I am a proud Ukrainian now !
- Yesterday I got at the Consular Office in Haifa my Ukrainian visa at a reduced fee reserved for Ukrainians. Somebody had told me that if I showed them the copy of my Birth Certificate that I had taken out in 1946 before leaving Czernowitz (the language it is written in is of course Ukrainian) I shall be recognized by the Consular Office issuing visas here as Ukrainian. And it worked. But maybe they are not wrong, after all.
It is true that I was born in Czernowitz under Rumanian rule. (It even happened in a maternity hospital called "Sanatoriul Mihai" named after Prince Mihai who later became Mihai the First, King of Rumania) as the offspring of a German-speaking Jewish family. But, as I was told later on, some Ukrainian -speaking nurses were also rushing about in the corridors the hospital.
It is also true that my grandfather and my grandmother spoke Yiddish with each other, and sometimes with their sons and daughters (one of whom was my mother) German. And that their sons and daughters spoke mainly German among themselves. But the little house adjoining my grandfather's was inhabited by a Ukrainian whose name was Vorobczuk, so it is not unreasonable to speculate that Mr. Vorobczuk with his kins spoke Ukrainian. Though you can never know! Proof: Vitsia ! Vitsia was the name of my grandmother's young maid who was also Ukrainian and who was like a daughter in my grandparents' household. Vitsia spoke Yiddish fluently and after she got married to a Jewish boy, a hairdresser by profession, whose language was Yiddish, she went on speaking Yiddish in her newly-established home. So why not Mr. Vorobczuk ?!
When I began to go to school - this happened in Bucharest, the capital of Rumania, where my parents settled when I was one and a half years old - the teaching language was of course Rumanian, and as this was a Jewish school we also began learning Hebrew as a "foreign language".
But the straying away (or estrangement) from the Ukrainian language and culture didn't last long. When, following the Ribbentrop-Molotov treaty, Northern Bukovina with its capital Czernowitz was annexed in the summer of 1940 to the Soviet Union and my parents decided to go back to their native country, I became a citizen, though very young (I was barely eight years old), but a proud citizen of the Soviet Socialist Ukrainian Republic.
On their return to Czernowitz my parents sent me to a Ukrainian school where I had to re-do "Class Two" which I had already completed in Bucharest, but in Rumanian. For many years I wondered why my parents sent me to a Ukrainian school while there was a Jewish school in town with Yiddish as the teaching language, a school that counted among its pupils a good portion (both quantitatively and qualitatively) of the Jewish youth of the town. Till I found the answer when I visited Czernowitz six years ago: the Ukrainian school my parents sent me to was simply not far away from where we lived then, and so I could reach it without my parents having to accompany me. Ironically the impressive building (one of the highlights of the town's architecture and a recognized historical sight) houses now the Rumanian highschool of Czernowitz, destined for the Rumanian minority of the town and its surroundings and named after the Rumanian national poet Mihai Eminescu (another Mihai !)
My studies at the Ukrainian school and my Ukrainian citizenship, however, weren't blessed with longevity; this doesn't mean that my agitated ties with the Ukraine came to a complete standstill. Far from it! But they continued not in a very happy vein, one must say.
As all those who are reading this probably know, not many months after the beginning of Operation "Barbarossa" the Jewish population of Bukovina were deported to the Ukraine, more accurately to that part of the Ukraine between the rivers Dniester and Bug which just a few weeks after the attack on the Soviet Union was occupied by the
Rumanians who annexed the territory to their kingdom and baptized it "Transnistria".
The four war years I passed in the Ukraine, three (almost) in the Rumanian Ukraine, one year, after our liberation by the Red Army and our return to Czernowitz, in the Ukrainian Ukraine. Aye, Czernowitz and the Czernowitzers had again become Ukrainian, Norther Bukovina having again been integrated into the Soviet Union and its population having again become citizens of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.
Back in Czernowitz, however, unlike four years before, I didn't register in a Ukrainian school, but in a Jewish school with Yiddish as the teaching language (incidentally housed in the same historic building which had housed the Ukrainian elementary school to which my parents had decided to send me when we arrived from Bucharest). Now I had to study not less than three foreign languages, in fact four, as for many of the Jewish children of Czernowitz, myself included, Yiddish as a written language was also like a foreign language.The other three were: Ukrainian, Russian and English. But it is rather doubtful if in the curriculum the Ukrainian language figured as a "foreign language".
Yet, this Ukrainian chapter also came to an end pretty soon. What I mean: it was not just the study of Ukrainian that came to an end, but something much bigger - my formal belonging to the Ukrainian people and to the Ukrainian civil community.
And this is how things came to pass.
About a year after the end of the Second World War Iosif Vissarionovitch Stalin decided to let the Jewish citizens of Bukovina go. To go where ? Well, to cross the border to Rumania and to become refugees. His purpose in so doing, according to some, was to increase the number of Jewish refugees who would press against the gates of Eretz Israel, with its Yishuv that was fighting Britain, which in those days was still great. And indeed, not long after the establishment of the State of Israel the writer of these lines became also one of those who pressed against the gates of Eretz Israel, now Medinat Israel. And on the last day of the year 1948 he made his aliah
and became a citizen of the newborn State.
Thus, thought I, the curtain fell for good on my tortuous ties with the Ukraine, with the Ukrainian Culture, with the Ukrainian Language.That's what I naively thought till yesterday, when the Ukrainian Consulate recognized me as Ukrainian and issued my Ukrainian visa at a reduced fee. If this is their verdict I accept it and I publicly announce, with my head high and my back erect: I am a proud Ukrainian !
If no other profit will grow from these reminiscences of mine to their readers, they may at least draw the attention of some of the readers to the possibility of getting their Ukrainian visa at a reduced fee.
I also feel gratified at the thought that these reminiscences might have given, even if somewhat belatedly, a little more substance to my very succint Personal Introduction,
(Message 293 on the list), for which I felt a little guilty.
And I also want to thank the readers for their attention.
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[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- Miriam (Mimi) Taylor <mirtaylo@...>
> I also feel gratified at the thought that these reminiscences might haveDear Alex,
> given, even if somewhat belatedly, a little more substance to my very succint
> Personal Introduction,
> (Message 293 on the list), for which I felt a little guilty.
> And I also want to thank the readers for their attention.
> Alexander Raviv
Thank you for your reminiscences, another piece of the puzzle,
another piece of our childhood. We now know of three of us who after the
war, went to the Yiddish school. Arthur and I were one month in first grade
and one year in second. We too learned Ukrainian as a second language. For
me too, it was the third alphabet.
For those who do not know Czernowitz, the school is located on Strada Stefan
Cel Mare - Siebenburgerstrasse just north of the Volksgarten, but on the
east side of the street. On the 1941 map it is number 52.
I would like to take this opportunity to ask all to send their, or their
families' addresses in Czernowitz to Berti Glaubach <berti@...>
Berti has offered to mark the addresses on a map and bring it to Czernowitz.
A fost o data, c'a nici o data, si daca nu s'a fi fost nu s'a fi povesti.
All the best,