Ken Cossoy

324 Hill Street


This is Ken Cossoy. In this story he tells us about his time attending the Talmud Torah, a Jewish religious school, on 324 Hill Street. 

I attended the Talmud Torah in 1940-something, the 1940’s. It was kind of forced. It was something that we pretty well had to do in order to become bar mitzvahed and that’s where we learned our bar mitzvah. 

We used to take the bus, and I’m trying to remember if it was once a week or twice. I’m thinking probably twice a week to there and we were to study because it was after regular school. So first of all, as I recall, the bus tickets I think at that time would cost us 5 cents and this would be in the late 40’s and early 50’s. There was a, what we’d call a variety store now, at the corner of what would be Waterloo and Hill street I think. And we used to go in there and they had donuts that they used to bring in from somewhere. And I can remember buying a donut there almost all the time because we were always hungry by that stage of the game. 

There is a side effect, as I said, it was kind of a forced thing that we had to do and I was somewhat of a problem student. There was a point there where I had a corner of the room named after me because that’s where I used to get sent all the time when I was getting into trouble, so I guess that’s another memory of the place. But most of the memories are good. People teaching us were generally the rabbis who weren’t necessarily the greatest teachers, and the topic wasn’t something we were necessarily the most interested in. It was a means to an end and the social side of things, of course, that’s a… when you become teenagers that is far more than the learning of something that you didn’t particularly want to do. 

Being Jewish in the city at that time was less acceptable than in other manners than it is nowadays. The anti-semitsm was a lot higher then. It gave us the ability to get to know each other in the community and we used to have parties together. There was one group that probably15 people roughly, and we interacted constantly. This was our social group.