Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Prayer and Schooling in Berdichev

Efim Grigoryevich Skobilitskii was born in 1919 in Berdichev. In this clip from a 2002 interview, he talks about his mother, a Rabbi's daughter, who acted as a "zogerin" in a synagogue. The "zogerin", as Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett and Michael Wex write in the YIVO Encyclopedia, was "a cross between a prompter and cantor, her position was informal, honorific, and unremunerated, though indispensable; she led less literate women in Hebrew and Yiddish prayers in the women’s section of the synagogue." Efim's mother was able to fulfill this role, because she had received a formal Jewish education.

At the end of the clip, Efim talks about the Yiddish-language school that he attended. He notes that there were a number of non-Jews at his school, who, as a result of their education, could speak Yiddish better than Russian. For more on Soviet Yiddish schools, see here.

--Asya Vaisman

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