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[Page 244]

Chapter 21

The First World War and After, 1914-1939

Goldie: The war broke out in 1914, and the Jews escaped again to somewhere else. So my family escaped to Russia. Sidney remained in Abel, because there were the properties. And the grandmother was still alive, so he took care of her. The rest of the family went to Russia. When we came to Russia, the family, we were in Valdai. Later, I remember, we were in Moscow. I don't know exactly what my father did to support the family.

There was one occasion that my mother was walking with a bunch of the children, and I was a good-looking baby. I had a lot of curly hair. So a woman came over, and she wanted to buy one of the children. So apparently, I was kidnapped for a few days, and then I was somehow returned back. That was the time when they were in Russia. But then when the war was over, Sidney came and helped the family come back to Abel.

Question: You were extremely young then; you were born in 1914.

Goldie: I just remember somehow pictures of what was happening. So, as I remember, Yisroel was already settled in Kovno. Henneleh went to school, to the gymnasia, and she stayed with Yisroel. Chana was at home helping with the business, and Chaya, the oldest sister, was already married.

Question: Did you have any special interests or talents when you were growing up?

Goldie: Not particularly, just education. Everybody right away-as you got a little older, you were planning to do something else with your life, and especially started your desire to go to Israel, the hachsharah time.

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hachsharah means to prepare yourself to work in Israel as the pioneers, to be one of the chalutzim, to join that movement. That was the desire of every young person-to go to Israel, to help build the land.

Question: Talk about Jack a little bit. What do you remember about him, growing up?

Goldie: Jack was already trying to get an education. Jack was in school, in the gymnasia; he studied in the university, and he became a lawyer. He was appointed as a judge in Lithuania. Then how did he come to the United States? Al invited Jack to visit him, and when he came to the United States, Jack resigned his lawyership, and he remained in the United States. That's the way he survived.

Question: How old was Jack, roughly?

Goldie: Probably around twenty-five or something. That's the way Jack survived from the shtetl.

Question: Were any of the daughters interested in settling in the

United States, or was it only the brothers?

Goldie: You know, it was very important to get married, and you would get married very young. Chaya already had a family. Henne had a husband and a child. His family, Hesheleh's family, had a store, where they sold flour. He was such a wonderful human being. You know, they were people that were settled. Henne and Heshel had a home, an income, and he was very much accepted in the community. He was playing violin. He was the same age as Jack.

So did I answer the question? The same with Chana. Chana's husband was Yakov Baskin. He was a yeshiva bocher, and he was a rabbi. There was a big yeshiva in Ponevezh. Before he married Chana, he studied in Ponevezh, so the Ponevezher rabbi came to the wedding with a bunch of yeshiva bocherim to celebrate Chana's wedding. Later on, the

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rabbi was very famous in Israel. The Ponevezh yeshiva is still in Israel under the same name.

Chana remained in our home with my parents. They continued the store, and all lived together after Chana was married. They had a child. So you had a life, a normal life, and you don't run to the United States. And myself, I was a student in Kovno.

Question: Was Jack very involved in the Zionist  movement at that time?

Goldie: Everybody was a Zionist; everybody wanted to go to Israel. How did I come to the agricultural school? The orthodox Jews did not believe in Israel. They wanted to wait-everybody should waitfor the Messiah to come, so they prevented the young people who wanted to go hachsharah. Hachsharah means training to get yourself ready to work-learn skills and do physical work. Without training, you could not get a certificate from the British to go to Palestine. I was already anxious to go to Israel, because my generation started already to become chalutzim.

But they did not want me to go to work on the farm, so I went to the agricultural school. Yakov, Jacob Rassen, already started to prepare people with professions, that if they came to Israel, they should be prepared to do some work. So the ORT, Yakov, and Jacob Aleski were the ones that arranged the ORT schools on the farms; so when you had a certain time on that work, you got a certificate to go to Israel. So that's where I met Yakov.

I'm going away from the story. Yakov had a wife and two children, and there was another agronom, Kaganovich, and together they conducted the agricultural school in Kalinova. Kalinova was a farm.

Question: Why did some people go to the United States and not to Israel?

Goldie: We couldn't go to Israel. We didn't have a chance. We needed a certificate; the English didn't allow you just to go to Israel. So you tried

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to escape wherever you had a chance. For most of the young people, their place to go was Israel. Also, in the orthodox homes, the parents did not agree. I know that Chana wanted to go to Israel, but my father wouldn't let her.

Question: In that case, why did they allow you to go to an agricultural school? It wasn't just an agricultural school?

Goldie: No, it wasn't. The anti-Semitism in Germany was growing. The young people were running away from Germany, so a lot of them came to Lithuania. They came to the ORT school, learned a trade, and received a certificate. Because they were farmers and were qualified to do some work, they had the right to go to Israel. They were able to go to Israel, escape the Nazis, and survive. But England did not let the Jews, the young people, to come in. You needed the certificate. Some got a certificate, and some did not.

Question: How many students were in the school when you were there?

Goldie: There were mostly from Germany, young people, and from Lithuania-about a hundred or more. You lived there.

Question: How long were you at that school?

Goldie: About three-quarters of a year.

Question: And how old were you?

Goldie: I was seventeen or eighteen. Then Yakov went to Israel. He left his family and went to Israel. He was in Dagania and the head of the agricultural department. He bought a home and some land in Tel Aviv. He was planning to come and to bring his wife and two children. When he came back to Lithuania in order to bring the family, the war

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broke out, and he didn't have a chance to get out anymore. So that's why he remained in Lithuania.

Question: What happened to you after the agricultural school?

Goldie: I was in the agricultural school, then I lived in Kovno, and I got a job; I also took bookkeeping courses, and so I got a job in a bank. Yisroel already was established in Kovno. Everybody knew him, so it was no problem for me to get a job. There was the head bookkeeper, David Liachberg. You know that chapter, my chapter, about my husband, in Yakov's book? He was the head of the bookkeeping. He was much older, and he fell in love with me. He came to visit our home; he was invited to our home in Abel. My parents approved, and we got married.

The family met in a place halfWay between Abel and Kovno-I can't remember the name of the place already-where you could have a wedding. So his family came, and my family came. He was already working in his job, and I was working. We got an apartment, and we lived not far from my brother Yisroel; actually, it was in a building that belonged to my brother. I had my first child.

Question: How old were you?

Goldie: Probably twenty or twenty-one or twenty-two.

Question: What was your child's name?

Goldie: Manya. Manya-Mariasha, named after my grandmother.

 

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