Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Three Generations of Religious Expression (Gaysin, Ukraine)

Mira Murovanaia was born in Nikolaev, Ukraine in 1926. During World War II, she was evacuated to Central Asia. After the war, she moved to Gaysin, Ukraine, where the AHEYM team interviewed her in 2002. Mira worked as a pharmacist in Gaysin for 45 years before retiring in 1990.

In this fascinating clip, Mira describes a broad spectrum of Jewish religious belief, practice, and custom of Soviet Jews before and after World War II. Her mother, though she believed in G-d "in her heart", felt that Jewish practice compromised her status as a Communist Party member.

Mira depicts a different manifestation of Jewishness in her account of holidays at her in-laws'. In this context, Communism and Judaism coexisted, as revolutionary and religious holidays both found their place in the home. Mira's memories of these holidays, however, are not marked by traditional observance, but rather by the foods that her mother-in-law taught her to prepare. The observance of holidays "without praying," as she says, suggests a more secularized form of celebration.

Finally, in her grandson's generation, Mira describes the reclamation of Jewish tradition by youth in the late Soviet period, reflecting the era of increased freedoms and social experimentation.

--Sebastian Schulman and Asya Vaisman


  1. gr8. thx. (subtitles would be nice :))

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