Interview for

Betty Grumet

6/4/2019

Interviewed By:

Serena Alagappan

Date Interviewed:

Audio Recording of Interview
00:00 / 46:07
Summary

Betty Grumet speaks of how her family’s experience surviving the Holocaust shaped her connection to Jewish religion and cultural identity. Grumet explores her own personal relationship to God and how resettlement from postwar Europe to New York shaped her identity as a Jew and her belief that faith and culture are inseparable in Judaism.

Transcript
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Additional Notes
Outline

Narrator: Betty Grumet

Date: 06/04/19

Location: New York City, NY


Summary: Betty Grumet speaks of how her family’s experience surviving the Holocaust shaped her connection to Jewish religion and cultural identity. Grumet explores her own personal relationship to God and how resettlement from postwar Europe to New York shaped her identity as a Jew and her belief that faith and culture are inseparable in Judaism.

Topics: Faith, Family, Childhood, War, Violence, Revival of Faith, Gratitude, Religious Practice, Employment, Discrimination, Places of Worship


Outline

Section 1: 0:00-12:03

  • Faith - After the war, attended orthodox school in Antwerp, Belgium. However, she did not feel any connection with religion at the time.

  • Family - Brother risked her heritage being exposed by sending her letter affirming it while he was in hiding.

Section 2: 12:03-19:31

  • Revival of Faith - Considers herself now to be a very spiritual person, but doesn’t fit everyone’s definition of “religious.” Wasn’t aware she was Jewish before the holocaust.

  • Childhood - Derives her sense of tradition from childhood, from what she learned from her parents; sees her husband’s more orthodox family as living in a “narrow way”

  • War, Violence, Faith - Father died in Auschwitz, and mother became more and more religious after the holocaust; Orthodox by the time she died.

Section 3: 19:31-27:44

  • Gratitude - Feels very strongly about crediting those who rescued her, including one man who saved many Jewish children including herself. His daughter, Monique, named her own daughter after Betty.

  • Faith - Now firmly believes in God and the power of faith, but doesn’t feel like religion is something one can explain. Believes that God is a connection to “being good.”

  • Religious Practice - Betty believes that, for her, religious tradition and culture are completely intertwined.

Section 4: 27:44-30:37

  • Childhood - Home to Betty is more about how you are raised; growing up, her family always had an open door on Friday nights, allowing in those who had nowhere else to go.

Section 5: 30:37-41:26

  • Family - Vividly remembers the disappointment of being reunited with her mother after four years, only for her mother to immediately ask after her older brother, Harry.

  • Employment - Worked as a diamond buyer after first resettlement in Europe. Did not plan on settling in the U.S. — assumed she would live a “normal” life in Europe.

  • Discrimination - Has clear memory of a gentile girl calling her a “dirty Jew,” then turning around and hitting her; Betty’s family was supportive of her actions.

Section 6: 41:26-46:01

  • Religious Practice - Resonates in particular with “The Shema” prayer, which is the first prayer she learned when she was little. It means “listen Israel, the voice of God.” However, when in school, she only prayed because she had to.

  • Places of Worship - Doesn’t worship in communities, because she feels as though faith and prayer are between herself and God. Has no keepsakes from home, other than candlesticks her mother gave her, as she was too young.