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 (09-010.48-F) -  Shelf Number: MDV 676

No streaming derivative is available.

Date: May 27, 2008

Participants: Bivson, Sura Melekhovna. Interviewed by Moisei Lemster.

Location recorded: Starokostyantyniv, Khmel'nyts'ka Oblast', Ukraine

Language: Yiddish

Culture Group: Jews, Yiddish-speakers, Ukrainians

 Recording Content:   

The tape is a formal interview with Sura Melekhovna Bivson, born in 1926 in Polonne. (Part 1 of 2. See Accession # 09-010.21-F MDV 477) The team begins with discussing Bivson's family. Her father paved clay floors. The conversation turns to childhood memories, including Passover and Purim celebrations in her native town. Bivson then talks about her Yiddish school education for six grades and the good life they had before the war. Among other things, she discusses food customs and a recipe for gefilte fish.

The conversation turns to religious life before and after the war. In particular, Bivson talks about Sabbath celebrations and Sukkoth before the war. She remembers how her family would spend the night in the sukkah during the festival. She then talks about her life during the war in evacuation in Birobidzhan, where her family moved in with Bivson's older sister; as well as their escape from Polonne in 1941. The conversation briefly turns to her sisters' biography, before Bivson continues to talk about evacuation and suffering hunger. They then talk about the Yiddish press and libraries, as well as prewar Yiddish culture generally. Bivson recalls her visits to the Yiddish theater, applauding until her hands hurt.

The conversation moves to her return to Polonne and work after the war in 1945, where her family only lived for a few years, and about her friends and relatives surviving the war. Her family moved to Starokostyantyniv. She worked as a telephone operator for forty years. They then discuss weddings and religious customs like opshprekhn a git oyg (exorcizing the evil eye), before the conversation turns to life today and cultural terminology. Bivson shares with the team a prayer in Yiddish that she recites when visiting the cemetery. They then discuss Yiddish dialects, in particular comparing Bivson's native Yiddish to the one spoken in Birobidzhan. The interview concludes with a number of dialectological questions from the AHEYM Yiddish questionnaire and Bivson remembering only boys attending the synagogue. Girls would only become aware of a holiday due to extra food.

00:00:00 personal introduction and family.
00:05:37 childhood years and holiday celebration.
00:08:43 Yiddish school and food customs.
00:11:07 religious life.
00:15:00 life during the war.
00:16:15 family and evacuation.
00:17:48 Yiddish press and library.
00:19:43 return after the war.
00:21:41 work and religious life after war in Starokostyantyniv.
00:24:02 life today.
00:25:31 Jewish weddings and religious customs.
00:29:16 life today and Yiddish-speaking non-Jews.
00:34:01 postwar religious life and Yiddish dialects.
00:35:06 dialectology and prewar synagogue service.
01:01:59 End of Recording.