
travels. Did you ever take trips that were just vacation trips or were these …
Aronovsky: Oh yeah. As a matter of fact, I just came back from a cruise, a
Interviewer: Oh, a Mahjong cruise?
Aronovsky: I’ve been playing Mahjong since, I think I learned it in the
50s when I lived in Lake Charles. I’ve always enjoyed playing it and never
thought that I would go on a cruise but I finally decided to give myself a
birthday present. I just turned a big zero number and I thought I’d give
myself a birthday present and I went on a Mahjong cruise and played 4 days out
of the 7. It was wonderful. Met nice people Now I think I did bring it up
earlier, when I was in Germany, we went to Israel the first time, the two of us.
We were able to find someone who watched the children for a week and we went to
Israel. This was in 1970 a week before Purim and it was just beautiful to see
all the masks and the costumes hanging in the windows of the stores. You think
Interviewer: I understand that’s a wonderful time. If there was more peace
in Israel now it would be wonderful.
Aronovsky: It’s also a rainy time so we had the raincoat and the umbrellas.
But we went all over.
Interviewer: Do you have family in Israel?
Aronovsky: Well Ruth, my cousin Ruth lives there but it’s very hard to keep
in touch with her. She travels a lot. She doesn’t stay with a family. So even
my sister doesn’t know where she is. We do keep in touch with her father, with
Leon Gruft who is a man, must be in his mid-90s, beginning to ail a little bit
and we don’t know how much longer he’ll be. But we call him by telephone.
Interviewer: Has he ever visited the States?
Aronovsky: No, no. He goes to Israel, he did, frequently to see his daughter
but he hasn’t come here.
Interviewer: Have you been back to Israel? You said you went that one time.
Aronovsky: Oh yeah. Because in teaching Hebrew School, I belonged to CAJE and
twice they had the conference in Israel. I went to that conference and once I
went a week before that and studied at an institute for a week. It was
fascinating. We studied the Bible in the morning and then in then afternoon we
would actually go and visit the site that we had studied about.
Interviewer: It’s real, isn’t it?
Aronovsky: It was just unbelievable. That was the most fascinating week I’ve
ever spent and of course, you can do all of Israel in one day. So we stayed in a
hotel in Jerusalem and just went and came back that evening. It was just
Interviewer: I remember Israeli friends that were visiting us and we were
talking about history and history books and he reminded us their history book is
the Bible. How real can that be?
Aronovsky: I know. It was fascinating to study something in the morning and
actually go to witness it that afternoon.
Interviewer: A wonderful experience.
Aronovsky: It was great. I went to Holland. Saw the Anne Frank house and the
Interviewer: Did you go back to Belgium?
Aronovsky: Did go to Belgium one time and we met my uncle. Stayed for 2 days,
just went for a couple of days. The three years that I spent in Europe, Alvin
spent a lot of time being drunk and it got to the point where one time I went to
the general and I said, “Can’t you do something for him?” “Oh I
didn’t know that he drank a lot,” and I said, “Oh God. I can’t
Interviewer: That is a sickness.
Aronovsky: It is. And so they sent him to Dayton from Germany. There
evidently is in the hospital where he could go and every day or every afternoon
or every night he had to go to an A. A. meeting. They have them all over, not
all over Dayton but all over Fairborn and the environs. And he was there for
maybe 6 weeks and I thought, “Oh well, maybe we’ll give it another
go.” He came back. I picked him up at the airport. He came into the
apartment. The first thing he did was go to the liquor cabinet and get himself a
drink. So I knew that …
Interviewer: It was not going to work?
Aronovsky: And so the three years in Europe I did a little bit of traveling
but my head was not in it.
Interviewer: Well let’s hope that the future had some more pleasant
Aronovsky: Oh I’m very happy. I’m totally content with my life.
Interviewer: I can see that.
Aronovsky: I do what I want. I do what I like. I have wonderful friends.
Interviewer: And you’ve raised a lovely family.
Aronovsky: Wonderful family. I have lots of grandchildren. This week-end Sara
and her family will come over and I’ll make latkes and we’ll exchange
Hanukkah gifts and we’re going to have a wonderful time.
Interviewer: Well you have a lot of stories to share with them and they’re
lucky that you’re able to give these versions that you have. And hopefully
this background that you’ve given us today will be a big benefit to the
archives in Columbus.
Aronovsky: I hope so.
Interviewer: On behalf of the Columbus Jewish Historical Society, I want to
thank you for the time you’ve spent with me this afternoon and it’s been a
treat. And we’re going to sign off unless you can think of some more messages.
You’ve given us a lot of…
Aronovsky: No. Thank you for listening to me and in the future, whoever hears
this, I hope you’ll get something from it and benefit from it.
Interviewer: I’m sure we will. Thank you very much and may your life
continue on a positive note.
Aronovsky: Thank you Naomi.
* * *
Transcribed by Honey Abramson
Corrected by Manné Aronovsky