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

In 2003, AHEYM interviewed Avrom Gelman in Kamyanets-Podilskyy. When asked about how his family observed the Sabbath before the war, he recalled that Sabbath was particularly special, because it was the only time the children got to eat meat. Sadly, abject poverty is a theme that runs through many AHEYM interviews, particularly when the interviewees retell their memories of the 1930s. Gelman's family was so poor, in fact, that his mother could not afford to provide both meat and challah for the family on Sabbath. Instead, she baked malay, cornbread, for the meal. In the middle of the interview, you can hear Dov-Ber Kerler and Gelman discuss the various Yiddish words for "corn" -- one of Romanian origin, and the other, that Gelman uses, of Slavic origin.

Towards the end of the interview, Gelman mentions the various professions that Jews in his town practiced. He tells AHEYM that to be a craftsman alone was insufficient to make a living. To make enough money, one had to both practice one's trade and be able to sell the items one made.