Interviewee: Anna Schwartzman
Title: Yankel and Molka Barenboim
Place and Date: Kishinev, Moldova - 1910
This is a picture of my parents, Yankel and Molka Barenboim. The photo was taken in Kishinev in 1910.
My father was born in a Moldovan village in the 1880s. He had one brother and seven sisters. Five sisters lived in Kishinev, and I knew them and their families. The family was very poor. He used to say that the children often went to bed hungry. Their mother was always concerned with feeding such a large family, she worked around the house unstintingly. Clothes were passed from the older kids to the younger ones. The biggest problem were shoes: in the summer everyone walked barefoot, and in the winter children often stayed in because they all had to share one pair of boots.
My father and his brother attended cheder. In the winter they had to take turns, again, due to the shortage of footwear. The children learned how to make an imitation of a bast-shoe from the stem of a corn plant. Needless to say that these shoes didn't keep them warm, but it was possible to wrap ones feet in some rags first and then put on these pseudo-shoes.
Neither my father nor his sisters wanted to spend their entire lives in poverty in a small Moldovan village. The children grew up and, one by one, they left for the capital of Moldova, Kishinev, in search of a better life. My father left, too. He had no education. He found a job as a construction worker and rented a small place to live.
My mother was born in 1889 in a small village in Podolskaya Province. That part of Ukraine borders with Moldova. Her Romanian was poor, and she preferred to speak Russian. I don't know how my parents met because they never talked about it. They got married in Kishinev in 1909. They had a traditional Jewish wedding with a chuppah. My parents were religious, just as their parents were.
My parents rented their first apartment. I remember that apartment. Our family lived there until 1932. There was a large courtyard with a flowerbed in the middle. There were a few separate small houses in the courtyard. They all belonged to a single owner, a middle-aged Jew, who rented them out. Each house had two rooms, a kitchen and a vestibule. There was no bathtub and no toilet. We had no running water. Water was brought in from a well and stored in a large barrel, which stood in the kitchen. We bathed in the kitchen, in a large galvanized trough. The water was heated in a samovar and poured into the trough. The toilet was in the yard.
Interviewee: Dora Slobodianskaya
Title: Dora Slobodianskaya's parents Wolf and Golda Melman
Place and Date: Faleshty, Moldova - 1924
This is the wedding picture of my parents Wolf Melman and Golda Melman [nee Shnaiderman]. The photo was taken in Faleshty in 1924.
My father met my mother when he became an apprentice to my mother's father. After finishing cheder at the age of 11 my father studied to become a fur specialist. His tutor, Shloime Shnaiderman, lived in the same neighborhood. He was my mother's father. My mother was 7 years old then. When they grew up they fell in love with one another. Grandfather Shloime gave his consent to their marriage. They got married in 1924 when my mother was 19 and my father 23 years old. They had a traditional Jewish wedding with a chuppah. Two years after the wedding my father bought a house from a Jewish family that moved to Argentina. The house was in the main street of town. When my father bought the house he quit his job in my grandfather's shop and opened his own leather shop. He purchased black and gray sheep and lambskin from farmers in the neighboring villages. He put sheepskin in a tanning solution that had a terrible smell. Afterwards the sheepskins were dried in the yard. When they were dry my father removed the inner layer of the leather and treated the skins with a fur polishing solution. Then they were placed in a big drum with sawdust. It had to be rolled with a handle for 12 hours before the sheepskins were ready for further handling. They were brushed and then my father made hats, collars and coats. He had a special sewing machine for leather. After the harvest in fall Moldavians came to buy hats from my father. My father had two to three apprentices. They learned at his place for a couple of years and after their apprenticeship my father paid them for their work.
Jews settled down in central parts of towns because they were tradesmen and craftsmen in their majority and had more business opportunities and clients, if they lived close to the center. Land was expensive and the cost of a house was based on the width of the façade of the house. Therefore, Jews made facades of their houses narrow to reduce the cost. Our house was like this - built with its narrow façade facing the street and advancing into the backyard with its wide part. The rooms were in a row and accessible from a long hallway. The first and biggest room was my father's shop. The next one was the dining room, then came the kitchen, my parents' bedroom, a nursery room and a living room. There was a door to the backyard leading onto a verandah annexed to the back of the house. There was a cellar where my mother stored eggplants, carrots and parsley during winter. She also kept tinned vegetables and fruit. There was a big shed in the backyard of the house. My father bought wheat in fall and kept it in this shed. There was a toilet behind the shed. We had several fruit trees in the backyard. There was a fence around the house and a gate with a lock.
Interviewee: Naum Balan
Title: Naum Balan and his family
Place and Date: Tiraspol, Moldova - 1929
This is my family and I. The photo was taken in Tiraspol in 1929, after my parents and moved there. First row from left: my paternal grandfather Michael Balan, my brother Abram, my brother Nathan, my maternal grandmother Leya Korsunskaya, nee Lev. Second row from left: my mother Fira Balan, nee Korsunskaya, I, and my father Mark Balan.
My maternal grandmother Leya was born in Bobrinets town, Elisavetgrad district, Kherson region in 1870. After they got married my grandparents lived in their own house in Novoukrainka. I don't remember this house. My parents and I went to Novoukrainka, but I was too small to remember any details. My mother told me that my grandparents were very religious. They strictly followed the kashrut and had their poultry slaughtered by a shochet. Their four children were raised religiously. They observed the Jewish traditions and rituals. They spoke Yiddish in the family. In 1922, after the Civil War, Soviet authorities arrested my grandfather for some reason. Grandfather Gersh never returned home and we don't know how he died. The authorities didn't offer any explanation of what had happened.
After my grandfather was arrested and gone, my grandmother Leya lived in Novoukrainka alone as all her children had left their parents' home by then. In 1934 the older children, Godia and Sonia, convinced her to move to Australia where they lived. She lived in her son Godia's house. In 1936 my grandmother died accidentally: she drowned in the bathroom. She probably felt ill, but there was nobody around and she drowned. This happened when she was visiting her daughter Sonia. Grandmother Leya was buried in Perth, Australia.
My parents got married in Mostovoye in 1919. I don't know what kind of wedding they had, but knowing my grandfather Michael's religiosity, I would think they had a traditional Jewish wedding. After the wedding the newly-weds spent some time with my mother's parents in Novoukrainka. After a few months, in 1920, the newly-weds moved to Odessa. At first they lived on Chicherin Street in the center of the town, but it turned out to be very cold and they moved to another apartment in Nezhynskaya Street in the same part of the town. My brother Nathan was born in December 1922, Abram followed in 1925 and I was born in 1928. I looked like a girl so much that my mother called me 'meydele' [little girl in Yiddish]. In 1929 my parents moved to Tiraspol where life was not so expensive. My brother Aron was born there in 1930. He died of scarlet fever when he was one and a half years old.
Interviewee: Sarra Shpitalnik
Title: Sarra Shpitalnik with her parents Beila Molchanskaya and Shlomo Molchanskiy
Place and Date: Kishinev, Moldova - 1929
This is me with my parents Beila and Shlomo Molchanskiy. This photo was taken in Kishinev in 1929. Every summer we rented a dacha in the suburb of Kishinev - Malaya Malina. It was customary to rent a room at a dacha.
When I was born in 1928, my parents rented an apartment in the house across the street from where my grandmother lived on the corner of Tsyrelson Lane and Oktavian Gog Street. This house belonged to former Russian aristocrats: the Meche-Nikolaevichs. Maria Petrovna Meche-Nikolaevich liked our family, and I was her favorite. She had two good-for-nothing sons. Though I was only three years old, I remember how adults said that one was gay and the other one a card gambler. To cut a long story short, they brought their mother to bankruptcy. Fleshel, a Jewish man, bought this house and the annex in the yard. We lived there till I turned seven.
Those were happy years. There was a neglected garden near the house where our neighbors' children and I played Indians and made a great wigwam in the bushes. There was also beautiful 'bull-de-neige' in the garden very rare in Kishinev. In the backyard there was a big scary dog on the chain. When I was two I once wandered there alone and the dog bit me on my cheek. My mother and her friend, who also rented a part of the house, soaked my cheek with a wet towel while they waited for the doctor. The doctor was everybody's favorite in Kishinev, Doctor Slissel, he said, 'Great that you didn't call for me at once, or I would have seamed the injury and she would have a scar, but now it will heal all right'. My father always tried to raise me as a brave child. Since the doctors told my mother that she could have no more children, he saw in me all of his unborn children: he loved children. For example, he put me on a two-wheel bicycle in my early childhood. By the way, I never learned to ride a bicycle. Well, my father wanted me to get rid of this fear of the dog and about a year later he took me to the back yard: 'Don't fear this dog, it's a good dog and you might have just slipped on the chain.' Well, then the dog almost tore off my father's lip and this time the doctor had to seam it.
Interviewee: Dora Slobodianskaya
Title: Dora Slobodianskaya's uncles Shmil Shnaiderman and Shaya Fishman and their friends
Place and Date: Faleshty, Moldova - 1930s
This is a picture of my uncles and their friends. Standing second from right is Shmil Shnaiderman, my mother's brother, and standing on the very right is Shaya Fishman, the future husband of my mother's sister, Sheindl Shnaiderman. The photo was taken in Faleshty in the 1930s.
My maternal grandparents, Shloime and Perl Shnaiderman, had seven children, five daughters and two sons. My mother's sister Sheindl was born in 1913, and her brother Shmil in 1918. The boys studied at cheder, the daughters were educated at home. They had a teacher from cheder who taught them Hebrew, Yiddish, the Torah and Talmud, history, literature and mathematics. They spoke Yiddish at home.
Shmil finished a course for tractor drivers and began to work in a tractor crew. He was single. Shmil went to a collective farm before the war. He was captured by the Germans, and we never heard from him again. He must have perished in captivity.
Sheindl got married to Shaya Fishman in the winter of 1939. They had a chuppah installed in the synagogue. The war began on 22nd June 1941. On Saturday night we were woken by the sound of distant explosions. We thought that this was another military training, which became a routine during the Soviet regime, but in the morning we heard that the war had started and that German and Romanian troops occupied Faleshty. We became captives.
At the end of June the Germans ordered all Jews in Faleshty to come to the main square. Communists and members of their families were taken away and shot. My grandfather Shloime, Aunt Sheindl and her one-year-old daughter Esther, my mother's pregnant sister Nehama, her husband Shopse and his mother, Rivke-Surah Tirerman, were shot that day. About 200 people were killed that day. The rest of us were taken to the ghetto.
Aunt Sheindl's husband survived. In the middle of June 1941 he went to see his relatives in Beltsy. He was arrested by the Romanians there but pretended he was Georgian and they released him. He moved to Balta, Odessa region, and worked for a Romanian owner of a fur shop until the end of 1944. In 1944 he volunteered to go to the front to take revenge for his family. He was killed in action near Budapest.
Interviewee: Shlima Goldstein
Title: Inmates of the Jewish girls' orphanage in Kishinev
Place and Date: Kishinev, Moldova - 1930s
This is a group photograph of the inmates of the Jewish girls' orphanage in Kishinev. This photo was taken in the 1930s. The first on the right is Helena Babich, the patroness of the orphanage, beside her is director Tsylia Mikhailovna and nurse Pogrebinskaya. I am the second from the right in the 1st row, my sister Sarah (Alexandra) is the 4th from the left in the 2nd row.
After my father died in 1930 my mother didn't recover for a long time. However, she had three kids and she had to provide for us. We were starving and my mother had to send all three of us to an orphanage. My brother Grigoriy was sent to an orphanage for boys and my sister and I went to an orphanage for girls in Kishinev.
The orphanage was established in a two-storied house. There were two bedrooms on the first floor, one for older girls and one for small kids. There was a big dining and living room on the first floor where we had meals, played and where older girls did their homework. We wore black uniform robes with white collars and had them washed once a week. We also had a shower once a week in the orphanage. Once a month we went to a public bath. In the bath our clothes were treated to protect them from lice while we were taking a bath. Once, I stayed in the bath until late and was late for dinner. The cook gave me the leftover soup: it was thick, with noodles, beans and the meat and I ate to my heart's content and remembered this soup for a long time thinking how lucky I had been.
We didn't have sufficient food in the orphanage. We mainly had cooked cereals like porridge, pearl barley, millet, and at lunch we had thin soup with a slice of bread, but with no butter or oil, this was low calorie food, and we got little of it, we rarely had meat or fish - only on holidays. I remember I always dreamt of having as much food as I wanted, and the other girls felt the same. We had meals at set hours and even had drinks at the same time. We lined up to take a sip from one mug. We used to cling to the cup to drink water, but then they grabbed it from you to give it to another girl. In the afternoon we were supposed to take a nap, but we weren't allowed to go to the bedroom and had to lie down wherever we could manage.
Interviewee: Shlima Goldstein
Title: Polia Gersh next to her father's grave in the Jewish cemetery in Kishinev
Place and Date: Kishinev, Moldova - 1931
This is my mother Polia Gersh, photographed by my father's grave in the Jewish cemetery in Kishinev, one year after he died in 1931. This cemetery was ruined by the bombing during the Great Patriotic War.
My mother was a beautiful girl. Her thick hair that she wore in plaits, was particularly attractive. Matchmakers didn't take a long time to marry her. My mother and my father's families were rather wealthy and there were no problems with agreeing about the wedding. The wedding was traditional Jewish and took place in the most beautiful synagogue in town, with a chuppah, with a klezmer band and the tables were covered with traditional Jewish food.
I guess everything nice and good ended with my mother's wedding. She and my father settled down in a small apartment on Alexeyevskaya Street. Nine months later, in 1925, my older sister named Sarah, came into this world. In 1926, my father was recruited to the Romanian army, but he didn't serve there for long: doctors discovered that he had tuberculosis and he was demobilized. When my father returned home, my mother was glad at first, but then, when he became bed-ridden, our family lived the hardest years of our life. In 1927, my brother, called Ruvim after my grandfather, was born. After the Great Patriotic War my brother changed his name to the Russian name of Grigoriy. By that time my mother, my father and the children moved in with my widowed grandmother. On 16th February 1930 my father died. On 17th February 1930, the day after he died, I, Shlima Dvoira Gersh, was born.
After my father died my mother didn't recover for a long time. However, she had three kids and she had to provide for us. My grandmother worked hard selling buns and rolls, and doing her daily work, but she couldn't provide for all of us. My father's relatives incited my aunt, Sima, to tell us that it was my mother's fault that my father had died because she hadn't taken good care of him. She said that they weren't going to support us and that their kin ended with my father's death. Only rarely did they allow my mother and us to go visit them. We were starving and my mother had to send all three of us to an orphanage. My brother was sent to an orphanage for boys and I went to an orphanage for girls in Kishinev.
Interviewee: Zakhar Benderskiy
Title: Zakhar Benderskiy with his friends
Place and Date: Kishinev, Moldova - 1934
This is a photo of my friends and me in Kishinev on New Year's Day 1934. I sent this picture to my sister Frima in Israel. I had just returned from the army. I am 1st from right in the lower row. In the center is my friend Yakov Golub. The 2nd from right in the upper row is my friend Iosif Shwartz. My wife, daughter and I lived in his apartment after the war when we returned to Kishinev from evacuation.
I finished school in 1932. I was 20 years old. I went to the army for one year. After the army I entered Commercial Academy in Bucharest. Since I was an officer who had completed service in the army, I was admitted without exams. I had to pay for my studies. I attended classes in the morning and worked in the afternoon. I worked at an insurance company. Later I got a job as a waiter in a restaurant and worked night shifts. I was a good employee and promoted to administrator soon. I was responsible for the waiters and the dance group at the restaurant. This was a good job and paid well. But I had to leave this restaurant after an incident.
This incident happened in 1938. The fascists were in power in Germany, and the Romanian fascists became more insolent because they felt that they had a backup. Once there was a fight in the restaurant. It turned out that members of a fascist organization, the Iron Guard, were sitting at one table, and members of another fascist, anti-Semitic organization, the Cuzist, at another table. They started a fight. I called the police, and they took the fighters to their office. They called me to the police station to testify. I told the commissar about the fight. Then one of the suspects, who wore a jacket of a military cut and boots, said that his name was Zelea Codreanu. Everybody in the room turned pale when he said his name. He was the leader of the Iron Guard. I got very scared and left the police office. On the next day I told the owner of the restaurant about the incident, but he replied that there had been no incident whatsoever. I understood that the police had hushed up this case and feared that the Iron Guard would be looking for an opportunity to take their revenge. I had to leave the restaurant. I left before they could fire me. It didn't make my life easier, but it probably helped me save my life.
I graduated from the Commercial Academy in 1938 and got married. My co-student introduced me to my future wife, Jeannette Duvidesku, a Romanian Jew. She was called Hana in Kishinev. She was born to the family of a Jewish tradesman in Bucharest in 1911. Jeannette only spoke Yiddish and Romanian. It was okay with me - I was fluent in both languages. We had a traditional Jewish wedding with a chuppah in Bucharest. It was no problem at that time. The synagogues were open and there were rabbis there. We couldn't imagine that it would be over so soon. There was a rabbi from the big synagogue in Bucharest. The synagogue issued the ketubbah to us. We lived with my wife's family in the beginning. I met people in Bucharest and soon they began to address me to issue annual reports for them or conduct an audit. We purchased an apartment and good furniture. I had several permanent customers, and my wife and I were quite well off. Jeannette was a housewife. We went to the synagogue on holidays and celebrated Sabbath and Jewish holidays quite like our parents did.
Interviewee: Isaac Rozenfain
Title: Isaac Rozenfain at a party with his co-students
Place and Date: Kishinev, Moldova - 1939
This is me (2nd from the left in the upper row), at a party after finishing the 3rd year of the construction technical school, with my co-students Semyon Rapoport (1st from the left), Anatoliy Bregman (1st from the right), Mikhail Fierman (on the top). This photo was taken in Kishinev in 1939.
After successfully finishing elementary school I entered the Aleku Russo boys' gymnasium. I had moderate success at the gymnasium. One afternoon, when I was supposed to be in class, I was noticed by a gymnasium tutor, who was to watch over the students. I was walking with a girl and I was smoking a cigarette. I was 15 or 16 years. I was immediately expelled from the gymnasium and my father's attempts to restore me there failed. The family council decided that I should go to a technical school.
The family council decided that I should go to a technical school. I entered the construction technical school on the corner of Zhukovskaya and Lyovskaya Streets. My sad experience changed my attitude towards my studies and I became one of the best students in the technical school. This school was owned by a priest. Architect Merz, a German, was the best teacher. The recruitment age to the Romanian army was 20 and I didn't have to go to the army before 1940. I was born the same year as the son of Karl II, Mihay. This was supposed to release me from the army service, and also, I guess the month and the date had to coincide. I also remember the rumors that Mihay wounded his father's lover and that she was a Jew. The situation for Jews got much worse then. I remember the New Year [Christian] celebration when Antonescu was the ruler. There was the threat of pogroms and the celebration was very quiet. I don't know how serious this threat really was, but the feeling of fear prevailed. I don't remember whether they introduced any anti-Jewish laws in Romania at that time, but there was this kind of spirit in the air.
Perhaps for this reason we welcomed the Soviet forces, entering the town on 29th June 1940. People were waiting for them all night long. I stood on the corner of Armianskaya and Alexandrovskaya Streets. There were crowds of people around. At 4am the first tanks entered the town. The tank men stopped their tanks and came out hugging people. When the Soviet rule was established, teaching at the technical school continued, only the priest stopped being its owner. Our teachers stayed. They knew Russian very well and started teaching us in Russian. A few other boys and I repaired two rooms in a building to house the district Komsomol committee. We plastered and whitewashed the walls. I joined the Komsomol sincerely and with all my heart. I liked the meetings, discussions and Subbotniks, when we planted trees.
Interviewee: Elka Roizman
Title: Elka Roizman with her classmates
Place and Date: Yedintsy, Moldova - 1946
This is a picture of me, standing on the left, as a pupil of the 8th grade at the Russian secondary school in Yedintsy and my classmates. We were photographed on 1st September 1946, the beginning of the academic year. The director of the school, who wears a military shirt, is sitting in the center.
In March 1944 we were liberated by the Soviet army. I remember the first Soviet tank entering the village. The Romanians had left a day before. We were so happy and couldn't stop crying and kissing the Soviet soldiers that got out of the tank. I remember a young soldier who gave my brother and me a piece of bread. We went back home, but what we saw in the village when we returned was even more horrific than what we had faced in the ghetto.
Children who had finished three classes before the war went to the 6th grade. I was too old to go to the 4th or 5th grade. I had taught my brother to read and write in Yiddish and Moldavian in the ghetto and he could go to the 3rd grade after the war. We went to a Russian secondary school even though we didn't know Russian. There was a Russian and a Moldavian school in Yedintsy. Most of the Jewish children went to the Russian school because Russian was the state language. My classmates were children of militaries from the frontier military unit based in Yedintsy. We didn't know one single Russian letter or word, and our teachers didn't know Moldavian. We didn't understand most of what they told us, but we tried hard and slowly learned Russian. It took me about a year to improve my Russian. .
I wanted to continue my education. My mother's sister Riva lived in Chernovtsy where I could go to a higher secondary school. In 1948 life began to change in Chernovtsy. The Jewish school and Jewish theater were closed and Jewish writers, actors, musicians, diplomats and scientists were persecuted. They were declared to be cosmopolitans. They were fired and sent into exile and many of them were physically tortured. It was hidden fascism of the Soviet regime, but we only realized that much later.
Interviewee: Zlata Tkach
Title: Zlata Tkach with her husband Yefim Tkach and his friends
Place and Date: Kishinev, Moldova - 1980
This is me with my husband Yefim Tkach (2nd from the left) and his friends. This photo was taken in Kishinev in 1948. Polonskiy, the first from the left, lives in Israel. Naum Lovznik, the first from the right, has died. We hurried to the cinema, I believe, and one of our friends photographed us in the street.
I met my husband, when I was a third year student, in 1949. In summer every week in the Alexandrovskiy garden the conductor of the Kishinev Philharmonic, Boris Milutin, and the Philharmonic orchestra, gave symphonic concerts. They were very popular in the town, and we, students never missed one of their concerts. I paid attention to one guy during a concert. He was different and had such a spiritual face, when the orchestra played Mozart. I liked him and he also paid attention to me. His name was Yefim Tkach and he studied in the flute class at the Conservatory.
Yefim and I got married two years after we met, on 4th December 1949. We just registered our marriage and our closest relatives got together at home. I didn't have a veil or a white gown. We had a modest dinner. We resided in the annex with a window. In 1952, I finished the Conservatory and got a mandatory job assignment  to teach in a music school. I worked there for a few years. I inherited my father's pedagogical talent. I still like teaching. In 1953, our son Lyova was born. It was hard to have no comforts at home, but my mother helped me a lot. However, I was so full of energy that at night we would build the walls to make a two-room apartment where our shed was. Yefim was very handy and did the water piping, made a toilet, and even steam heating. We also fenced a small yard and lived there till 1970.
Interviewee: Elka Roizman
Title: Elka Roizman's husband Olter Roizman with his comrades
Place and Date: Kaushany, Moldova - 1950
This is a picture of my husband, Olter Roizman, on the very right, during his service in the army and his fellow comrades in Kaushany in 1950. They are wearing Soviet military uniforms.
When I was in my final year at the Pedagogical Institute I met my future husband, Olter Roizman. He was born in the Moldavian village of Brichany in 1930. His family was very poor. His father, Shymon Roizman, was a shoemaker and his mother, Molka Roizman, was a housewife raising four children. Olter's two younger sisters perished in the ghetto in Transnistria, and his father perished at the front. His mother and older sister survived in the ghetto, but his mother was exhausted after the ghetto and died in 1946. His sister lived in Storozhynets. After his service in the army Olter came to Storozhenets to look for a job. He had a lower secondary education and failed to find work. He decided to go to Chernovtsy where he had acquaintances. They were my aunt's neighbors and gave him accommodation. Before my departure for Beltsy I had a picture of my aunt, her daughter and me taken and left this picture with my aunt. Olter mentioned to our neighbor that he would marry a nice girl if he met one. This neighbor saw a picture of me and asked my aunt if she could introduce her to Olter. He visited my aunt and saw my picture. Later I received a letter from my aunt's daughter saying that a young man wanted to meet me.
I visited them on New Year's Eve in 1953 and Olter and I met for the first time. We had been talking for a while when the neighbor's daughter came in to invite us to her engagement party. This neighbor lived on the first floor. We had lemonade and cookies and stayed there until morning. We had a lot of fun. Olter's acquaintances, who knew me fairly well, told him that we weren't a good match and that he needed to find a more common girl, but Olter was determined to marry me. He proposed to me. Of course, I wanted my husband to be an educated man, but Olter was reliable, and I understood that he would be able to provide for me.
We got married in 1954. We had a wedding party at my parents' home in Yedintsy. There were 60 guests at the party. We had a chuppah and there was a rabbi from the synagogue. He conducted the wedding ritual, and then we sipped wine from a wine glass. Afterwards we broke the glass according to the tradition. Of course, the authorities didn't approve of worship, but Yedintsy was a small town, far from Chernovtsy where we lived and worked. Old traditions and rules were still in force in the town and the authorities were loyal in that regard. It wouldn't have been possible to have such a wedding arranged in Chernovtsy - we would have been reprimanded or even fired.
Interviewee: Liana Degtiar with her friend Ira Treiger
Title: Liana Degtiar
Place and Date: Soroki, Moldova - 1954
This is me (at the bottom), with my friend Ira Treiger. This photo was taken in Soroki in 1954. I spent my vacation in Soroki after finishing my third year at university.
I went to the fourth grade in Soroki. Our teacher, Yelena Fyodorovna, was very good to us. All the children liked her. I made friends with Ira Treiger. Before 1940 her family also lived in Bucharest. Ira's grandmother lived near Soroki. In 1940 her family went to Ira's grandmother on vacation. Ira's aunt and her adoptive daughter went with them. When the Soviet troops came to Bessarabia and closed the border, they stayed in Soroki. The aunt's husband, a Hungarian, stayed in Romania. Ira's aunt was a communist and had even been taken to camps for her underground activities. When the Great Patriotic War began, Ira's father was recruited to the front. Ira, her mother and grandmother evacuated to Russia, I've forgotten the place. Her mother had tuberculosis and died. Ira's father perished at the front. Ira was raised by her aunt. Ira and I went to a music school, when we were in the fourth grade. We attended piano classes. In the ninth grade I stopped going to the music school. I had to prepare for college.
I finished school with a silver medal in 1951. I had a '4' [out of 5] in Russian composition. I entered the Faculty of Physics of Kishinev University. School graduates having medals didn't have to take the entrance exams. My friend Ira Treiger failed to enter the university. She entered the Faculty of Mathematics of the Teachers' Training College.
We had four lectures every day and laboratory classes two or three times a week. We were even a little jealous about the philologists and historians: those 'chatter boxes' easily got '5' marks in their exams. However, we still managed to go to the cinema or theater. I liked classical music and attended all the concerts at the philharmonic. I never missed one premiere in the theaters in Kishinev. I also attended the performances where Anna Mikhailovna sang. There was a choir and theatrical group at the theater, but I didn't go there. Our boys were fond of football. They went to all the football games at the republican stadium near our dormitory. At times they stood in queues for nights to get tickets. If they failed to get tickets they came to our dormitory to watch the matches from the windows or sitting on the roof. We had parties at the university and often got together. When we were senior students we arranged parties with students from Odessa and Lvov Universities. I always spent my vacations in Soroki. I had friends there and we went to the Dnestr in summer.
I graduated from the university in 1956, and received a diploma with honors.
Interviewee: Liana Degtiar
Title: Liana Degtiar and her husband Ivan Barbul in the registry office
Place and Date: Kishinev, Moldova - 1962
This is me and my husband Ivan Barbul in the registry office - this was our wedding. The photo was taken in Kishinev in 1962.
My husband was born into a religious Jewish family in Rezina in 1929. His name was Isaac Rybakov then. During the war, Ivan's parents and four younger children were taken at first to Odessa. They couldn't evacuate from there. Ivan's parents, Betia, Riva and Shmil, perished in the camp in Bogdanovka. Isaac managed to escape from Bogdanovka and returned to the ghetto in Odessa. He escaped several times from the spots of mass shootings. He took hiding under various names, worked as a shepherd in the Ukrainian village of Gandrabury, Ananiev district, Odessa region. In 1943 Ivan Ilich Barbul, a local villager, and his wife Agafia adopted him. They gave him their family name and named him Ivan. In 1944, immediately after Odessa was liberated, Ivan's adoptive father was recruited to the Soviet army. He perished near Iasi. Ivan stayed in Gandrabury and finished secondary school. Ivan graduated from the Faculty of Mathematics of Kishinev Pedagogical College. He worked as a mathematics teacher in the village of Raspopeny and later became director of a school.
We met and began to correspond. When Ivan visited Kishinev we spent time together. In summer 1961 we took a boat from Odessa to the Crimea. We arrived at Yalta and then traveled all over the Crimea. We stayed in Gurzuf, took two days climbing mountains, walked to Alushta and went to Yevpatoria. In May 1962 we got married. We had a civil ceremony in the registry office. My colleagues came to congratulate me. They gave us a vacuum cleaner for our wedding. They came to the registry office with this vacuum cleaner in a huge box. I didn't want a big wedding. Even my parents didn't come on this day. We went home from the registry office and made a 'bedlam' there: we laid the table, there was a lot of noise, it was fun. During the following week our relatives and older acquaintances came to congratulate us. Then we went to Soroki where my parents invited their acquaintances.
Interviewee: Zlata Tkach
Title: Zlata Tkach and her husband Yefim Tkach with a group of Soviet composers
Place and Date: Kishinev, Moldova - 1964
This is me and my husband Yefim Tkach with a group of Soviet composers. This photo was taken in Kishinev in the 1964. From left to right: I, Peyko, Dmitriy Shostakovich, my husband, Arkadiy Ostrovskiy. This photograph was taken during a decade of the Russian Soviet music in Kishinev, before a concert, at the entrance to the Philharmonic.
My husband and I lived for 52 years together, longer than a golden jubilee. I think I'm a happy woman who had a happy family life. I married for love, we lived in harmony and we were united by profession. Yefim was a smart and wise man, talented in his field, and he cared about my success. Yefim taught in the music school for many years and later worked in the Philharmonic. He lectured on the history of Moldovan music in the Kishinev College of Arts. He specialized in Moldovan music, wrote many articles for the press, presented regular radio programs in Moldovan that he knew well. He had a strong will and had a goal to polish the Moldovan language to perfection. He understood that this was the only way for him to describe the cultural life of Moldova in every detail.
In 1967 I wrote my first opera for children: 'A nanny goat and three kids'. It was staged in our Opera Theater. I joined the Association of Composers of Moldova. The chairman of our union was Vasiliy Georgievich Zagorskiy, a student of Lev Gurov. He was Russian, born in Bessarabia and he knew Romanian well. He was a nice person. It was to his credit that there was no anti-Semitism in the Association of Composers. He created a very good creative atmosphere. There were many Jewish composers: Shapiro, Aranov, Fedov, Mooler. There were hardly any Moldovan composers. Since we lived in a very small apartment, I enjoyed trips to the House of Creativity of Composers, where I could forget about everyday routines and dedicate myself to work. We communicated with composers all over the Soviet Union at congresses of composers. I traveled a lot to hear the works by Georgian, Armenian, Moscow and Kiev composers. Soviet composers and performers arrived in Kishinev. I was fortunate to meet Dmitriy Shostakovich at a meeting in the 1960s. He wasn't only a genius, but also, a wonderful, humble, and intelligent person.
Interviewee: Liana Degtiar
Title: Liana Degtiar with her son Alexandr Barbul and her colleagues at a 1st May parade
Place and Date: Kishinev, Moldova - 1970
This is me with my son Alexandr Barbul and my colleagues at the parade on 1st May. The photo was taken in Kishinev in 1970. From left to right: Lilia Gofrina, Nelia Spivak, Lida Mikhailovna Abadjer, Liana Degtiar, Magda Reiburd and her friend. First row: Nelia Spivak's daughter, my son Alexandr Barbul, Alexandr Nilva. This is Lenin Street. The columns formed on the streets to march to the square. We were photographed while waiting for our turn to march on.
When Alexandr turned one year old, my maternity leave was over and I had to go back to work. I sent Alexandr to my mother and returned her fridge. Then Alexandr came back, and the fridge arrived also. So we sent him to and fro with his baby's basin and the fridge until we finally managed to buy a fridge. My parents helped me a lot. Alexandr went to the kindergarten, but he often had angina and had to stay home. Alexandr was very sociable and liked going to the kindergarten. Even on Saturdays, when he didn't have to go there, he still asked whether he could go. We often went to Soroki. Then my mother began to be ill, and I went to Soroki every Saturday. My husband Ivan was studying at the postgraduate school at the Academy of Pedagogical Sciences in Moscow. He received a postgraduate student's salary and I received my salary and in this way we made our living.
I occasionally went to see Ivan in Moscow. In those few days we went to all the art exhibitions and theaters. In 1968, Ivan defended a candidate's dissertation and went to work as a senior scientific employee at the Scientific Research Institute of Pedagogic in Kishinev. I became chief of the laboratory at my institute and started working on my candidate's dissertation. In January 1969 I achieved my candidate's dissertation and was awarded my scientific degree of a candidate of technical sciences. In fall that year Alexandr needed a surgery on his tonsils. Two months later, in December, my second son Boris was born. My parents came to be with me at that time. There were six of us crowded in this room. Once, Alexandr contracted flu in his kindergarten. My mother was so worried that Boris and I might contract it and separated Alexandr with wet towels from us. However, we all got it. A few years later we received a two-bedroom apartment in Ryshkanovka, a new district in Kishinev.
Interviewee: Theodore Magder
Title: Theodore Magder with his wife Asia Magder
Place and Date: Kishinev, Moldova - 1977
This is a picture of my wife Asia Magder (nee Shnirelman) and me. It's an amateur photo taken by a friend of ours, in a street in Kishinev in 1977.
In the early 1970s our son, Victor Magder, decided to move to Israel. At first, my wife, Asia Magder (nee Shnirelman) and I were against his decision, but then we understood we couldn't force him to stay and signed a permission for him to depart. As soon as I had signed this permission, the party committee summoned me, and then there was a meeting. The issue on the agenda was my expulsion from the Party, but they decided that a strict reprimand for failure in the upbringing of my son was sufficient. I understood that, according to the rules and morals of the time, all relatives of those who had moved to Israel were subject to ostracism. By the way, the authorities were loyal to me: they didn't fire me, but just asked where I wanted to work. Therefore, having worked for the TASU (Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union) for 29 years I quit my job there. My wife, who was head of the editor's office of a magazine, was also fired from this position due to our son's departure. She was transferred to an editor's position.
I went to work at the publishing house of the Academy of Sciences, where I worked a few years before I went to work at the 'Tribune', a small and unpopular magazine. Then, the chief engineer of the Moldavhydromash industrial association, which was engaged in the industrial machine building and included three big plants and scientific research institutions, approached me. He offered me to write a book about the association on the occasion of its 100th anniversary. I thought it over and agreed. I visited this enterprise, familiarized myself with documents, and I understood that I couldn't write a proper book from the outside. I quit my work with the magazine and went to work as a laborer at this enterprise. I wrote the book in cooperation with the employees of the plant newspaper. Later the management offered me to establish and become the director of the museum of this enterprise. The museum I established got the status of people's museum and became very popular in Kishinev. We received many national and foreign delegations.
Interviewee: Sarra Shpitalnik
Title: Sarra Shpitalnik, her husband Moisey Shpitalnik and her mother Beila Molchanskaya
Place and Date: Kishinev, Moldova - 1987
This is me, my husband Moisey Shpitalnik and my mother Beila Molchanskaya. This photo was taken in Kishinev in 1987. This was my mother's last photo which had was taken on the 90th birthday of our family friend Zalman Goldstein.
I worked at the Medical College for 34 years as director of the bibliographic department and I also held the position of junior employee translating articles from foreign magazines after work. I was good at foreign languages, and even translated from Dutch. One of my friends in college used to say, 'She knows everything, but Hungarian.' Many lecturers in the college are still very grateful to me: many candidates and doctor dissertations went through my hands. I remember one of them: he suddenly bumped into a medical book in Japanese and somebody told him, 'Well, why don't you talk to Sarra Shpitalnik.' My reputation was working for me.
In 1984 I became a pensioner, but I stayed at work part-time. My mother broke her hip and could only get up from her bed when Moisey and I supported her. She spent most of the time in her room reading and watching television. When perestroika began, my mother watched all information programs, particularly, when Gorbachev spoke. She treated him with great sympathy and when he appeared on the screen, she said, 'It's like one's own father comes into the room.' As for me, I lost my respect for him, when he interrupted Sakharov at the congress of deputies. However, we were enthusiastic about perestroika. There were many interesting publications in the press, something that we could only discuss with our closest friends, and there were books published which had been banned before.
My mother died of cancer in 1989. We buried her in the Doina, in the Jewish sector since the Jewish cemetery had been closed by then.
Interviewee: Sarra Shpitalnik
Title: Sarra Shpitalnik and her husband Moisey Shpitalnik
Place and Date: Kishinev, Moldova - 2001
This is me and my husband Moisey Shpitalnik. This photo was taken in Kishinev in 2001. This is the celebration of memorable photographs.
In 1990 my husband and I decided to move to Israel. We studied Hebrew for half a year. We obtained a visa, when all of a sudden I was overwhelmed with fear. Our friends weren't very encouraging: 'You have no children. You won't have anything to do here. Moisey wouldn't be able to find a job with his occupation, and you wouldn't get any allowances since you've not come of proper age.' This had such an impact on me that when we went to the cemetery to visit the graves of our dear ones, I said, 'Whatever you decide I'm not going.' He said, 'All right, if you don't want to go.' He went back to work though he was a pensioner, and I saw an announcement that our library needed a person who knew Romanian and Yiddish. I went to work there.
When the charity center Hesed Jehuda opened in Kishinev, I went to work there as a volunteer. Before they got their own building they worked in our library partially. They generated the lists of needy Jews, distributed matzah, or clothes. Every month I lecture on Jewish literature for them. Now I'm working on a lecture on Kanovich, a Jewish Lithuanian writer, who lives in Israel now. We've had a club of pensioners in Hesed for ten years and I'm an active member there. In 1995 I celebrated the presentation of my book 'Jews of Moldova' at the library; it's an annotated guide in Romanian. In 2000, its extended and added edition was issued with a resume in English. Here in the library we celebrated my 70th anniversary and my husband and my golden wedding in 2001. Our colleagues asked Moisey to make his outstanding gefilte fish, and it was great. Moisey died two years after this anniversary. I buried him in the Jewish cemetery near my father and bought myself a place there.
Interviewee: Isaac Rozenfain
Title: Isaac Rozenfain in the Jewish town library
Place and Date: Kishinev, Moldova - 2004
This is me in the Jewish town library. This photo was taken in Kishinev in 2004.
My wife died in 1998. After she died, my younger son Oleg, his family and I prepared to move to Israel. We had our documents ready when he died all of a sudden and we stayed, of course. I sold my apartment and moved in with my daughter-in-law and granddaughters to support them. My granddaughters are in Israel now and are doing well. Yekaterina, the older one, lives near Tel Aviv, she's served in Zahal. Olga moved there last summer; she lives in the south and studies. They are single. Another tragedy struck our family in 2002: Galina, Sergei's second oldest daughter, committed suicide. Yelena, the older daughter, is a doctor. She lives in Rybniza with her husband. She is a gastroenterologist. Tatiana, the younger daughter, is finishing the Polytechnic College. I have my older son left: he is everything I have in life. He is an electric engineer and a very skilled specialist. He has worked in the Giprostroy design institute for over 20 years. When he travels on business I cannot wait till he calls.
Unfortunately, I know little about the Jewish life in Kishinev today. However, I'm deputy chairman of the Council of Veterans of the War of the Jewish Cultural Society. We, veterans, have meetings and discussions in a warm house? We usually sit at a table, and the lady of the 'warm house' receives food products for such parties from Hesed. We are close with regards to character and have common interests. I enjoy these meetings. Hesed provides assistance to me like it does to all Jews. I receive food parcels once a month and this is very good for me; this assistance constitutes 20-30 percent of my family budget. Hesed also pays 50 Lei for my medications. I can also have new glasses once a year. I'm very grateful to international Jewish organizations for this.