Skip To Content
Forverts in English

VIDEO: Avrom Karpinovitch, Writer, Remembers Jewish Criminals In Vilna

This article originally appeared in the Yiddish Forverts.

Vilna writer Avrom Karpinovitch dedicated his life to describing the colorful personalities of the lower class and criminal element of his city on the eve of the Holocaust.

In this video he tells us about Tall Tamara, the Jewish streetwalker; Avrom Mosevski, the glutton; and Gedalke the Mad Cantor, who used to sing Jewish melodies into a teakettle to preserve them till Passover.

“The Vilna Gaon will be written about, researched and dissertated, and Dr. Max Weinreich is immortalized in the history of the Yiddish language,” Karpinovich says. “But what about Tall Tamara, who stood up to the Nazis at the extermination pit in Ponar? She expressed her dissent by being the only one not to take off her clothes. The Nazis murdered her still wearing her dress. That was the only protest she could express. With that one act she rescued the honor of all Jewish women. Why should Tamara be forgotten?‟

This documentary is one of ten in which acclaimed Yiddish writers of the pre-war generation speak openly about their lives. The films, in Yiddish with English subtitles, were directed by award-winning writer and former Forverts editor Boris Sandler and produced through the Forward Association as a DVD series called “Monologues of Yiddish Writers”.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.