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 (09-010.31-F) -  Shelf Number: MDV 764


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Date: December 13, 2005

Participants: Sobol, Maria Iosipovna; Interviewed by Dov-Ber Kerler, Dovid Katz, Moisei Lemster.

Location recorded: Mohyliv-Podil’s’kyy, Vinnyts'ka Oblast', Ukraine

Language: Yiddish

Culture Group: Jews, Yiddish-speakers, Ukrainians

 Recording Content:   

This tape consists of a formal interview with Maria (Molke) Iosipovna Sobol (b. 1915), who, like all other members of her family, was born in Mohyliv-Podil’s’kyy. Her mother, Ester Berkes, worked as a housewife, raising seven children, although only Sobol and her brother Yisrul survived into adulthood. Her father Yosl Yisruls worked in a factory. She met her husband, originally from Bukovina, in a camp during the war. Sobol remembers the famine in 1932-33 and how the poorest people walked around with distended bellies. During this time, her father did some work for the police and took the food meant for the horses for the family, enabling them to survive. Her mother died in 1929 when she was only 14 years old, an event that has had a profound impact on her up to the present. Sobol describes Passover in her youth as an occasion marked by poverty; the family was so poor that they would sometimes not even have matzo, eating only potatoes during the holiday. Her father would lead the seyder (seder), and different guests would sing the Four Questions. Special Passover dishes were kept in the attic. Sobol also recalls various folk remedies against the evil eye as well as culinary traditions associated with Chanukah, Purim and shabes (the Sabbath). She relates how there was a shoykhet (ritual slaughterer) in Mohyliv-Podil’s’kyy even in post-war Soviet times. Her husband would butcher chickens himself once there was no shoykhet, even though he did not exactly properly know how. To this day, Sobol lights Sabbath candles and speaks to G-d in Yiddish, praying for a good, healthy week. Sobol also talks about prewar Jewish life in Mohyliv-Podil’s’kyy and how even the non-Jews spoke Yiddish. Her husband did not know any Russian when they got married as he was from Bukovina. As her husband lost his entire family during the war, he and Sobol moved into her father’s and step-mother’s house. After receiving a formal education in Yiddish and Russian schools, Sobol worked as a nurse. She remarks about how her husband spoke a different dialect of Yiddish, and grew up in a shtetl where a giter yid [lit. “Good Jew”, or holy man] lived. Sobol briefly speaks about Yiddish theatres visiting Mohyliv-Podil’s’kyy before the war. The interviewee also relates her own wartime experiences in a camp, as well as those of richer people who bought their way out of danger from the Romanians. Ethnic Ukrainians sometimes helped the Jews in these camps. [00:37:07] The camera then cuts to a different time in the same interview, wherein Sobol discusses different curses and sayings in Yiddish. [00:38:38] The camera then cuts to a different time in the same interview, wherein Sobol discusses her own post-war wedding, which took place with a rabbi and chuppah in her home, as they were unable to have the ceremony in the synagogue. Sobol also tells various stories about her husband, and shares her medical worries for herself and her son, as well as different war stories. In the last moment of the interview, Sobol takes the team into her bedroom to show them a book in which her husband’s birthplace is mentioned.
Cities and towns mentioned on this tape: Mohyliv-Podil’s’kyy, Kozenits, Chernivtsi.

00:00:00 Personal information and family
00:05:03 The Great Hunger 1932/33
00:06:57 Early childhood memories and holiday celebration including food customs
00:14:43 Jewish life and food customs after the war
00:17:12 Family and life today
00:18:40 Life before the war and religious customs after the war
00:23:23 Life and work after the war
00:25:20 Early childhood memories and literature
00:28:38 Family and husband
00:31:16 Jewish culture before the war and religious life
00:37:07 Her husband and wedding customs in 1944
00:52:24 Concluding the interview
00:54:41 End of recording.