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 (09-010.21-F) -  Shelf Number: MDV 467

No streaming derivative is available.

Date: May 29, 2007

Participants: Yarmolnik, Sonya Petrovna. Interviewed by Dov-Ber Kerler, Moisei Lemster.

Location recorded: Khmel'nyts'kyy, Khmel’nyts’ka Oblast', Ukraine

Language: Yiddish, Russian

Culture Group: Jews, Yiddish-speakers, Ukrainians

 Recording Content:   

This recording consists of a formal interview with Sonya (Sure) Petrovna Yarmolnik (née Gravits), born in 1929 in Khmel'nyts'kyy. (Part 1 of 2. See MDV 468)

00:00:00 This tape consists of a formal interview with Sonya (Sure) Petrovna Yarmolnik (née Gravits), born in 1929 in Khmel'nyts'kyy. She grew up in a Jewish family that celebrated all the holidays. Her maternal grandfather, Shloyme, was a blacksmith. He had twelve children who moved all over the world to Germany, America, as well as many nearby towns. Yarmolnik also states that her father was born in 1918 [sic].
00:04:30 Yarmolnik begins a story she heard from her mother about a pogrom in 1921 in Khmel'nytskyy led by Petliura’s troops. Integrated into this narrative are details from her family’s experiences during the Great Patriotic War. Yarmolnik lists the deaths of numerous family members throughout her lifetime, commenting that she is now all alone. [00:08:31] During the evacuation to Uzbekistan, Yarmolnik worked in a war factory as much as eighteen hours a day.
00:09:09 Yarmolnik briefly discusses pre-war Khmel'nytskyy. There were Yiddish schools in the town, but they were already closed by the time Yarmolnik could attend, so she was educated in a Russian-language institution. After the war, Yarmolnik found the house she had lived in ruined. She then talks about the reparation funds she tried to receive from Switzerland. Yarmolnik worked 51 years as an economist and accountant after the war.
00:10:37 Yarmolnik does not remember her grandmothers, at least one of whom died before she was born. She tells a story about her grandfather who went blind, survived a flood and had an operation, after which he regained his sight. Her father fought in the war and was killed on May 16th, 1945, exactly a week after victory. Her mother died in 1968.
00:13:14 Yarmolnik spoke Yiddish at home in her childhood, but spoke mostly in Russian with the other children in her school. She sings fragments from “Bay mir bistu sheyn” and “Papirosn,” and recites the lyrics of another song about two lovers discussing their respective families.
00:15:58 In the postwar period, Yarmolnik would secretly bake matzo with her mother. Her mother frequently attended synagogue after the war.
00:16:36 Yarmolnik describes the two-story synagogue she went to in Khmel'nytskyy before the war. She recalls the observance of Yom Kippur, which was attended by “more people than a parade,” and concluded with a feast.
00:17:31 She briefly discusses her family’s life during the evacuation in Uzbekistan.
00:18:32 Yarmolnik’s husband was from Medzhibozh. She talks about the one remaining Jew in the town, who recently passed away. She comments on the tourist infrastructure that is now in place there with new hotels and rebuilt synagogues. Yarmolnik was once taken to Medzhibozh by her husband to see the Besht’s grave.
00:21:45 In the postwar period, Yarmolnik reports, few people knew about the Besht or his gravesite but her husband, Misha/Monia Borisovich, told her about it. Yarmolnik lived with her husband for forty-six years. Their one son was circumcised in a private home by a local rabbi, an action she was unafraid to take, although she knew it was risky. (“Why should we have been afraid? I was not a Party member, my husband was not a Party member”). Yarmolnik states that she was not afraid of being sent to jail or of what the non-Jews might think or say. Professor Kerler also asks Yarmolnik about her use of a particular Ukrainian-language expression in her Yiddish.
00:25:10 Before the war, Yarmolnik lived on a Jewish street, where non-Jews also lived. She recites a few fragment of “Itsik hot shoyn khasene gehat” and “Lomir zikh iberbetn”.
00:27:29 Yarmolnik shares a story she heard from her mother about the pogrom in Khmel'nytskyy, about a priest who was killed for protecting Jews in his church.
00:28:20 Yarmolnik states that there were many non-Jews who spoke Yiddish in Khmel'nyts'kyy since, on her street for instance, non-Jews were a minority. Yarmolnik speaks briefly about her maternal aunt, whose husband was a Party official and registered her as an ethnic German.
00:30:43 Yarmolnik spoke only in Yiddish with her husband and son. Her grandson understands but does not speak Yiddish. Her grandson finished the local Jewish school.
00:32:01 The research team begins their questionnaire related to Yiddish sociolinguistics and dialectology.
00:34:15 Yarmolnik mentions her estranged family members in Israel and states that she is all alone except for her grandson.
00:35:10 Yarmolnik spoke in Yiddish to her son and he would go to synagogue with his father on all the Jewish holidays. Before the war, Yarmolnik’s brother graduated from the Yiddish school in Khmel'nyts'kyy before it was closed.
00:36:41 The research team returns to their linguistics questionnaire.
00:40:18 Yarmolnik shares her recipe for “gefilte fish” and reports that she made traditional Jewish foods for a recent wedding in the community. She then shares her recipe for “fludn” (a sweet pastry).
00:44:44 The team returns to the linguistics questionnaire.
00:51:21 Yarmolnik briefly discusses customs and foods related to khanike (Chanukah) and shvies (Shavuot).
00:53:12 The team returns to the linguistics questionnaire.Cities and towns mentioned on this tape: Khmel'nyts'kyy (Proskurov), Bila Tserkva, Medzhibozh.
01:00:50 End of Recording.