«Jewish Observer»
January 2002
5762 Tevet

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- Your program "Yahad" came into the history as a unique Jewish TV program. How did you manage in hard times of 1990 to organize a Jewish program in Ukraine?

- The answer is rather simple. We wanted to work and tried to do our best. When the program went on air, it was our response to all who thought that Jews could not have full cultural life in this country.

In hard times, when we lacked funds, we asked our viewers to help us. Many money transfers came, sometimes it was 2-3 rubles. But the most touching thing is that the transfers came from ordinary people - pensioners and workers. We keep the transfers on which they wrote "Guys, keep your tails up! We are with you." This mutual understanding and solidarity still exist between us though we didn't ask for help any more.

On the other hand, there are facts that we didn't mention before. There were arsons, somebody tried to pour petrol on the door and set fire, but I am not easy to be frightened. Firstly, I survived several real wars. Near Karabakh they tried even to shoot me. For half an hour I was standing against the wall, but everything turned out all right. Secondly, everything I wanted to do has been done already.

The main thing in any business is to be professional. Journalist is a profession. I am not a stringer who waits when something happens and then rushes to the spot. I am a chronographer. I mean that I should be there where something takes place in Jewish life. I also think that if one does something he must do it well.

- What characters of your program do you like most of all? And what do you mean by "personality" in the Jewish world?

- Well, as a journalist, I am really interested in personalities. They are quite different. They are like in the well-known phrase - "Characters are all around you." I have an interesting program the character of which is the director of a strong collective farm. When he had to be re-elected, people came to the election with sticks and axes not to let fraud happen. Leonid Rybak rose the collective farm's economy, built a sausage shop. He has worked for 26 years in his collective farm. He is really the "head of the farm" which is in joking Yiddish is "a Yiddishe kopf." There is also Alexander Feldman who manages three shops at the Nikopol pipe plant. He is from a family of metallurgists. He patented 100 inventions. This man makes multi-layer and thermo-resistant pipes which are in great demand abroad. These people are the core of the Jewish world in Ukraine.

- What will be "Yahad's" format in future?

- In Harvard "Yahad" is considered to be the best program in the Jewish world among programs that are shown in the government TV. Jewish programs are many in the world. Americans, French and Canadians make Cable channel programs. But they are local programs. Their level is low. The main thing is that what we are doing now and will do in future will remain forever. We sign ticket to everyone for eternity. So all our rewards we have got already. Nevertheless, we go on working. Our program is in Vinnitsa (ODTPK channel), Donetsk (ODTPK), Odessa (TPK "Glas"), Chernigov ("New Chernigov" channel) and Rovny (ODTPK). We constantly enlarge our geography and promote cooperation with oblast and city communities all across Ukraine. We are ready to pay a symbolic amount for the right to telecast our program in the cable TV. If there are requests, we are ready to cooperate.

Interviewed by Oleg Kozerog

«Jewish Observer» - obozrevatel@jewukr.org
© 2001 Jewish Confederation of Ukraine - www.jewukr.org