Interviewed by Carol Zuckert
May 25, 1999
CZ: May the 25th and I'm speaking with Dora Perchik. Yefim Levitsky is helping with the translation. Dora lives in Council House in Apt. 107. You understand what we're doing? I just want to know generally about your life and I'll ask you qu estions and feel free, feel really easy...
DP: I was born in city of Odessa, October 1923. I am a doctor
CZ: A medical doctor.
DP: Yes, physician. I worked 45 years in hospital.
CZ: What kind of a doctor were you?
DP: Family physician, in hospital.
CZ: And you worked in a clinic in the hospital?
CZ: So you were born in the Ukraine.
DP: Black Sea. Black Sea, Odessa.
CZ: Odessa, is that the same as Black Sea?.
YL: No, Odessa is on the shore of the Black Sea.
DP: I liked my work. I have friends. I must left my city because of religious persecution.
CZ: Tell me how that happened. What happened for you? How were you persecuted?
DP: When I was young I used to go to synagogue.
YL: Some people other nationality tease her and used to offend her because she and her parents went to the synagogue. She was shamed by them, not good attention to her from other people.
CZ: They were critical.
DP: When I go to school I heard "oh you go to synagogue." "I saw you in synagogue." My mother also go to synagogue. My mother was religious.
CZ: Your father too or just your mother?
DP: Mother and Father.
CZ: So so, uh huh. Did you have sisters and brothers?
DP: I have a sister in Tucson, sister's husband, Buchman, Vilyam.
CZ: I talked to Vilyam, interviewed him. Did he tell you?
DP: Yes, my sister, Louise is my sister, husband is Buchman Vilyam.
CZ: Did she feed me! Aye yi yi. Borscht, soup, and what else. A couple of other things. Wonderful. They are very nice people, indeed. So, you have one sister and did you come to the United States together?
CZ: And when was that?
DP: 9 October 1992.
CZ: OK, so you've been here awhile. Good. And you've been studying English.
DP: I study, go to school and to Council House come a teacher.
YL: She don't need me for interview now. I see she speaks very well.
CZ: Yes, she speaks very well but it's nice to have you here too.
DP: I like Tucson. I go Saturday, Sunday, every week in synagogue. I feel very good when I go to synagogue. If I do not go to synagogue I feel, eh, pain.
CZ: Keeps you healthy! So which synagogue do you go to?
DP: On Fifth Street.
CZ: Oh, you do. And were you always Orthodox? Is that how you were brought up? Oh, no Anshai. And how do you get there?
DP: I take a bus.
CZ: OK, you take the bus.
DP: In Council House there are very good women. Some time they drive me.
YL: Somebody drives her to synagogue. When she cannot take a bus, when she has a possibility somebody will drive her.
CZ: I see, very good. So tell me a little bit about your childhood.
DP: I was very, very sick.
YL: She was very sick in childhood. Many children infections, she has.
CZ: You went to school and you finished high school level. Where did you go...
YL: When she finished high school she enrolled in medical institute. It is like here medical school, medical college at university.
DP: I finished in 1946.
CZ: Did you have trouble getting into medical school?
YL: She enrolled in 1941 before the World War begin and she enrolled in the evacuation in Alma-Ata and Novosibirsk. She studied in the medical school there. And in 1945 she returned back to Odessa and finished the institute in Odessa.
CZ: I see.
YL: So in these years maybe it was not so hard to enroll in the institute because many young people go to the war and it was not so many students so she could study.
CZ: Demand was decreased for the positions in the medical school. Did you know you always wanted to be a physician? Did you know you wanted to be a doctor as you were growing up?
DP: Yes, I very very like my job.
CZ: Before then, when you were growing up you always wanted to be a doctor?
YL: Yes, she dreamed to be a doctor.
CZ: Was it a problem being a woman? Or it isn't a problem in the USSR, it wasn't, was it, for women to be ....
YL: No, because mostly medical doctors in Russia was women. It is a more women's profession, occupation than for men. Men was mostly engineers and some other qualifications. Of course, many men was working in school, but teachers and physic ians mostly was women.
CZ: I see, yeah.
DP: Vilyam was engineer.
CZ: Yes, so that's more typical.
YL: Yes, more typical for man to be engineers. Women usually were teachers. I am also was a teacher, first 6 years of my work was in school. When I finished the university I used to work as a teacher in mathematics in high school.
YL: But in my environment most of the old teachers was women.
CZ: Like here. Not the university level but the undergraduate level women are most of the teachers in elementary school and even high school are women. Most, maybe 80-85 percent. OK, so you went to medical school, you finished, and then you went right to work in Odessa?
DP: In Odessa I worked....
YL: The first five years after she finished the institute she used to work in a village, in country village.
CZ: Sthetel or village?
YL: A small village. After five years working in village she came back to Odessa and used to work as family doctor. In Russia the family physicians used to go to the apartment, to the house where the people was sick. They don't use much to allow people, especially when they contagious, to go to medical facility, because it pass infection maybe. For physicians it was difficult work to go in every season, every weather, to go on the stairs, high floor, and to visit their patients.
CZ: How did you get there? What travel, what transportation? Bicycle?
CZ: So was it far, did you have to go far to your patients?
DP: No, not far.
YL: Every doctor has an area.
CZ: But it's cold and windy.
YL: Yes, it was cold and windy and sometimes hot. But in America we don't see like this example.
CZ: Used to. Used to be that doctors would come visit people in their homes. They did, a long time ago when I was a child.
YL: Long ago maybe but now no. Now the patients, not depending on the conditions, very sick, not sick, they go to the doctor.
CZ: Were you Jewish, practicing your Judaism when you were at this point, when you were finished with college?
DP: After college, no.
CZ: When you were finished with medical school, were you able to continue to be ...
YL: Her mother used to practice
DP: My mother [...] celebrate Yisker, Memory Day, Passover, Purim.
CZ: What's the first day you said, Memorial Day?
CZ: But that's where Christ rises, that's not...
CZ: Oh, Yisker. Yisker is when you say I guess it's three or four times a year when Yisker services for the dead, memorial services?
DP: Yes, I go to synagogue. I have said Kaddish for my mother, father, sister, in synagogue.
CZ: Here, now.
CZ: But in Russia, when you were in Odessa...
DP: No, in Tucson.
CZ: But in Odessa, no?
DP: Odessa, no.
YL: Because it was not good from the administration point of view.
DP: I went to the cemetery.
YL: She used to go to the cemetery on this day but not often to the synagogue.
DP: In Tucson I go to synagogue.
CZ: OK. I understand. Did you have a husband.
CZ: Single, me too. No husband. OK, so you had your nice work. And your family there was your sister...
DP: Sister, niece, son
YL: She has a son.
CZ: Where is your son now.
YL: He was here but now he is working.
CZ: Where does he work?
YL: He used to work at the plant, at some plant, I don't know where.
CZ: He lives here in Tucson?
YL: Yes, he live in this apartment with her.
CZ: Oh, now?
CZ: I see. How old is he?
CZ: He depends on you for a lot, huh? And so, since you've come here, have you, are you happy you came to the United States?
CZ: Very happy you're here.
DP: Very, but very hot here.
CZ: Warm, but it's good. Because in Odessa it's cold, right?
YL: It's not so cold, but in winter it's windy.
CZ: What have you done since you've come here. You've learned to speak English.
DP: When I came here, I did not know English.
YL: She did not know any word in English when she came but now she understand good and she can speak a little, so very good.
CZ: Do you go out shopping by yourself? Grocery shopping?
YL: Yes, usually to Safeway not far.
CZ: Do you read English books?
YL: And listens to TV.
CZ: You don't have the Russian satellite?
DP: Yes, I have.
YL: All people that live here have Russian TV except us.
YL: We don't like to spend much time by the TV, especially us because my wife has to study English better and if she has Russian TV she doesn't learn English.
DP: No Russian. No Russian. Yeah, Buchman, also has not Russian TV.
CZ: That's really smart. I mean, if you want to learn the language the more you hear it, so that's right, your wife's busy. Why did you decide to leave Ukraine, Odessa?
DP: I left because of...
YL: Because of religious persecution and because of anti-Semitism, it is connected.
YL: So, she decided to leave. Her sister also with her family.
CZ: They left at the same time, your sister? Came at the same time, to Tucson?
CZ: All together, that's nice, isn't it? Yeah. All together, that's nice. That's nice that you had that. Did you consider moving anywhere else, like to Israel?
DP: I like Tucson.
CZ: Well, you didn't know you were going to like Tucson. I love Tucson myself.
DP: I like America, I like Tucson.
CZ: Do you have any family left behind?
YL: A niece. The niece is with her daughter and she left in Odessa.
CZ: Did she try to come here?
YL: It is now difficult for her to come here because they are not close relatives. But if she were citizen, if you are citizen you can send her, an affidavit.
CZ: Are you a citizen?
CZ: Are you a citizen [to YL]?
CZ: I forgot to ask you that. I thought about that after awhile. OK, how long ago did you get your citizenship?
YL: A year and a half.
CZ: You too?
YL: Maybe more, two years, I don't remember exactly.
CZ: So, did you find that when you came to Tucson people were helpful to you, they helped you get settled and get adjusted?
DP: When I arrived in Tucson I meet...
YL: Jewish families, met her
DP: Translator for doctor, translator for hospital, good.
CZ: I don't know, I think I've covered everything pretty much. OK. I think that's it for now. If I think of anything I want to ... Thank you.
CZ: I asked the question whether or not at Anchai Israel there were Russian prayer books and Dora's just answered.
YL: She told me that she saw three books, Bibles, in Russian language in synagogue and people can use them in synagogue and then left again. Some person gave her this book but after this in another time when she went to the synagogue she di d not saw this person. Only three books so it is very difficult. Maybe they will make more.
CZ: Gonna work on that. That's something I think's real important.
YL: Because many people that come to the synagogue did not understand they don't understand English and for them it's not interesting to sit there and they don't understand anything. If they have Russian book, Bible in Russian they can read and follow.
CZ: Good, OK. That's very important. I know it's something I've been aware of but we need to do something. Thank you again.