Bill Bergman: My First Passover Memory

The first Passover Bill vividly remembers was when he was seven years old.  

A couple of years before his father had been released from Dachau concentration camp and his mother was still nursing her bullet wounds from an antisemitic attack. The family had spent over a year in the Isle of Man as stateless Enemy Aliens for a number of months before being allowed to enter the British mainland in 1941.  

Bill’s father was offered work and accommodation on a farm in Fifeshire, Scotland. However, due to his struggle in Dachau he was too weak to carry out the basic manual tasks required of farm labourers. The family were therefore left with no way of earning money and were given one room between the three of them. In this room they had nothing but the basic necessities, two single beds, a gas ring, coal fire, a kettle, a table and a couple of pots and pans. Bill guesses that they were the first Jewish family to ever live there. Certainly, they were only Jews in the area at that time. 'It was a time of great uncertainty; all I knew was that no one was beating my father and I was with my mother.'

The family did not even know what date it was but from the change in weather they guessed it was early April. Somehow, Bill's father had a Seder Prayer Book and without even matzah or surety of the correct date, Bill’s father stood in the middle of their one room and recited the Passover Prayers. 'It was the first Passover I remember, a very vivid memory. It was the first time I realised I was even Jewish. My parents clung onto their religion as best as they could.'