Esiah Kleiman's wife Fenia Kleiman with her parents Aron and Mina Trachtenbroit

Esiah Kleiman's wife Fenia Kleiman with her parents Aron and Mina Trachtenbroit

This is a picture of my wife Fenia Kleiman [nee Trachtenbroit] and her parents Aron and Mina Trachtenbroit. The photo was taken in Briceni village in 1947.

Fenia was born in the Bessarabian town of Briceni in 1931. She was the only child in a religious Jewish family. Her father, Aron Trachtenbroit, was an accountant and her mother, Mina Trachtenbroit [nee Zilberman], a housewife. Fenia had a happy childhood until the Germans occupied Brinceni at the beginning of the war. All Jews of the town were taken to Transnistria. Fenia and her parents stayed in the ghetto of Kopaigorod, Vinnitsa region, until 1944. It was a miracle that they survived. They had typhoid in the ghetto. They lost about 15 close relatives to the war. After they were liberated in March 1944, Fenia and her parents returned to Brinceni where Fenia finished a secondary school. We met at the entrance exams for Chernovtsy University and have been together ever since.

I finished school in 1949. I knew there were restrictions for the admission of Jews to higher educational institutions, but I submitted my documents to the Faculty of Physics and Mathematics at Chernovtsy University anyway, passed my entrance exams and was admitted. I was lucky, though. Fenia also took exams at Chernovtsy University. She passed them with the highest grades. Yet she was not admitted, just like so many other Jews. If any of them went to complain that Ukrainian nationals were admitted even though they only had satisfactory grades, they were offered to attend lectures as candidates to students - with the possibility to be enrolled if another student was expelled. This was no guarantee of admission, but it was a chance. My future wife became a student even before the first term was over. Fenia and I were successful students and lecturers treated us well.

We got married in 1954 when we were in our final year at university. We had a civil ceremony in the district registry office. We didn't have a Jewish wedding because it was a hard and complicated time and authorities might have punished us if we had had a Jewish religious ceremony. My mother cooked a wedding dinner for members of the family and our closest friends. Upon graduation my wife and I got mandatory job assignments and went to a small village in Chernovtsy region to work as teachers of mathematics.

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