Bella Vaisman was born in 1925 in Berdychiv. Her father was born in Warsaw and worked as a chief accountant. She grew up in a relatively wealthy family. Days before the war began, she went to visit her cousin, as a result of which she was cut of from the rest of her family. She survived the war in evacuation in Uzbekistan, but her family was killed in Berdychiv. She was married to Isaak Vaisman.

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Bella Vaisman remembers her family's Passover celebration at home in the Jewish town Berdychiv. She points out that she had no brother, who could ask the Four Questions.

The Passover holiday is a domestic affair and is intricately bound up with memories of family and loved ones. Passover was the most observed Jewish holiday in the interwar Soviet Union, as well as the one most condemned by the government. The Jewish Sections of the Communist Party also recognized the popularity of Passover celebrations, and so concentrated much of their propaganda on combating its observance through the use of “Red Haggadahs” and mock trials of Passover.

Passover, like the Sabbath, is remembered today primarily because it evokes memories of family, food, and domestic harmony. Passover’s central rituals — eating matzo, cleaning the house of bread products, and the seder meal — are focused on the home rather than on the synagogue, just as the Sabbath meal and rest are domestic rituals.

Both holidays can be observed in private, inconspicuously, and with few resources. Although both also have a synagogue component, it is the home rituals that define the holiday. Passover was and remains a cherished holiday neither because of its universalist message of liberation nor because of its centrality as one of the three pilgrimage festivals in the Jewish religious tradition, but rather because the unique tastes and smells associated with its specific dietary restrictions evoke a nostalgic longing for childhood.

Source: Jeffrey Veidlinger, In the Shadow of the Shtetl: Small-Town Jewish Life in Soviet Ukraine (Indiana University Press, 2013)