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[Pages 243-245]

To Remember and To Shed a Tear

By Elka Slovo (Melamed)

Translated by Judy Grossman

Dusiat Dusiat, my beloved little shtetl! Can I forget you and my loved ones who are gone? I look at a postcard from Dusiat from 1941, written in two columns: one written by my mother, and the other by Netl, my mother-in-law. I read it and my eyes fill with tears. Memories of the past fill my mind, and I see them all before my eyes.

My father Yosef died when we were little children. When he became ill, all of us children went to the synagogue with our mother to pray for him. He died in Ponivezh [Panevezys] and was buried in Dusiat. We remained orphaned with our mother Henia [nee Levitt]. But we weren't alone. Half the residents of the shtetl were our relatives. I had aunts and uncles and cousins there, and there was also dear and good Netl, whose love I was privileged to have, and I also loved her so dearly.

More than forty years have gone by, but I still see the shtetl in my mind's eye, the three long streets, the little alleys and the beautiful lake, to which you could get from every alley and take a dip, and on Fridays to wash dishes in it, to scrub the candlesticks with sand. In the winter we would skate on the ice, and in the summer take walks in the forests.

My little shtetl Dusiat, where I passed my childhood years in happiness and sorrow, and where I met my fellow, my husband, my beloved Chaim.

In 1931 I went to learn a trade in the big city of Memel [Klaipeda], a Lithuanian-German city. I lived with my mother's cousin Raphael and Chyena Levitt. I studied and worked in their girdle salon, and put my salary into the communal funds of the kibbutz hachshara “Bamaale-Memel”. Only once a year, at Passover, did I go home, and then Chyena Levitt used to give me nuts, chocolate, lemons and oranges – a holiday gift for the family. I was always overjoyed to see my family and all my friends again.

 

 
“Kibbutz Ironi (Urban Kibbutz) 'Bamaale' in Memel
Second day of Passover, 18.4.1935
Raphael Levitt
(standing on the extreme right wearing a hat)
Seated, from right to left: Bailke (fifth), Elka Melamed (sixth)

 

 
“A gathering of Hashomer Hatzair members in Kibbutz Ironi Memel
May 1, 1935
Elka Melamed (seated second row, second from left)

 

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