Arkadii Furer was born in Kryzhopil in 1920. Both his parents were also natives of the town. His father was a tailor. He had two brothers, one of whom was killed fighting during the Second World War. He studied in a Yiddish school for four years, before finishing his education in a Russian school. In 1940, Furer was drafted into the army, and was in Chişinău when the war broke out. He fought first in the Caucasus, and then in Stalingrad where he was injured, but continued fighting, becoming the commander of his division and serving in Crimea. Toward the end of the war, he moved with the army through Belarus, Latvia, and Lithuania, reaching Kaliningrad. He returned to Kryzhopil in 1947 and became the manager of a shop. At the age of sixty, he moved to Vinnytsya to work for the railroad company.

Running Away from the Melamed

Vinnytsya, Ukraine

Avrom Furer bitterly remembers how the children at the state Yiddish school he attended would mock him mercilessly for receiving private religious instruction from a religious teacher (melamed). The students viewed it as anomalous and were thus affected by the antireligious morals and values Soviet society enforced.

Religious schools (cheder) were part of the traditional system of Jewish education in which sacred texts were given exclusive attention in the curriculum and had long been the bedrock of Jewish education in Eastern Europe.

Source: Jeffrey Veidlinger, In the Shadow of the Shtetl: Small-Town Jewish Life in Soviet Ukraine (Indiana University Press, 2013)