18.08.2021 | Redaktor

Dov Landau speaks about his bar mitzvah

On August 13, 2021, Dov Landau shared memories of his bar mitzvah, which took place in Brzesko in the summer of 1941. Bar mitzvah (from Hebrew בר מצוה, “son of the commandment”) is a Jewish religious ceremony which marks a 13-year-old boy’s assumption of religious and legal obgligations under Jewish law. This coming-of-age ritual is usually held in a synagogue right after the 13th birthday. The boy is called for the first time to read a fragment of the Torah and comment on it.

Dov Landau in Brzesko, 2019

From a conversation with Dov Landau:

– My bar mitzvah was on Shabbat in August 1941. There was a war, but we could still go to the synagogue, we could still pray. We used to go to the Hasidic synagogue on Berka Joselewicza street. There were 80-100 people there that day. Daddy prayed, me and my younger brother Naftali sang. Later I was called to read the Torah. It was a sad celebration. There weren’t any major actions in town yet, but life was getting harder and harder and we feared the future.

Chasidic synagogue at Berka Joselewicza street in Brzesko, 1929. Photo by Shcaje Weiss , from the family archive of Charles Weiss Jr.
Benjamin Landau, father of Dov, 1935. Photo from the family archive of Dov Landau.
Scheindel Landau, mother of Dov, 1935. Photo from the family archive of Dov Landau.

We went home from the synagogue, only the immediate family, 10-12 people. My parents, my three younger brothers, grandparents and some of Daddy’s siblings. We were still living in the Market Square at the time, the ghetto was established later. Mom prepared cholent, kugel, meat jelly and such a dish our of poultry offal. We took cholent and kugel to the bakery the previous day, and they were ready and warm on Shabbat. Before the war, that’s what we used to do every Friday, but in 1941 it was already difficult to get food. I don’t know how my parents managed. I didn’t receive any gifts, just this dinner. And my brothers didn’t have bar mitzvah. Naftali, Josef, Nisan – they were all murdered in 1942.

Dov Landau, 1946. Photo from the family archive of Dov Landau.
Dov Landau in front of the house where he was born, Brzesko Market Square, 2016.

© Anna Brzyska, 2021