Arkadii Gelman was born in 1921 in Kamyanets-Podilskyy. His father, also born in Kamyanets-Podilskyy, was a locksmith and his mother, who was born in Kitaygorod, was a homemaker. He had three siblings: two brothers and one sister. Before the war, he went to a Yiddish school and worked together with his father as a locksmith. He served in the Red Army during the Second World War, and fought in the Battle of Berlin. After the war, he worked as a cattle dealer.

Other Interviews:

Craftsmen and Merchants
Sabbath and Poverty


Kamyanets-Podilskyy, Ukraine

Occasionally, Avrom Gelman's mother was able to make challah on Shabes. He recalls that before she baked the challah, she would cut off a small piece and throw it in the oven. This tradition -- of separating a piece of dough from bread about to be baked -- is a Biblical commandment for Jewish women. In times of the Temple, the separated bread was consecrated for use by Kohanim (priests), but today it is just discarded or burned.

Taking challah was not the only commandment Avrom's mother kept. She would also light the Sabbath candles every Friday night and say prayers over them. Avrom remembers what his mother would pray for: she would speak to G-d in Yiddish, asking for livelihood and health for her family.