Buda and Pest

I was 18 years old, living in Budapest, Hungary. My mother worked from 3 a.m. until 6 p.m., six days a week. Her favorite saying was, “A man is as good as his word.” From her I learned determination, endurance, and responsibility. My father, an exceptionally good man, loved life and always helped others. His favorite saying was, “Live and let live.” From him I learned compassion and laughter. He and I had unlimited joy together. I admired my father above all other human beings. Our parents provided my brother and me with every kind of education, and with things they were not fortunate enough to have had in their youth.

I had just finished high school and was getting ready for further studies. Because I was a Jew, I was not accepted at the university. Instead I attended evening classes at an art school. (My older brother was sent to Switzerland to study and to be away from the political turmoil.) From my infancy, I had a devout Catholic nurse named Anna, who lived with us through the years and became like a second mother to me, providing me with unlimited love and kindness. I attended both Friday service in the synagogue and Sunday Mass. I was taught to respect others’ beliefs and ways of life, and our door was always open to those who were less fortunate.

Buda and Pest are separated by the River Danube, but bridges connect them. So it was in my home: different religions were linked by love and understanding.