Born: May 8, 1936, Riga, Latvia
Manny was born to a religious Jewish family in the port city of Riga, Latvia. Shortly after Manny's birth, his father accepted a post as one of the four chief cantors in Budapest and the family returned to Hungary, where they had lived before 1933. Manny's father was based at the renowned Rombach Street synagogue. Between the wars, Budapest was an important Jewish center in Europe.
1933-39: Father wouldn't let me have a bicycle. He thought someone might take it away from me because I was Jewish. After anti-Jewish laws were passed in 1938, Jews were severely harassed in Hungary. Father followed me to school to see that I made it there safely. My school was only a few blocks away, but he was afraid someone might come up behind me and push me into traffic. Father said things like that had happened before.
1940-44: I was just old enough to explore my neighborhood when the Germans came to Budapest in March 1944. Mother told me we were being deported. I wasn't sure what that was, only that we were leaving. It sounded like an adventure, but Mother said it was serious. We were with a group of Jews the Germans were exchanging for trucks. We left on trains; at night we slept outside in tents. We came to the Bergen-Belsen camp. It was muddy and my shoes fell apart. That meant I couldn't run around; running was the only "play" we had.
After the war, Manny went to Switzerland with his mother for several months, before emigrating to Palestine in 1945. He moved to the United States in 1949.
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