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 (09-010.52-F) -  Shelf Number: MDV 696

No streaming derivative is available.

Date: June 28, 2005

Participants: Tkach, Anna Borisovna. Interviewed by Dov-Ber Kerler, Jeffrey Veidlinger, Dovid Katz.

Location recorded: Yampil’, Vinnyts'ka Oblast', Ukraine

Language: Yiddish

Culture Group: Jews, Yiddish-speakers, Ukrainians

 Recording Content:   

The tape begins with scenes of the research team driving through Iampil’.

They eventually reach the home of Anna Borisovna Tkach, with whom they begin a formal interview. (Part 1 of 2. See MDV 697) Born in 1935 in a small Jewish town known as Chernivtsi, sometimes called “Kleyn Tshernovits” (to distinguish it from the larger city of the same name), Tkach begins the interview discussing her parents Berl Nakhums and Leyke Yoysefs. Her family had a traditional Jewish house, complete with mezuzahs. Her uncle Avrum was the gabbai in the town’s synagogue and she remembers the blowing of the shoyfer (shofar) on Yom Kippur as well as the celebrations in honor of simkhes toyre (Simchat Torah). Tkach’s aunt, Blume, would sit near the window in the women’s section of the synagogue on the balcony. The interviewee recalls how Blume would sit wearing a black scarf and reading tkhines (women’s prayers in Yiddish) to herself. There was a shoykhet (ritual slaughterer) who led the services for the men. Among the women, those who were older knew how to read. For the other women, Aunt Blume read prayers out loud in the women's section. Tkach had another aunt, Minda, who escaped to Chernivtsi during the war, despite the fact that her whole immediate family had been killed.

Tkach herself doesn’t remember much from before the war, although she does recall how Jews from western Ukraine, Bukovina, and Bessarabia arrived in Chernivtsi at the beginning of the war. Every year before Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, as well as on yortsaytn (anniversary of the death of a close relative), Tkach visits a local war memorial “to visit the graves of her loved ones". Tkach also discusses the education that she and her brother Khayem/Efim (b. 1927) received before and after the war. When the refugees arrived in Chernivtsi, her brother worked as a barber and with the little he earned from this trade they could buy food and survived. After the war, he entered medical school in “groys Tshernovits”. Tkach also describes her post-war life, including her beloved work as a Ukrainian-language journalist in local newspapers for forty years. The interviewee also shares culinary traditions and recipes connected with celebrations, such as shabes (Sabbath), Passover, Purim, and Chanukah, including keyzelekh (dumplings), humentashen (hamantashen) and other foods. On Chanukah, Tkach relates, the children would run around asking for khanike gelt, or small amounts of money.

Even during the war, after the Germans arrived, the children still gathered and went around to uncles and relatives to get money. Other childhood games included a version of hide and seek. Tkach also describes her town’s Jewish atmosphere, including her Yiddish-speaking friends and the two synagogues, one of which was converted into a printing press. Tkach shares extensive memories of Jewish weddings from before and after the war, including memories of dances and tunes, including “7:40”, the sher (a type of Jewish square dance), the karapyet (a couples dance) and freylekhs (a circle dance). After the war, there were few Jewish weddings, but when there was one, such as at her ceremony in 1962, there was always a chuppah. The bride would circle the bridegroom, then a glass would be broken. At these celebrations, there were non-Jewish musicians who knew how to play Jewish melodies, as well as a master-of-ceremonies figure who would announce guests who had requested music.

Tkach then returns to the topic of traditional foodways related to gefilte and gehakte fish (stuffed and chopped fish) and chicken soup, how to keep kosher. The interviewee also remarks on the perceived differences between Yiddish dialects. She discusses her views on contemporary Ukrainian culture and politics. Tkach tells the story of several non-Jews who spoke Yiddish: e.g. a collaborator in Chernivsti later killed by the town’s liberators. When Tkach moved to Iampil’ (known in Yidish as Yompele) in 1965, there were still old Jewish houses, and the Jews would sit on benches and socialize. Tkach tries to depict what it was like for Jews in the immediate post-war period, stating that there was a rise in anti-Semitism (typified by the Doctor’s Plot) and that people were afraid to speak Yiddish or admit being Jewish throughout the 1950s, late Stalinist period. The research team then asks the interviewee questions relating to linguistics and dialectology.