Bill Ornstein: Keeping Kosher
Location:Schara Tzedeck Synagogue
Date:Thursday, January 18, 2001
ID:Digital audio recording #: 20-01:05
JG: So how did you maintain a Jewish lifestyle?
BO: Would you believe my mother brought her kosher food in from Quebec City [the family was living in Cabano, a small town outside of Quebec City at the time]? Every week we got a parcel of meat and poultry. Our house was strictly kosher. We had 4 sets of dishes, two for Pesach and two for the rest of the year. And on Pesach my mother used to go up to the dairy with her own pot and milk the cow herself into the pot, so the children could have fresh milk. We had chickens in our own yard so we had fresh eggs and eventually we had our own cow and my father owned a horse.
JG: Did you celebrate the holidays with other Jewish families in the area, with
your uncle and aunt?
BO: No. The only holiday we celebrated with anybody, and that was just my father and myself, my father combined a buying trip with Rosh Hashanah/Yom Kippur and we went into Montreal. On the way we picked up some of the Jewish men from Rivière-Du-Loup because you had to change trains and we all went together to Montreal and we stayed with one of my father’s brothers. I remember sleeping on a bed made out of a rectangle of chairs, piled with pillows. My father belonged to what was called then the Romana Shul it was actually the Beth David synagogue, one of the largest synagogues in Montreal. I also remember very clearly Kippurs before Yontif…
JG: Describe that.
BO: My father or my uncle would take a white chicken by the legs and wave it over my head and say the Kippuris prayer and I was always petrified that the chicken would have a little diarrhea maybe [laughter].
JG: It was a tense moment!
BO: It was very tense, not knowing how the chicken felt [laughter].
JG: Now you were always within walking distance of the synagogue with all of these homes, did you remain kosher and Shomer Shabbat, as your family had been?
BO: Okay, as far as kosher is concerned when we came here we were not kosher. We did actually observe Pesach because when we drove out here it was Chol Ha-Mo'ed Pesach. We had fruit and juices a couple of boxes of matzah in the car and that’s how we travelled.
JG: Yep I’ve travelled like that.
BO: Yeah I would not desecrate Pesach even though we were travelling. But we weren’t kosher as far as the food we had in the house or our dishes. And what happened is that Anita  came to a, I guess it was a debate, that some of the teenagers were participating in, Les Horowitz was one of the participants and there were a few other kids and they actually sent out a message to Anita anyway, about the confusion that existed between what they were learning in Talmud Torah and what they saw in their own homes. And they felt very confused about really what was right to do as far as kashrut and Shabbat observances and so on. Anita came home that night and she said from now on our home is going to be a kosher home. When she told this to Shirley Goldenberg, Shirley and the Rabbi came down here, koshered all of our cutlery, our pots, our pans, and they went out and bought us our first set of dishes from Army & Navy and our house has been kosher ever since.
JG: So the kids teach the parents now and then.