אפרים קעסלער, אַ 105-יאָריקער ייִד וואָס איז געבוירן און אויפֿגעהאָדעוועט געוואָרן אין בילגאָרײַ
This show features an interview with Efraim (Froyim) Kessler, who, at age 105, is the oldest person ever interviewed on The Yiddish Voice. In the interview Kessler, who was born in Bilgoray, Poland, in 1916, recalls various aspects of his youth, including encounters with the Nobel Prize-winning author Isaac Bashevis Singer and Rabbi Aharon Rokeach, the Belzer Rebbe. He also recalls surviving the Spanish flu. (We learned after the interview that he also survived Covid-19.)
Efraim Kieslowicz was born and raised in Bilgoray (Polish spelling: Biłgoraj) on July 27, 1916, one of nine siblings. His father was a rabbi and also ran a grain mill and grocery store. He became an electrician in prewar Poland. He spent the war years in various places in the Soviet Union, including Chukotka in the Russian Far East and Samarkand and Tashkent in Uzbekistan. After the war, he spent several years in a DP camp in Ebensee, Austria. He arrived in the USA in 1952, spending several years in New York and elsewhere before arriving in Los Angeles, where he has lived until now. Along the way, he anglicized his name to be Fred Kessler. In 1960, he started his own electrical contracting business, Fred Kessler Electric, later called Robert Kessler Electric when his son took over the business. He was for decades a member of the shtibl known as "Rabbi Moskovitz's shul" on Fairfax St. in Los Angeles, and has been a member of Young Israel of Los Angeles for over 40 years. He now resides with his son Michael in Los Angeles. The interview took place in September 2021.
Also on tonight's show, Kolya Borodulin, director of Yiddish Programming at Workers Circle in New York, talks about the upcoming virtual program, Vinter in Yidishland. We'll also hear the Yiddish Voice debut of a new Yiddish version of the Dolly Parton song Jolene, performed by the Israeli singer and actress Ronit Asheri. Finally, to observe Tu Bishvat, which fell two days ago, from our archives: Miriam Libenson Z"L: a talk in honor of the holiday Tu Bishvat, the holiday of the trees, originally broadcast in 1994, followed by music related to Tu Bishvat and/or to trees, generally.
Air date: January 19, 2022
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