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 (09-010.21-F) -  Shelf Number: MDV 478

No streaming derivative is available.

Date: January 5, 2009

Participants: Kaviner, Aba Davidovich. Interviewed by Dov-Ber Kerler, Jeffrey Veidlinger.

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

Language: Yiddish, Russian

Culture Group: Jews, Yiddish-speakers, Ukrainians

 Recording Content:   

The research team searches for Kaviner’s apartment.

This recording consists of a formal interview with Aba Davidovich Kaviner (b. 1921, Derazhnya). (Part 1 of 2. See MDV 479)

Cities and towns mentioned on this tape: Derazhnya, Starokostyantyniv, Polonne, Medzhibozh, Kam”yanets’-Podil’s’kyy, Khmel'nyts'kyy (Proskurov), Chernivtsi.

00:00:00 This tape consists of a formal interview with Aba Davidovich Kaviner (b. 1921, Derazhnya). The research team searches for Kaviner’s apartment.
00:01:35 The formal interview begins. Kaviner lists Yiddish writers from the area, and comments on the life and works of Mendele Moykher Sforim and other figures.
00:09:31 Kaviner recalls the higher education he received in Leningrad in a military school. He also tells the research team about his experience in the Baltic republics during the first days of the war and his evacuation soon thereafter to Moscow.
00:16:45 He continues to relate his wartime experiences in Moscow where he paraded in front of Stalin. Switching briefly into Russian, he recites part of Stalin’s speech that he remembers to this day. He continues to talk about his military service, speaking about the different places he served, the wounds he received, and duties he fulfilled. He was demobilized in 1946.
00:27:32 Kaviner shows his jacket of war medals and decorations, all the while telling more war stories.
00:31:22 In the immediate postwar period, Kaviner returned to Derazhnya, and then soon thereafter moved to Khmel'nyts'kyy in order to find work. He describes the hardships and famine in those first postwar years, as well as his career as the head of a carpentry workshop.
00:34:12 Kaviner speaks about the continued existence of anti-Semitism after the war and the postwar Jewish community in Khmel'nyts'kyy that consisted of demobilized soldiers and internal migrants from the surrounding shtetlekh. Although many of these Jews eventually moved to other cities in the USSR, Kaviner reports that there was still a significant community in the town until mass emigration began in later decades.
00:38:50 Kaviner tells the history of Khmel'nyts'kyy’s synagogues before and after the war. In the postwar period, only two of the town’s original eight synagogues remained, and only one was available for Jewish use. In 1951, this was closed down by the authorities, and all of the community’s important figures were arrested on accusations of spying during the war.
00:45:12 Kaviner discusses the contemporary Jewish community in Khmel'nyts'kyy, recalling the history of its reestablishment, and its internal politics.
00:50:07 Kaviner speaks about his daughter and his grandson, and their respective education and career paths.
00:53:00 Kaviner shares his views on prayer and religion, commenting on the place of both in his family life before the war. Noting his natural aptitude for learning, he describes the rapid progress he made in his religious education and what he remembers of it today. He also talks about the teachers from the yeshiva where he studied and the “open secret” status of the school under the Soviet Union.
00:57:29 A teacher at a yeshiva, according to Kaviner, must be knowledgeable in modern math, science and history in addition to Judaica to be able to teach and understand traditional texts. He describes his school as not belonging to any one specific Jewish group, although they did follow the example of the Baal Shem Tov and other rebbes.
01:01:26 End of Recording.