Sokoliver Jack Ablove's account of life in Sokolivka and Immigration Challenges

Thanks to the Ablove family for sharing with us what it was like for women in Sokilivka through Jack's moving description of life in Sokolivka with his mother, whose husband emigrated 9 years before she did, and for sharing the immigration journeys of he and his mother (1921) and his grandparents (1927): Bertha Ablove - Bruha Ablovesky - who is she? Where did she come from? She comes from a little shtetle in the Ukraine called Sukeliefke. In Sukelefke she was known as Brucha - Pinya [ben] Yakov Kalman's tochter (daughter).... I'll try to remember her activities and life - our father Yichiel left for America in 1912. Mother and I came to Buffalo on May 1st, 1921.

In Sukelefke before World War I, the Revolution and Pogroms, she was the letter writer for the illiterate women in town whose husbands were in America. Often she had to write heart breaking letters to remind the husbands to send money to their families so they could have food.

During one of the pogroms, by quick thinking, she saved the life of one of our Lantzlut, Lieber Obstein, who later became my father-in-law. It happened this way: Lieber, whose business was near our maternal Zadies home (where mother and I lived) did not have time to run and hide, so he ran into our home. I was laid up with Typhus fever and mother quick threw him into a bed, put the icepack on his head and stood in the doorway of the bedroom with her right hand on the door post. When the bandits rushed into the house, she said to them in Russian, "You don't want to come in, there is typhus fever and you might catch the disease." The bandit looked in, hit mother with the blunt side of the sword and walked out.

Then came the revolution - no private enterprise. Zadie could not carry on his business, but mother found a way to make a living for us. She discovered somebody making black market soap. She peddled the soap at different markets at the risk of her life. Finally we had to leave Sukelefke because the town had been burned out and was desolate.

We moved to the big city Uman. There mother again proved her courage. Zadie was caught peddling a skin he bought from somebody who was slaughtering cattle on the black market. The verdict from a "Kangaroo Court" - Hang him. Mother took me and pleaded with the judges. She saved Zadie's life.

Now came rumors in the year of 1920 that people were stealing their way across the border into Bessarabia then into Romania becoming Romanian citizens and going to America. By that time she had not heard from Pa since 1917, but that did not stop her. With three kinds of money - worthless paper money - plus whatever valuables she had saved from the pogroms, she decided to barter her way to Romania to establish contact with our father.

A sad incident, Pa's younger sister was on the wagon to start on the unknown journey with us when a special messenger came from a paternal zadie for her to go back. He did not want to lose another child to G'd knows where. Had the messenger been one hour later our aunt would have been here [in Buffalo].

After trials and tribulations, we arrived in Buffalo on May 1st, 1921.1

Zadie would not come because he did not want to become a burden. How did Zadie and Bubie come to America? About 1925 Bubie started to tell Zadie that they were coming to the end of their days and that they should be near the two daughters that were alive. They started out for America through Canada (because there was recognition between Russia and Canada). Bubie died from pnemonia the day before the boat landed. The body was brought to America.2

1 The April 1921 boat record of Brucha Ablovsca and her son on the SS Adriatic does indeed describe them as Romanian citizens, who left a friend Mr. Gelman, Titovson No. 3, Ohisinau, Romania, to join her husband in Buffalo, NY.

2 Sokolivker Basia Chtourman's Visa, Boat Journey and Death

 Compiled by Dr. Sarah J. Greenwald
Last Modified: May, 2013 - SJG
Copyright © 2013 Sarah J. Greenwald

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