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Opening Hours:

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Thursday: 9:00-20:00 *
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* The Holocaust History Museum, Museum of Holocaust Art, Exhibitions Pavilion and Synagogue are open until 20:00. All other sites close at 17:00.

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An exerpt from Evilevich's book of memoirs

The following is an excerpt from Evilevich's memoir about his meaningful encounter (discussed in the main entry) with a Jewish girl named Judith in 1941 in Ukraine.

 

"… – What's your name?

– Difa.

– Difa?  I have never heard such a name.

– My full name is Iudif [Judith]

She, in turn, asked:

– And what's your name?

– Rudolf, – I said and quickly added:

– But in all my documents, I am Ruvim.

– Ruvim! – the girl exclaimed. – So, you are a Jew too, aren't you?

She perked up noticeably.

 

While traveling together the twenty kilometers (12.5 miles) by military truck to a railway station, Evilevich tried to embrace Iudif's shoulder; she pushed him away, and an awkward situation ensued:

"– Why are you silent, Ruvim? – Her voice took on an apologetic tone. – Do you mind if I refer to you this way?

She sighed and said a few words in Yiddish. Now it was I who felt uncomfortable.

– You know, Judith, I don't understand a word in Yiddish.

– You don't understand! – She was sincerely surprised. – In that case, what kind of a Jew are you?

– A Jew according to my ID papers, – I tried to turn this into a joke but I felt myself blushing.

For the first time in my life, I was truly ashamed of not knowing the language of my own father and mother, my grandparents and great-grandparents.

My confusion was not lost on the girl, and she hurried to my rescue.

– However, – she said – you are not the only young Jew from Russia who does not know his language.... Here, in our Ukraine the situation is quite different.

I grabbed the lifeline that the girl had thrown me.

– In Zhitomir, to which I was assigned after military engineering school, I immediately noticed – I added: – to be honest, I was struck, to see that in the streets, not only adults but also even children were talking loudly to each other in Yiddish, and not a single passerby paid any attention to that. In our Volga region, Jewish families rarely speak Yiddish even at home, and if they do so,  it is only the parents and grandparents. If they do so in the street – you can be sure that some passerby will turn around and even make some remark. The same was true in Leningrad.

– It is very sad, Ruvim, that it is only our names that testify on our nationality, - my interlocutor said.

– And the "item 5" in the ID too, – I said with a grin on my face. – But it is our opinion that the process of the assimilation for the Jews is, so to say, on the agenda; at least in the cities of Russia. …

Once more. She asked a question that probably occupied her very much:

– Are there many mixed marriages in your area?

– Not yet, they are few, but most probably their number would grow with each generation. – And then I added:

– For us, it is part of the notion "internationalism".

My companion said, carefully and seriously:

– Neither we, Jews of Ukraine are alien to internationalism, but we stand for the situation when Jews, as every other national minority, would lose neither their language nor their originality, nor their best traditions. Is there anything reprehensible in that?"

From: Ruven Evilevich, Ia ne damsia tebe, Drakon!" [I Will Not Surrender to You, the Dragon!], Ierusalim, 1995, – Evilevich's memoirs. Pp. 26-27: