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 (09-010.21-F) -  Shelf Number: MDV 471

No streaming derivative is available.

Date: May 26, 2008

Participants: Kaviner, Aba Davidovich. 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 begins at a Holocaust monument in a forest or park near Khmil'nyk and the cemetery in Medzhibozh and the grave of the Besht.

The tape then cuts to the home of Aba Davidovich Kaviner (b. 1921, Derazhnya) for an interview. (Part 1 of 4. See MDV 472, MDV 473, and Accession # 09-010.48-F MDV 674)

Cities and towns mentioned on this tape: Khmil'nyk, Balta, Akkerman, Bershad’, Odesa, Khmel'nyts'kyy (Proskurov), Derazhnya, Starokostyantyniv, Zhytomyr, Kupel’.

00:00:00 This tape begins at a Holocaust monument in a forest or park near Khmil'nyk.
00:03:03 The tape cuts to the cemetery in Medzhibozh and the grave of the Besht.
00:05:55 The tape then cuts to the home of Aba Davidovich Kaviner (b. 1921, Derazhnya). The researchers and Kaviner greet each other warmly. Professor Kerler gives Kaviner a few books in Yiddish. Kaviner reports that he read the book by Yoysef Kerler that Professor Kerler gave him in the previous interview already numerous times and cried while reading it. Kaviner offers a brief analysis of Yoysef Kerler’s work. He also gives updates on past AHEYM interviewees in the area and discusses the difficulty of finding new people to interview among the “Jews who don’t want to know they are Jews,” and the intermarried Jews that remain.
00:14:11 Kaviner tells a story about an encounter he once had with an old Jew who intermarried and who was later disowned by his children in his later years.
00:19:10 The research team discusses their route, the people and the communities with whom they have come into contact on their expeditions.
00:21:37 Kaviner reports that his daughter, who lives in Khmel'nyts'kyy, understands, but doesn’t speak Yiddish.
00:22:17 Kaviner shares his attitudes towards different dialects of Yiddish and discusses a work by Soviet Yiddish author Dovid Bergelson: “Der toyber” (The Deaf).
00:24:12 Kaviner talks about the death of Shloyme Mikhoels, and about how people suspected that he was murdered. He also recalls Mikhoels’ funeral and his eventual rehabilitation. Kaviner also speaks about numerous other Soviet Yiddish writers and cultural figures.
00:28:01 Kaviner shares his views on “Di klasiker,” the three classic Yiddish writers in Yiddish literature, as well as his analysis of the history and development of Yiddish literature.
00:30:36 Kaviner tells the story of one of his most memorable reading experiences: When he was twelve years old he visited a local rich man’s large library from where he obtained Avraham Mapu’s “Ahaves Tsiyen" (Love of Zion) in “loshn-koydesh” (Hebrew). He remembers hiding in the attic in the summertime to hide from his father in order to read it. Kaviner further discusses “Di klasiker” and the Soviet Yiddish writers that he read in his youth.
00:34:26 He recites a poem by Itsik Fefer.
00:35:40 He recites poetry by Osher Shvartsman.
00:36:21 He recites a fragment from Dovid Hofshteyn and discusses his life and work, including the work of his sister Shifre Kholodenko.
00:37:38 Kaviner states that Bialik was a writer of incomparable talent and discusses his work and biography with Professor Kerler.
00:41:44 Kaviner also talks about Shimon Frug's works and biography.
00:43:31 Kaviner discusses how the curriculum of Soviet Yiddish schools was decided, and lists writers who lived outside the Soviet Union who were read and not repressed like many of those who stayed behind.
00:45:06 Itsik Manger, according to Kaviner, was part of the Soviet Yiddish literary curriculum in the 1930s because he wrote “simply about Jewish life”.
00:46:37 Kaviner states that he has read the complete works of Yekhiel Shraybman and comments on several other postwar Soviet Yiddish writers whose works he has enjoyed. Kaviner speaks about the history of the journal Sovetish Heymland and its editor Arn Vergelis. Kaviner states that he met several times with Khayim Beyder. Although he does not hold the latter’s work in high regard, he knew his family well, having served in the military with his brother. Kaviner talks about his meeting with Soviet Yiddish writer Shmuel Halkin in 1948 and recites some of his poetry.
00:52:03 Kaviner comments on his life today, focusing on his health problems, his daughter’s career and his pride in his grandson, who used to work in Hesed (elderly welfare organization), but now works in a Ukrainian government agency.
00:55:15 Kaviner reports that before the war, he published a few poems in the journal “Der Shtern.” After the war, he also wrote two novels about Jewish life before the war and during the evacuation, but later burned these works as he feared the consequences if someone found that he was writing in Yiddish.
00:59:04 Kaviner briefly comments on his relations with non-Jews throughout his life and in the army.
00:59:45 Kaviner speaks about the lesser known Soviet Yiddish writers he knew personally, including his friend Itsik Sokol, who published a book of poetry after the war, and Moyshe Zibnberg, who published in the school newspaper before the war. Kaviner also briefly comments on Yiddish and drama circles in his town before the war.
01:02:35 End of Recording.