Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Soviet Yiddish Schools

Efim (Chaim) Rubin (born 1922) was interviewed in Uman in 2002, along with his cousin, Matvei (Motl) Rubin (born 1928). Both men grew up in Buki, Ukraine. In this clip, Efim recalls his education: he went to a Soviet Yiddish-language school for four years and completed his education (10 grades in all) at a Ukrainian school. The Yiddish schools were meant to be "national in form and socialist in content", utilizing the Yiddish language to promote sovietization and anti-religious propaganda.

Efim mentions that despite his advanced age, he still remembers how to read and write in Yiddish the way he was taught in the school. Although it is difficult to see in this segment, Efim spells two Yiddish words, "shobes" [Sabbath] and "khover" [friend] using Soviet orthography. Traditionally, words of Hebrew origin are spelled in Yiddish the same way they are in Hebrew, thus ‏שבת and חבֿר. In Soviet orthography, however, which deemphasized the Hebrew element in accordance with anti-religious policies, words of Hebrew origin were "naturalized", or spelled phonetically, as seen here with Efim's שאָבעס and כאָװער.

--Asya Vaisman

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