e.g: Grant

Field School-Expedition in Rybnitsa

(Transnistria, June 24 – July 1)

From June 24 to July 1, 2018, "Sefer" center held the next folklore and ethnographic expedition, this time in the Transnistrian city of Rybnitsa.The project has been supported by the Genesis Philanthropy Group, the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress and other sponsors.


It was the second expedition to Transnistria. The first one was heldlast yearmostly in Bendery and Tiraspol followed by short two days visit to Rybnitsa. The success of this year expedition exceeded all expectations (And there undoubtedly were expectations). In 2004 2008 . Expeditions held by Center Sefer already worked in Transnistrian regions of Podolia. As historically Rybnitsa and surroundings were the part of Podolia region we were able to continue the research which was interrupted 10 years ago.


The specific interest of Rybnitsa is that the last Chasidic tzaddik of Eastern Europe Rabbi Haim Zanvl Abramovich had lived there until 1973. Many of the elderly generation in Rybnitsa have seen Rabbi and talked to him. One or another legend about the Rebbi are known practically by all inhabitants of the city, both Jews, and non-Jews.


Not very big in number (13 participants) and time (a week) expedition nevertheless thoroughly studied that unique phenomenon of the live Jewish hagiographical tradition and recorded more than 50 interviews. Some of the informants were telling about the “works and days” of Rybnitsa Rabbi not only in Russian but in Yiddish as well. Extensive modern religious and para-religious folklore was collected, interaction of oral tradition and mass media was revealed, ways of representation of the figure of the Rabbi in various social and ethnic groups were described. The composition of participants experienced researchers and beginners-was very well chosen. The best decoration of the group was the poet and dialectologist professor Dov-Ber Kerler.



Dov-Ber Kerler USA-Israel, University of Indiana
Valeriy Dymshits St. Petersburg, European University of St. Petersburg
Maria Kaspina,Moscow, RSUH, Museum for Jewish History
Anna Kushkova, USA, University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill)
Alexandra Babikova, St. Petersburg
Svetlana Bardina, Moscow
Kristina Grublite, Moscow
Irina Dushakova, Moscow
Maria Dyatlova, Great Britain
Alexander Kovtun, Moscow
Yulia Kovyrshina, St. Petersburg
Svetlana Pogodina, Riga, Latvia
Faina Raygorodskaya, Moscow

The project is implemented with the support of the Genesis Philanthropy Group, the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress and other sponsors.
The field school in Rybnitsa will be a continuation of the research of the SEFER Center that took place in this region in 2008, 2011,2017. As a result of the work in Rybnitsa in 2017, interesting materials and memories were collected about the famous Rebbe, Zhaiv Abramovich, who lived here from 1941 to 1972. Some Jewish families still keep items that were received from him as amulets.


The goal of the ethnographic school (headed by M. Kaspin and V. Dymshits) will be the continuation of the collection of material on the life of the Rybnitsa Rebbe in the Soviet Union, as well as the study of the Jewish community life in Ribnita in the past and present.
We invite those researchers who already have field research experience (anthropology, ethnography, epigraphies, folklore, oral history) to participate in the school. It is necessary to have your own equipment (recorders, photo and video cameras, laptops). The knowledge of Yiddish will be an advantage in the process of selection.

The knowledge of the Russian language is necessary (native speakers or the level close to native speakers).

To participate in the school please fill in thequestionnairebeforeMay, 10. We will let you know the results of selection of participants onMay, 20.