The Yiddish Thing - Life In The Shtetl - 
Kupiskis, Lithuania

This article first appeared on the JewishGen Blog on June 19, 2009.

  Click here to listen to this interview!  (You need to have a program such as Windows Media Player or similar on your computer.  After clicking on the "click here" button, click on "click here to start download blue button," then either 'open' or 'save.'  If you click on 'open', the talk will automatically start in your Media Player software.  If you chose 'save' then it will save to your hard drive and you will have to manually open the program.) 

Recently, a new Jewish radio station was created called ChaiFM 101.9 in Johannesburg, South Africa (  One of the interesting weekly programming choices on ChaiFM is hosted by Eli Goldstein and called "The Yiddish Thing - Life in the Shtetl."  The program focuses on shtetls in Lithuania and other countries as well as towns in South Africa where Jews lived and discusses issues of the Yiddish language, culture and music.  In the past, Eli had interviewed individuals about Rokiskis, Lithuania, and other shtetls as well as former Litvak SIG President Howard Margol.

With the capability of audio streaming, and the ability to text, e-mail or call into the program, anyone, anywhere in the world, can participate in the program which means it has come to have a worldwide audience.

During the Sunday, June 14, 2009, program Mr Goldstein conducted interviews with three separate individuals.  The first segment was an interview with myself and dealth with Kupiskis, Lithuania, my ancestral shtetl.  Then, there was a segment with an interview with Aaron Lanksy, founder and president of the National Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, MA.

A final segment featured Elona Steinfeld, who is involved with the Country Communities Project, South African Friends of Beit Hatefusoth, which has produced a series of books dealing with the small places in South Africa where Jews lived.  Her focus on this program was Parys, South Africa.  She and I had met whilst she was doing research on the place my family had settled in South Africa, Bot Rivier. 

During my segment, I read from an unpublished autobiography of Miriam Sachar Fendel.  The excerpt had shown the pain felt at parting when family left Lithuania for other faraway places.  Another reading was from a short story about Mendel-Leib Rabinowitz who was able to answer a kashe (a question about the torah) from two young students, Ephraim Oshry (later Rabbi Oshry) and Shlomo Kodesh. 

I had a call in from Cedric Ginsburg, Professor of Classical, Near and Far Eastern and Religious Studies at the University of South Africa in Pretoria, South Africa.  Whilst he was not a Kupiskis descendant, he was interested in the Holocaust and its impact on the shtetl and asked about the Yizkor Book for the town.  I could provide him with information on how to get a copy of the Yizkor book which had been written by the late Stanley Mayersohn.  Other individuals e-mailed me and called after the program, all interested in their actual connections to Kupiskis.

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