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Oral history interview with Jose Epstein

Oral History | Accession Number: 2009.29.9 | RG Number: RG-50.590.0009

Jose Epstein, born in Slonim, Belarus in 1910, describes growing up in a poor family; his father’s work distributing merchandise on his horse; attending kheder at the age of 5, but stopping when WWI began; apprenticing as a shoemaker then as a carpenter; getting help from his sister, who lived in the US, and immigrating in 1927 to Argentina, where another of his sisters lived; how the economy was very depressed when he arrived and it was very hard to find work; working in the furniture industry; joining the syndicate of the carpenters; how the syndicate had separate sections for the gentiles and the Jews; the large representation of Jews in the syndicate; the Yiddish library in the site of the syndicate; siding mainly with the communists and being taken to jail many times; how the syndicate supported the workers in jail; becoming a member of the Communist Party; how in 1930 there was a month-long strike demanding a raise in their pay; the better conditions from the gentile workers, who worked in larger factories, while the Jews worked in small shops of a few workers; how the at that time, the syndicate was split between the Sindicato Unico de la Madera (the gentiles) and the Classist Syndicate (of the little shops), whose leaders were more leftist; the meetings of the syndicate, which were carried in Yiddish and Spanish; the section in charge of raising funds to support those workers in jail; the separate syndicate for the tailors; how in those years, the syndicate did not join with the activists who were Zionist; PROKOR, which was the organization in charge of talking up the emigration to Birobidjan (Birobidzhan, Russia); the numerous activists coming from the Soviet Union and trying to entice the Jews to join them and leave Argentina; deciding not to leave Argentina because he was married and also because he heard rumors about the fate of those who had left; establishing his own furniture factory with a few other partners; and having two sons and raising them with Jewish educations.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
José Epstejn
Gabriel Trajtenberg
interview:  1987 October
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, acquired from the Asociacion Mutual Israelita Argentina-Communidad de Buenos Aires
Record last modified: 2020-03-26 09:23:43
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