Evgeniia Kozak was born in 1926 in Bershad. She attended a Ukrainian school for eight years. Her parents, who were cousins, were both born in Bershad. Her father was a furrier. She had a younger brother and sister. She survived the war in evacuation in Bezopasnik, Orlovsky Region in the Caucasus and then in Andizhanskaia in the Stalinska region in Central Asia. When she returned to Bershad after the war, in April 1944, her mother worked as a baker. She married in 1958 and has two sons. Her husband died before her second son was born, when her first son was just one and a half years old.
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Evgeniia's Gefilte Fish
Food on Sabbath
In postwar Soviet Ukraine foodways provided one of the few means of expressing ethnic identity and memory. After so much of the old world was destroyed, food provided a means of memorializing and commemorating a past that could not be publicly expressed. In this clip Evgeniia Kozak gets lost in her memories of cholent.
Food was also strongly associated with religious festivals and practice, a phenomenon by no means unique to Soviet Jewry. Sabbath foods— challah, gefilte fish, cholent, and latkes — feature prominently in memories of the Sabbath.
Cholent, in particular, a slow-cooked stew, usually consisting of meat, barley, beans, potato, and whatever else could be found around the house, symbolizes the Sabbath for many. The Sabbath rest prohibits cooking from Friday evening through Saturday sunset, but does allow the consumption of a hot meal provided that the fire was lit before the onset of the Sabbath. It is traditional, therefore, to place the stew in the oven prior to the start of the Sabbath, on Friday evening, and remove it, fully cooked, for lunch on Saturday.
Source: Jeffrey Veidlinger, In the Shadow of the Shtetl: Small-Town Jewish Life in Soviet Ukraine (Indiana University Press, 2013)