Bella Chirkova 's father was a rabbi and her grandfather was a cantor. During the war, she served at the front as a nurse. After the war she moved to Vinnytsya to study at a pedagogical institute, and then worked as a teacher. We met her at the Vinnytsya Jewish women’s choir, where she was dancing and singing at ninety years of age.
Other Interviews:What It Means to Be a Jew
The Sabbath Candles
Remedy for the Evil Eye
Bella Chirkova from Vinnitsa speaks about folk remedies. When asked if she knows how to ward off the evil eye, she begins by saying that she can tell what's wrong with a person by using an egg. She then gives an example of one way a person can be healed without conventional medicine - Bella suggests drinking your own urine to cure a cough.
The suggested treatment is but one example of what is known as babske refues -or old wives' medicine. As Lisa Epstein notes in the YIVO encyclopedia, "The approach of the East European Jewish population to health care made no distinction between what would now be considered 'scientific' medicine and 'folk' medicine.... Among Jews, a rich oral tradition of folk remedies for physical, as well as emotional, ills existed." The cures could be found in various recipe books, but by the time Bella was learning them, they were primarily transmitted orally, from one woman to another.