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[Page 277]

Letters from the Diaspora (1935 - 1939) cont.

Postcard from Ben-Zion Segal from Dusiat to his Daughter
and Son-in-Law, Slovka and Naftali Sarver

 

 

30 September, 1936

Dear children, Slova and Naftali,

We received your warm and longed for postcard, thank the Lord. May God continue helping you and all Jews.

Dear children, I have to write you that Jews are being mistreated everywhere: in Germany, Poland, Romania, Latvia and L. [Lithuania]. Things aren't that great here either. But, as they say, it is in the home of strangers. But in our private home, as it is written that God made a covenant with Abraham our forefather that Eretz Yisrael is our country, that harm is being done there, that is the end of the world for the Jews. And the pain is even greater because we can't scream. We have an example from King Saul, when he and his sons were killed in battle by the Philistines, they chopped off his head and sent it all around the land of the Philistines, and the next morning the Amalekite stranger arrived and told King David about the death of Saul…

And do you know, my dear ones, what the King said to the people of Israel? “Tell it not in Gath, proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon, lest the daughters of the Philistines be glad, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised rejoice.” (2 Samuel 1:20) You need to understand that that is our situation here. Like bells all the newspapers “ring out” that they are killing Jews in Palestine…

Take care of yourselves my dearest, and may the Lord preserve you. I am worried that, Heaven forbid, you don't suffer from hunger. In such moments, perhaps you can't even purchase food for money, because they are harassing and burning without stop…

Write me, perhaps you need assistance. Write me and to Aunt Golde in America. Look children, take care of yourselves and God will protect you.

With us everything is all right. Mother, Chava and Yitzchak [Mordochowitz] send you their best wishes.

Regards to the Rabbi, the Gaon Rabbi Schmidt.

Your father who hopes for good things for you,

Ben-Zion Segal

My dear ones, I sent your postcard to Leah.

 

[Page 278]

Sara Melamed to her Sister Rivka in Eretz Yisrael

 

 
Letterhead of the Jewish Folksbank of Aran
March 11, 1937

 

Aran [Varèna], March 11, 1937

Dear Rivka,

I've got your letter. As you can see! When you write, it arrives …

The current problem is Ella's aliya. I assume that you already have the 500 Lit. It means you received another 200 Lit from home and I sent them. It seems that a hundred Lit are still lacking, but at the moment we are unable to send them. I simply don't have it. In another two weeks I will go home and arrange it, and if I manage to borrow a hundred Lit here by Passover, I will send them from here. In any case, something can already be done with 500 Lit. Don't wait. Every moment counts.

I don't want to get caught up in an argument, but if we didn't take an interest, I don't know if anything would get done. Ella truly did things for our home, but I also did more than a little. If I didn't send money home I could have had a large capital now, and you know it. I am not asking anyone for thanks. When I send 50 Lit home every month, it is my duty as a member of the family. I don't need anything for myself, and I don't know how long I will remain here… although the years are going by quickly and we don't remain in one place, but I have the feeling that if I need something – I will receive it. In any case, it's my luck that I am always the bad one…

The main thing is that Ella makes aliya with luck and that she will manage well, and then it will be possible to think about the remaining children. I, the bad sister, will be pleased if everyone does well…

Nu, [Okay], enough. See, without wanting to get caught up in an argument I wrote at length.

Rivka! Write me what you want and I will buy it and send it with Ella… And what can't be obtained here, I will give her money and she will buy it for you in Riga, where they say knitwear is especially inexpensive.

Listen Rivka. Everyone here is astonished that after everything one reads in the newspapers you are asking for Ella to make aliya. The cashier's sister wants to make aliya with the help of her sister in Eretz Yisrael. Perhaps she will register for aliya after Passover…

Your sister, Sara

 

Sara Melamed to her brother-in-law Shmuel Spitzer (Shoham)

 

 
Letterhead of the Jewish Folksbank of Aran
April 4, 1938

 

Varèna, 1938 8/IV

Dear Shmuel,

I am certain that you will forgive me if I only write a few words this time. First of all, I already wrote you quite a long letter in Yiddish, and I think that you don't even understand. In any case, you will understand something. The Sabbath is approaching, and we nevertheless have to welcome it here…

… As you know, I am working in my two positions. After my work in the bank I have a job in the charity organization, where I work on a voluntary basis. I am now also the secretary of the Jewish National Fund [KKL] and “Keren Hayesod” in Aran [Varèna], and in general there is no shortage of work. But that is also good. As they say, work makes life sweet… The question is, if this too is work… You in Eretz Yisrael have a different kind of work, harder and more responsible… Please write me more about the situation in Eretz Yisrael in general and about your situation in the kibbutz in particular. Are things quiet where you are?

… I am going home for Passover, and from there we will all write you.

Please forgive me if my Hebrew is not correct. When you don't write, you forget. Here there is no one with whom to speak Hebrew. If you want me to write Hebrew well, write me often…

Take care of Rivkale because we have left her in your care…

Regards to everyone. Mama and the children send you their regards and ask how you are. Please reply right away.

Nu, shalom and regards,

Yours, Sara

 

 
A Happy New Year be inscribed [in the book of life]
May the New Year bring industry, aliya and building up [of Eretz Yisrael]

Best Wishes
S. Melamed

Aran, 1928

 

[Page 279]

Sonia Slovo to her friend Hene-Bailke in South Africa

 

“Collective Shomeri” in Kovno, July 19, 1937

My dear sister Hene-Baile, hearty greetings …

… The first item of news I have for you is that I am already on hachshara and learning how to sew corsets from the biggest expert, Mrs. Jalowa. You will probably be amazed when you read this letter, but I also find it hard to believe that I am on hachshara. Henia, I will admit the truth to you: two months ago I reached the conclusion that I had had enough of walking around doing nothing in Dusiat and I revealed my plans to Chana [Pores], who also decided to immediately go with me.

We packed our things in a sack and journeyed to Kovno [Kaunas]. I was sorry to leave the guests from Africa, but if I hadn't left during the hullabaloo, I would probably have remained in Dusiat to this day.

And now I am in the “Collective Shomeri”.If you tell this to Beinish Yudelowitz, he will know more details than you. I pay sixty Lit a month and 200 Lit for learning the profession. The course will last six months. It looks like it will cost a lot of money and will demand great effort from home, but I will become an independent person and will not need to return to the shtetl, and I hope that I will also be able to help Itale [Slovo] with her studies.

You probably remember that we also used to sew in Dusiat, but now, after two months of study, I can work very nicely. I sew corsets 'mit lipen' [waiscoat-style, with brassieres] for the madams, the rich ladies of Kovno. I still earn very little – but you know that if necessary, one also sews for free, because the practice is important…

Henia, I have not yet received the letter you sent me to Dusiat. You know the Jewish mail…

With regard to me, I am very well. I am happy and well in all ways. We, the entire collective, were at a moshava [gathering] and had a good time. There are three of us from Dusiat in the collective: Chana [Pores], Tzila Shub and myself. She is learning knitting. We constantly go to kibbutzim [activities]. And you should know that the “ken” [cell] in Kovno is not like the one in Dusiat. I read a great deal and we also have our own money, because the professionals receive money from home, and we go to the cinema and the theatre. So as you can see, we are happy.

Henia, the Africans had a very good time with us. It's hard to describe how happy Grandma was. We didn't know them and so they didn't know what to bring us, but when they were in Kovno they bought silk for dresses for everyone, and many more things. I would prefer it if they enabled me to learn a profession… but nothing can be done and we need to thank them for coming…

About Dusiat I can write that it remains as it was, and perhaps has even become a bit prettier. In our home everything also remains the same. Rachel is still on hachshara, and will soon make aliya. Lolke manages the mill. In the winter he installed electricity in the mill and the house, and now every corner in our house is lit up. Lolke will soon go to Kovno to study to be an electrician. Itale is at home meanwhile, and her time will also come. She is still young and pure. Avramele is in the third grade and is a good student. When your name is mentioned he says: “Ah, Hene-Bailke who used to make the teiglech” …

Itale won't write you this time because she doesn't know that we are writing.

Thank you for the coupon [international stamp – ed.]. If you hadn't sent it, we wouldn't have been able to answer you. You can understand for yourself that on hachshara you turn into a pauper, and you don't have a spare cent…

Regards to you from Gershon Baron and Gershon Slep, who came to the moshava. Gershon is in town now, and we plan to go to the cinema. Thanks to Chana I also get to do this. You will understand for yourself…

Henia, I will end this saga, because my hand is cramped, and there is always a commotion in the collective…

Regards to everyone from Dusiat – Beinish, Nechama [Yudelowitz], Rachel [Blacher] and all their families. Henia, ask our relatives how they enjoyed themselves in Dusiat, and about all of us. Give them our regards, and you can tell them that you correspond with me.

Your sister, Sonia

 

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