Kholmech Sign and Book of Letters
Letter 1: "OK, Baska, let's say goodbye in a letter...Let your life in America be
                your reward for all the sufferings you've had before"

July 12, 1913
    [All letters in Russian unless otherwise noted;
    Names or dates in brackets indicate a reasonable surmise; with a question mark, a guess.
    Translators' or my amplifications, interpretations, or comments also appear in brackets.]

Dear Baska,

     Your letter with a picture of your house and a postcard from the wedding I have received, and I am very
grateful for this letter and the pictures. My dear sister, I am very sad I could not say goodbye to you personally.

     Four years ago, I didn't believe someone from our family could go to the United States, but what can you do,
not everything can be done the way you want it. I want terribly to look at you [before you go]. I would like to see
you before your departure--but this is impossible. That's why I am so happy to get the picture. I can say goodbye
while looking at your face. I look at your face and wish for you everything you want in a new place.

     Forgive me that till now I didn't write you. I am afraid this letter might miss you. There has been so much
work in the store and it's been so hot, it's been hard to write. OK, Baska, let's say goodbye in a letter.

     First have a safe trip and a happy life in America. Let your life in America be your reward for all the sufferings
you've had before. Let God bless you and give you strength and health to settle in a new place, and have
everything you want in your new life. But listen Baska, do not forget about us. We will worry about you if you
don't write to us often. You know how much we love each other and how much we are devoted to each other.
Never forget about us. Therefore you must write to us all the time and about everything. I agree and I approve of
your decision and I am glad for it. Good girl.  I hope it won't take you long to settle into living in America, and to get work and have pleasure. Keep your spirit high. Be energetic, have hope. Do not lose your spirit under any
circumstances. And look energetically through the eyes of life. I am sure you will be satisfied that you left.
     Maybe we will have a chance to meet again--everything is possible.
     Forgive me Baska, but I know that you did not see many people in your life and seldom had relationships and
therefore listen to the advice of an older brother. Don't be too trustful with people you don't know, especially in a
foreign land. Be cautious, there are many bad people, actually more bad people than good people.  I am telling
this to you in general, because you are just a young woman who hasn't seen the big world.

     I promise to you I will write, and I ask you to write to me here. When you'll be on the ship, definitely send me a postcard. And especially on the day of your arrival in New York. Please know, Baska, that I am exactly the
same Mikhail [Michael] who loves you all and never forgets anyone. I was only too lazy to write. But I won't
change. I won't become a cold person to you. My soul is always with you and feels for you, I feel pain if you do. But right now, I cannot help you with anything because of how circumstances have changed for the worse.

[end missing]
                                                                                           Mikhail Rapoport


Letter 2: "Write ...if they let you into America"

September 21 [1913]

Dear sister Bessie!

 We have received your closed letter.  I am very grateful for your regards to me.  I am very glad when I read your letter, that you are, thank God, well.  Dear Bessie, write if you got your baggage, and if everything is in one piece, and if everything that you have sewn for yourself fits, and if they let you into America.  In other words, dear Bessie, write about yourself and don't be sad, because it will not change anything...

 ...but I think it will be long before I can talk to you in person, but we have to have hope.  Dear Bessie, of course, you want to know about my health.  I can write to you that I am very well.  Hopefully, I will hear the same from you.  The amount of work increases every day.  Actually, you know, it is always so before the holiday.  On September 22, there will be a wedding here, of Rachael Lishanski...

 ...[they] work all week long, of course, but on Saturday or during the holidays, they wander the streets all day long. So, my dear Bessie, don't be sorry to have got away from this miserable "back of the beyond."

 My dear, everyone is sending regards to you, especially my friends, Esfir and Luba.  They are hurt that you don't write to them. Luba is also going to America, i.e., to Chicago.  Freida Giofts is also sending her best to you. She came to see us and asked...

 Give my regards to Uncle Moishe, to Niham and the children, to Manka, Sonka, Maika [Malka?], and Leiba and all our relatives.

[This letter continues]

September 24

Dear Sister Bessie.

 We have received your closed letter.  I am very grateful for your regards to me.  Please, don't forget us in the future.  I will never forget you and will answer to your letters gratefully.  I can write that I am well, thank God.  I hope that I will hear the same from you.  I remain your loving sister, Sonya...


Letter 3: "Please write about your health and if you have you heard about your luggage"

September 24 [1913}

Dear sister Basya,

 Your letter, for which we waited impatiently, we received. I cannot write our feelings to you my dear sister when we were reading your dearest letter, when we read you were healthy and felt fine. I am so glad that you visited Aunt Rachel. You remember my dear that before you left I told you that you will be soon be at our Aunt's house because I knew that only in aunt and uncle's house you will feel as if you were home. I am asking you not to think about us. Take care of your health. You must remember one thing: that you must be healthy because you are away from your Motherland and you must work for yourself.  So the most important thing is to take care of yourself. Try not to worry much when you do not receive letters from us when you think they should come. I only know I write once a week and you should receive them once a week. Before I was writing all the letters to Uncle Aron's address and before that I sent to the address of Galpirin an open card but I didn't know the apartment number. Did you get the postcard? I don't know. I already wrote to you. You like to have letters often. You probably know it is difficult to find the time to write, but to write a postcard I can anytime even if I am very busy. And I am trying to keep my promise to write weekly. At the same time, I never received anything from you that often. Therefore I am asking you one more time. So try not to worry and try not to miss us. If you'll be healthy and you won't painfully miss us, we'll feel much better here.

 Please write about your health and if you have heard about your luggage. Did you receive it and is everything in there in one piece. Someone told us you didn't get it all. We are very worried about you, but you never answered our questions. Most important, please write about your health and how you spend your time. My life is boring as you know. I don't have anything in common with anyone here. I am busy. Saturday I am at home. I read or I walk with aunt [a reference to their step-mother?]. At night I sit with aunt or with Neesle. We have nothing new in our life. Father is still in Yekaterinoslav but he didn't decide yet. He may come back home on Succoth and maybe for the New Year. We will have to ask for God's help. We have to hope that we will see each other again, and that we will be healthy, and not that needy. We have had enough bad things happening to us. So it is the time to have something better in life.
 Chaim sends letters to us once a week. Today we received a postcard from him. He is in Brest-Litivsk. He plans to come home during Succoth.  The military draft begins Oct. 18 [and he will be drafted]. We hope God will bless us with good news to free ourselves from this. We will not forget to write you, Basya, about it if this happens.  But try not to say much about our misfortunes. You must live.

[Khaya ?]
[Unsigned but seems like end of letter. Translator believes handwriting
is similar to an earlier one by Khaya]


Letter 4: "It is very boring here, and I miss you...Please write if all your and Niham's
                 baggage came through"

3.'s the 4th week.  There is no news, so far.  We get a letter from him every week.  Michael is also writing.  They're, thank God, well.  We get letters from Chaim every week too.  He feels OK.  Our Hanka left for Rechitsa last Saturday, and she hasn't come home yet.  I think she is coming back home tomorrow.  There is some work in the shop.  The business is as usual.  There were fairs this month, and we traded a little.  Belka and Yankel and Mikhlechka, thank God, are well.  Mikhlechka and Roska are singing.  But there isn't much news.  We are all, thank God, well and healthy.  It is very boring here, especially for me, and I miss you.  I have nobody to talk with.  But what can we do, we have to deal with it and hope for the future.  Please write if all your and Niham's baggage came through.  I guess that by the time you get this letter, you will be working on a new job.  So describe it to me.  Write about everything in detail.  I will be very grateful if you do.  And I hope that ...


Letter 5: "My heart aches because we're so far apart..."

In Yiddish
November 3 [1913]

Dearest sister BatSheba, live in good fortune.

We got your card long ago which I answered right away. You probably already received it. I ask you, my dear sister, answer me about your health and everything else in detail.

How are you spending your time? How did you enjoy Pesach? It's now Chalamaid Pesach and I'm reminding you to write me a long letter.

My heart aches because we're so far apart, only, we must see, dear sister, that you should write about your life and health which is very dear to us. From my side, I can tell you that I'll certainly try to write often, and if I can, I'll see to it that everyone should write.

I'm letting you know, dear Sister, with pleasure, that we got a letter from home and it's good to get it because who knows if we'll see each other. It is like seeing each other face to face. You can't imagine the joy when we get your letters.

I read it and I have a few questions, but I remain silent when to comes to writing.  We're limited as to what we can say through letters. Our writing carries everyone's regards and we're all, thank God, well.

The time goes by and we're all in good health but I'm waiting for happier times. We wrote to our uncle and everything is the same. He has a few problems to solve, but he is waiting until after his induction into the army. He'll take care of things himself because we both can't do it.

 Zisha will send Greters [?] wine and I'm sending you a picture taken in our house. The other pictures aren't ready yet. I know you'll get pleasure from the picture. When the others are ready, we'll send them to our aunt and others whom we find necessary. We ask you to take a picture of yourself and send it to us.

Write us how Moshe Gilfernan lives and how is Chanke, Senka, Chayke, and Laibke. Why don't they write us any letters? In Chaimetz [Khlomich], everything is as before, no changes.

We got a letter from Michael. He is, thank God, well. What's the reason you don't write a letter to Nochum?

Regards to the Chernovka family and Gitl Chaizdein and Mirtl and Mirel Shlomo Prist and Khaya. Also regards from Zula Lifshitz and from myself.

This is enough for this letter. The noise interferes and therefore, my writing doesn't come out good, but I don't want to delay it.

I wish you, dear, should be well. Father, he should be well, already wrote and this letter must go out today. Since everyone's leaving, there's no time for them to write and I'm sure you understand this.

From me, your sister, who wishes you health, luck, and waits for your letter.

Dear sister, Uncle Aaron, my dear Aunt Rokhel live fortunate with your dear children, I ask you to write us about your health and your life. I hope that I will, with pleasure, joy, and appreciation, answer you.

We're all, thank God, well and there's no news here. Write letters more often. Regards to Nusia, Borge, and especially Tzilke. They should also write us their regards.

         From your niece who wishes you luck and health,


Letter 6: "I would like to see Choimetsh again and haven't lost hope of doing so"

In Yiddish

Wednesday - November 26, 1913

Friend Bessie Rapoport,

Finally, I'm writing to you pardon me for being silent up to now. I was very busy.

I can write you that I'll soon be in New York. It's been a few weeks since I came back to Roshenbuna. I missed the comforts of home. Now, they won't let me go, but it won't help, because I'm going to New York.

I can write you that Timafli already came and he brought regards from Choimetsh [Kholmich] and he told us that there's nothing new there.

I would like to see Choimetsh again and haven't lost hope of doing so. I hope that the Eternal One will allow me to do this before I leave.

I'll write you the address where you can answer me.

Regards to uncle and aunt, and the children. From my side, regards from Michael Kinen and Sara Kohon.

I would want to have an answer from you quickly.

Your friend, Rokhel Bagdanan

You may have forgotten who this is: it's Rokhel Brarre Matemnishen


Letter 7: "There is not much news in our life"


Dear Aunt [Rakhil Friedman],

 First I can write that I have received your letter for which I am very grateful. We are all healthy. I hope that you are as good as we are. There is not much news in our life. Dear aunt, I would like to tell you that I would like to take a photograph of Hanna closer to the summer and send it to you.

 What can I write to you about her. She is in Russia. She is beautiful. And she is successful. Write to me please how your children are and what are they doing? And how is the uncle? And how is your job? What does your Hanna [?] do?  Is she studying? Aunt, I ask you to send me letters often and I will be very grateful to you. Send my regards to Uncle Aron. Why doesn't he write to me directly? Hello to all the children and kiss them from me.

 I don't have anything else to write to you. Be healthy. The letter is from your sister and your niece,

Chaim Lepkin. I send two letters but didn't get the answers yet. If he will visit you please tell him so he will write to me. Give my address to him. Maybe he didn't receive my letters.


Letter 8: "Dear do you spend your free time?"

Russian/ Yiddish [not translated]

My dear sister Baska,

 We have received your postcard. Thank you very much. And thank you for mentioning my name in your letter. I am very grateful you have not forgotten me. Even so I feel guilty I haven't written to you directly. Forgive me. But I don't have much free time and in the future I will try to be more responsible. I have enough work. I have the same helper as I had before and now a girl is learning from me how to sew and I charge her 10 rubles a year. This is the only news. Everything else is the same.

 Dear Baskya, write what's is in your life, how's your life, how do you spend your free time and do you go often to Uncle Moishe [?]. How is their life? Mikhail received a letter from Aunt Rachel in which she is saying that you were all sick. Please write how is your health my dear. Write to us how you feel and if you make enough money. Write in detail and I wish as your sister, the best for you in your life. I love and I kiss you,

Hanna Rapoport
Please send my regards to Aunt Rachel and Uncle Aaron with their children, especially send my regards to Uncle Maishe [?] with his family. [My father believes this refers to the Halperins--or in Russian the "Galpirins"-- whose original name he thinks was "Goldfarben"].
Your sister, Hanna
Dear Baska,

 There is nothing new. Everything is the same. Mamma was sick and this is why she didn't write to you a separate letter. She has started to get up and she is getting better, but I am healthy and I wish that you are too. As a matter of fact, I gained some weight and became a round woman. When we have something new, I will write to you more. Again, hello to Uncle Aaron and Aunt Rachel with their children and to Uncle Maishe, with his family.  Your sister,

Hanna Rapoport


Letter 9: "God should give you luck"

In Yiddish

To Mr. Aaron Friedman and to my dearest sister Khaya Rokhel.
Live forever fortunate together and we should hear good news from afar.

We find ourselves in the best of health and hope to God we'll hear the same from you.

Even though you didn't write me about your travels, I heard that you arrived at your destination and thank God for that.

Dear niece Batsheba, I thank you a lot for your regards to me. God should give you luck, fortune, and what ever you desire, also whatever Uncle Gershon Rapoport desires.

Meanwhile, regards to Moishe Goldfarben [Jerry Schechter says this name was almost certainly changed to "Galpirin" or "Halperin" in English] and his children. Tell them that I asked them to write.  Also, regards to Mr. Hant. I hope God finds him in the best of health, thank God. I send him all my regards only I don't hear from anyone because we don't get any mail here.

Aunt Hanna spent 4 months in Soltenavna at her aunt's and she had a good time.

Honored brother-in-law Aaron, sister Khaya Rokhel and your dear children, and also to my niece BatSheva, you should live in fortune. We were very happy that God brought you back in good health. Write me in detail about your health and everything else.

Sara talks about you all the time. Regards to everyone in my name, you know whom I mean.

From me,

Rivka Rapoport.


Letter 10: " is not getting better"

...probably received a letter from Dad and Michael; If there is any good news I will immediately tell you. I got a letter from Vera. She is well, although life is not getting better. She is sending you greetings. And yesterday we are received your letters. Give my best to Uncle Moisei and to Huham [Niham?], with the children, and especially to Hanka, Sonka, Khaika, and Leiba. I am asking them to write some time. I will write to them separately in my next letter. Now I have no time. I am in a hurry to end this letter, because I know you are waiting for it. Give my regards to Uncle Araon and Aunt Rachel, and their children. How is aunt feeling after the trip? Have they settled? Write about everything. Give my best to everyone in Kholmich. I wish you all the best. I am impatiently waiting for your letters. Your sister...

[This note was added in Yiddish]

I wrote this letter yesterday. Only Yosel added regards and I didn't want to send this letter without it. He came today, so I'm sending you his regards.

[Written by a sister]


Letter 11: "I can't borrow anything and can't pay anything off"

In Yiddish

Dearest Uncle Aaron, Dearest Aunt Khaya Rokhel! Live well with your dear children.

We got your loving regards and read with joy that you're well and we thank you for the enjoyment that was created by your dear regards. We hope to write no worse from us. Write often about your health and how you've settled and what the children are doing. Write about each one individually. From my side, I hope I'll answer you with joy.

Dear Aunt, you write that you sent us a letter for Martin, we've had no letters since you left.

About Miezer, we didn't know when he was going and when we were in Gomel, Aunt Khaya Rivka told us that they hear nothing from you. I can write you that there's no news here and everyone is well.

When there's good news, I'll certainly write. I can't borrow anything and can't pay anything off.

I ask you to write me, my dear cousin, and my children [?] send you regards for the New Year and most important is your health and especially, mother's health.

From your niece and cousin, who wishes you health and good life.



Letter 12: "...only God should heal him"

In Yiddish

To My Dear Brother Aaron and My Dear Sister Rokhel, and also to my Dear Nieces and Hilik Nichol, should all live with much nakhes, 'Amen'.

My dears, I'm sending you back this letter which came back without regards from you. As I understand it, they couldn't find you in the old address.

Now I can send regards from Aaron Moshe. Today he came from Kanberinoislav [Ekaterinoslav?] and he accomplished a lot there. God should give success for the New Year here in Chaimetz [Kholmich]!

About us, I can't write much. We're all, thank God, healthy and hope to hear the same from you.

Abraham lies in the hospital where they made an operation on him. He may be home for Sukkos, only God should heal him. It costs a lot of money. God should have pity on him and help us with the money for the operation. God should help us all.

There's no other news from us. God give that things should get better and everyone should be well and fortunate.

From your sister and aunt who awaits a letter,
Rivka Raisel

Give regards to Michla's children, should all be well and lucky. Also a special regards to Batsheba, should be well and lucky, as wishes from her aunt's deepest heart. Also, my dear children, send warm regards and wishes for a happy Simchas Torah, from your aunt who loves you all.

Letter 13: "Do you go to the theater often?...Do you work in a shop?"

In Yiddish

Dear sister BatSheba, Live.

We got your card with joy. Here, we find ourselves in the best of health. God give we should hear the same from you.

I ask you dear sister, try to write me more often as per my request and write me about your life and how you feel healthwise.

Do you go to the theater often? How do you spend Sundays? Did you go to Nelson's [Bessie's cousins] wedding? Do you have steady work? Do you work in a shop? How much do you make a week? Write about everything. I ask you to write a card.

I'm writing this in the store and it's noisy in my head. I will lock the store. I'll write everything in the second letter.

Send photographs and cards. Regards to Uncle Aaron and Aunt Khaya Rokhel and the children. They should live and be well.


Letter 14: "Do you have steady work?"

In Yiddish

Dear Uncle Aaron. Dear Aunt Rochel! Live fortunate with your children.

I ask you my dears to write about everyone's health and how things are going and how you make a living. Do you have steady work? In one word, you can believe us that we are interested in your life and also in your health.

With us, there's no news. Everything is as before. We all send you heartfelt regards. Regards to Borge and kiss Tzilke. I ask that she should write sometimes.

Regards from me, your niece and cousin who wishes you luck and health. I am anxious to read your regards.

Khaya Rapoport
I ask you to send a heartfelt regards from my part to dear Tzerna.


Letter 15: "The river opened up today and I am moving"

In Yiddish

Dear daughter BatSheba,

I'm writing you with the excuse that my absent-mindedness in regards to not writing you was caused by my thinking about borrowing money for merchandise. Only, this is a lie. You could call it laziness and I know the aggravation you get from my not writing.

You know how lazy I am, so don't eat your heart out and be satisfied with fewer letters.

About my health, we're generally in good health. Our income, as you understand, is limited by how expensive it is to live.

The river opened up today and I am moving. The house where I'm going has been empty for three days without tenants.

Please write often and in detail about everything. How do you spend your time? Did you make anything to wear? About how much do you spend a week. Did you have enough to make shoes? Do Aunt Khaya Rokhel and Uncle Aaron earn anything? Please send regards to them and the children. Also a special regards to Tzierke and Gelfernan's children. Send them my regards.

Be well with enjoyment as wishes your father

My Sister BatSheba, live always.

Firstly, I can write you that I'm, thank God, well and hope to hear the same from you.
We got your card and I ask you furthermore, not to delay writing often. Write how you are in health and how do you spend your time and how do you manage your income? Did you get a raise? Do you still work in the same shop? How hard is your work? Do you still study with Leon Solomon? Write everything in a detailed letter.

I made myself a jacket for Pesach. I still wear the same coat which I bought in Gomel. I bought it with a hat.


Letter 16: "You write much about your life, but little about your health"

In Yiddish

Fully Devoted and Dear Sister Batsheba -live forever fortunate and in the greatest joy
Dear Sister, I read your regards to me with great joy. I thank you many times for this.

You write me much about your life, but little about your health. We got a report that you were not in the best of health but you didn't write anything about this.

We are very concerned. Write us what was the matter with you, whether you had a cold, or if you had stomach problems. Write what the problem with you was.

And how do you feel in health now? How do you spend your time? Are you studying in school or are you still doing the same work which you wrote us about or did you take on other work?

How much do you take in and how much do you make each month? Do you still work in the same factory as before or in another one?

Do you see Aunt Riva Raisel's children often?


Letter 17: "...if you meet the right one...If he's worthy, you will see it"

In Yiddish

...How is Khaya Rokhel in health and have you work every day? If you should see the Gelderuns, please send them a healthy regards on my part. They forgot to write me a letter. They know that their mother, my sister Michla, she should have a bright Garden of Eden, was very dear to me. I would like to hear from her children. [From this passage, it appears that Moishe Rapoport had a sister, by then deceased, who was named Michla. This is not to be confused with Moishe's own daughter?and Bessie's sister?who had the same name, perhaps in honor of her aunt].

I don't think I sinned against them, but the only thing they have against me is that I'm not rich. Give heartfelt regards to dear Tziernan.

About our finances, things are no better. God should improve the situation. Everything in due time.

Write, my daughter, if you meet the right one and if it happens, don't do anything until you find out what kind of man he is. If he's worthy, you will see it.

[Moishe Rapoport]


Letter 18: "I am very bored here"

Russian/Yiddish [not translated]

My dear sister Bessie,

 We have received your postcard.  I am very grateful for it.  Please, write again in the future, my dear, and I hope I will be able to respond to you.  Dear Bessie, you are probably wondering about my well-being.  I can write that I am well, and I hope to hear same from you.  I am very bored here.  I spend time as usual.  There was a lot of work for me before Easter, and I believe it will stay this way.  I bought myself a brown skirt and shoes.  But there is no real news.  Write about yourself.  How is life, how do you spend your free time?  Write about everything in detail.  Your sister who wishes you all the best and awaits your answer,


 Give my best to uncle, and Aunt Rachael and their children, to Leiba, Chernyak, and all our friends.


Letter 19: "I still live by this hope that one day I will go. I don't have a very merry life.
                     You know what Kholmich is"

My dear sister Baska,

 We received your postcard and we are grateful for it. Thank you very much for the warm hello. I do not write to you often. In the future I will try to write to you more. I didn't have much time before. As you know before the holiday season [Shevuous?] I am very busy but now I am no longer. Marinka does not work for me anymore. She is in Reygitz. Only Gera works for me.

 Dear Baska, I made myself a white blouse from "batiste" and it has a style like a bat so I can fly directly to you, to see you, to talk to you, but it is only a hope. I don't think it will happen soon. But I still live by this hope that one day I will go. I don't have a very merry life.  You know what Kholmich is. Write to me about your life, how you live. Write about your health, about everything. Yes, dear Baskya, you wrote that you will satisfy our wish and will send a photograph. Please my dear, pose for a picture and send it to us and we will enjoy looking at it. At least a picture. I would write more to you, but it is getting late and it is time to go to sleep. Your sister, who is waiting for your letter and who is kissing you,

Hanna Rapoport
[On side of letter the following is written]

Please send "tanger" [?] and hello from all of my girlfriends. Good-bye again.


Letter 20: "...Khazanov's son poisoned himself"

Dear sister Bessie.

 I can write that I am well and healthy.  I hope to hear the same from you.  Dear sister, we have received your cards.  I am very grateful for your regards to me.  I ask you to write in the future.  And as for me, I will never stop writing.  Your sister, who wishes you all the best, Sonya Rapoport.  Send my greetings to Uncle Aaron and Aunt Rachael, also to Nyusya.  Tell her that I was asking her to write me herself.  Also write what she's doing...

 ...It is incredibly boring here.  As you already know, there is nobody to talk to here, in Kholmich.  But there is nothing we can do about this.

 On the 7th of January, Golda Lyubovitsky had a wedding, and we were there.  We had a great time.  Today, we received a letter from Chaim.  He writes that Khazanov's son poisoned himself, but we don't know which one.  It was probably, the eldest who is 16-years old.

 Dear Bessie, if you can, take a picture of yourself and send it to us.  We would be very happy.

 There is nothing more to write.  Good night.  Your sister who is waiting for your letter impatiently,



Letter 21: "...we hope the above one will let us hear better news"

 In Yiddish

Dear Sister BatSheba, Live forever fortunate. This would be my greatest joy.

                    We read your dear regards with great joy and I thank you many times for it. We also thank you for not forgetting me and everyone else. I ask you also, dear sister, not to stop writing letters.

Pardon me for not writing for such a long time and from now on, I'll write you more often. The reason I didn't write is my old age. This is only an excuse which you know because I always seem to be too busy to write a few words. The real reason for my not writing is that I'm not a letter writer. You feel closer when you write and we have to try as much as possible to write each other more often.

What should I write you, my dear sister? Everything with us is the same. There's no special news here. We are all, thank God, well and materialistically things are not getting better. God should have pity, but we hope the above one will let us hear better news.

We have nothing more to write you. Regards to Uncle Aaron and Aunt Khaya Rokhel and their dear children. They should live with health. Also regards to all the children and dear Tzierke. Heartfelt regards to all.

I write this letter in a hurry because the mail is leaving.

 Your brother and nephew, Nissen


Letter 22: "I am very grateful that you don't forget me"

Russian/Yiddish [not translated]

Dear Bessie,

 I have received your regards, and I am very grateful that you don't forget me.  I ask you to write in the future and hope that I will be able to write more myself, although there is no news, everything is as usual.  I spent 4 weeks in Zababie.  I had a lot of fun.  Thank God, I am well, and I hope to hear the same from you.  Your sister Anyuta [?] gives her regards to Uncle Aaron and Aunt Rachael and the children, and also to Uncle Moishe and his wife and the children, especially Hanka [Anna Halperin]. All our relatives give their best to you.  They would have written to you separately, but it is right before the holiday.  They will write something in the next letter.


Letter 23: "Your life is just beginning...You must try not to get homesick"

Dear sister Bessie,

 We have received your letter dating the 15th.  We read it and learned that you are, thank God, well and healthy.  I have already responded to your closed letter with an open letter.  Perhaps, you have already received it.  We got your postcard today.  Dear sister, we are very grateful that you don't make us wait for your wonderful letters too long.  I ask you to write often in the future, and I will also try to write often.  We are very sorry that the previous letters we've sent you were not very neat and accurate.  The reason is that we were expecting your first letter to come a week earlier.  This waiting didn't let us write.  We were very worried, but now we understand that it was groundless.

 My dear, I don't know..., there is nothing new here.  We are all well, thank God.  The business (trade) in the shop is not getting better, but we are already used to it.

 I am very happy to know that you feel fine, and that you keep in touch with all our old friends.  But the most important thing is that you are all right.  Please write how is your financial condition.  How much does food and your apartment cost?  Where do you work and what do you do?  I think that by the time you get this letter, you will probably find a job and be working.  Write about all the things you have got (bought), tell me if your old clothes still fit and so on. Does Hanka work?  What is Leiba doing?  Anyway, if it's not too hard for you , write about everything in detail.

 Today we received an open letter from father.  He is well, thank God.  There is nothing new yet.  He writes that if there is some good news, he will write me another letter this week.  And I, of course, will write to you.  Father writes that he's got your letter and that he's already answered to it.  We are also receiving letters from Chaim every week, and he writes that he's got your letter and responded to it too.

 I ask you, my sister, try not to think about your relatives so much.  Try to just be cheerful and not to ruin your health.  You must remember that your life is just beginning, and you have to work for yourself.  So if you are healthy, then, with time, you will be able to help your relatives.  It's very important for us to know that you are healthy and that you are not driving yourself into despair because of some silly things.  You must try not to get homesick, and then it would be easier for us.

 On Saturday, I received a letter from Vera and wrote back immediately, but I forgot to give her your address.  I will send it to her in my next letter.


Letter 24: "I ask you one more time, write often"

...I ask you to write about the family of Galpirin, especially about Hanna, Sonka, Maika, and Leiba.  Why don't they ever write us about themselves.  Give me their addresses.  Give my regards to my relatives, if you see them.

 Aunt Tsirya moved from Rechitsa to Yaroslavl.  They have a good life there.

 I think I will go to Rechitsa [Reygitz] for a couple of days after Saturday.  I ask you one more time, write often.  Be well.  Your sister, who wishes you all the best and waits for your letters, Khaya.  Please, apologize to your friend for me, because I've written such a short letter to him.  I will write more next time.  Your Khaya.

My dear uncle and aunt,

 I'm very grateful for your letter.  Try to write often in the future about your health.  I hope I will be able to answer you with gratitude.  Give my best to Nyusya and Borka and especially to my dear Tsilka.  Your Khaya.


Letter 25: "There is no one to talk to and no where to go in Kholmich"

Dear sister Bessie.

 I have received your closed letter.  I am very grateful that you do not forget me and ask you not to forget me in the future.  Dear sister, write about your health and how you spend your free time.  About myself, I can write that I am well and spend time ordinarily.  I ask you to write often, and I will gratefully answer.  Give my regards to uncle and Aunt Rachael, Nyusya, Khaika, Hanka, and Sonka and Niham, and our other relatives from me.

Your loving, Sonya Rapoport
Dear sister Bessie!

 We have received your closed letter and also the postcard.  I am very grateful for your regards to me.  I am very happy when I read your letter and when I hear that you're well.  Dear Bessie, you probably want to know about my health.  I can tell you that I am perfectly healthy.  I hope to hear the same from you.  My dear, you feel hurt that I don't write.  There is a reason for that.  I spent a week and a half in Rechitsa.  I had a great time there.  Uncle Nissen bought me almonds.  He remembered you every minute.  Dear, everybody in Rechitsa asks if there is any news from you, any letters, especially the Fishmans.  They send you their regards.

 Then, when I came back home, I, naturally, started working right away.  The amount of work increases every day, because the holiday is coming.  I have the same woman working for me as before.

 On August 28, I am going to Kiev.  I was called to be a witness for Bertha with whom I worked.  She is going against Ravikovich.  Anyway, my life is very dull.  There is no one to talk to and nowhere to go in Kholmich.

 Dear Bessie, I miss you very much.  I would like to talk to you in person.  But we can't do anything.  I don't have any news.  Everything is as usual.  I would write more, but it is late and time to go to bed.  It is past midnight, and tomorrow, I have to get up early and go to work.  Good-bye, my dear and loving sister.  I wish to hear from you soon.

Kiss you warmly,  Hanna
[The letter continues]

Dear Aunt Rachel and Uncle Aaron!

 I am very grateful for your regards to me.  I am very glad to read your letter and to hear that you arrived there safely.  Write about your life and what's new, about the children.  Write about everything in detail.  Send my regards to Uncle Maisha, Niham and his children and all the others, especially to Hanka, Sonka, Khaika and Leiba, and also to Leiba Chyernyak.  Dear Bessie, Esfir and Luba are sending their regards to you too.


Letter 26: "They drafted Shlomo Paretz and his brothers...God should have pity  on us"

In Yiddish
Two fragments
              We should have better times. I'll be at Moishe's for Yontov. They  were here a few times. Moishe Chuvin bought Moishe Mieslin's house and moved in on Shevuous. They drafted Shlomo Paretz and his brothers, but, thank God, they're not in the war. They're in Dvinsk which means that they're not in combat and they're happy with this. It's better than being in the war

You may get a letter from them. We get good reports from them to hear from them that they're well. Meanwhile, the situation is quiet. We are all, thank God, well and God should give for further and no worse.

*             *             *

I ask you dear sister, to write often about your health because it interests me more than anything. Meanwhile, I can't write you enough about the joy we get from your letters and hearing about your good health.

We got a picture from Retzitze. They're well and God should give them luck. We must now ask from God that he should come home healthy. We hope for better times and God should have pity on us.


Letter 27: "Trade is slow"

Dear sister Bessie!

 First of all, I can tell you that all of us are well, and everything is as usual.  We work in the shop as always.  On Sundays, when more people come, the business is better (we earn about 30 - 35 rubles).  But during the week, the trade is slow.  There are different days ? some better and some worse.  Of course, if we had more goods to sell, then it would have been better.  But it's OK.  The only really bad thing is that we haven't gotten a letter from you, which worries us greatly, although we know that letters from America come with great difficulty, especially if they are not sent priority mail.  That's why I ask you to send only priority mail letters from now on, dear sister.

 Write about your health and about your news.  Be happy and well, your brother Nissen

 Give my best to aunt and uncle.


Letter 28: "For a long time we didn't get anything from you. One can lose his mind."

July 7

My dear sister Basya,

 It was a long time since we had a conversation through letters. Even so I sent you a postcard every week. But the question is, do you receive the postcards? But we haven't had anything from you for several months. The last postcard which we received you sent in the beginning of January. Can you imagine my dear sister the worries and stress because you don't write for such a long time. Believe me my dear sister, in my thoughts you are always there, during the day and during the night. I think only about you. How is your health, how is your life, do you work, is it enough money to live? Because for a long time we didn't get anything from you. One can lose his mind. We try to comfort ourselves that maybe your letters are lost, but still I think that for such a long time that if you would write some of the letters would be lost but one or two would reach us. We are very worried. I know how lonely you are and how much you wait for our letters. And we try to send you many letters and often. Now people suggest to send registered mail. This kind of mail usually reaches the person you send the letters to. That is why I am asking you my dear sister when you get this letter please try to send us a letter and send it registered mail, because the longer we wait, the more we worry. You cannot imagine how happy I would be to get a letter from you written down by your own hand that you are healthy. The most important thing in a person's life is his health because "if he is healthy, he is wealthy." He can live through anything and he can hope for the better things. I ask you one more time my dear sister try not to wait with the answer to our letter. We will be very grateful if you can do that. All of us sends regards for health, Pappa, Neesen, Hanna, Sonya, Baylya, Yanka, and Minichka.

 We receive letters often from Chaim. He is living now in Babruisk and he is working. He makes 35 rubles [month? year?]. From Michelina and Elizi we also receive letters. They are healthy and send regards. In every letter they send us they ask if we heard from you. Write to us how is uncle and aunt and their children. How are the children of Aunt Michla? Send them my warmest regards, to Aunt and Uncle, with the children. Uncle Gershon and Aunt Reeba with their children are sending their regards to you. Be healthy and happy. I am waiting to hear from you.



Letter 29: "Are you working?  I read that there are thousands of unemployed people.....I
                   don't have any news....Life is boring"

My dear sister Bessie!

 Forgive my long silence.  I can not find words to justify it, but I think you will forgive me.  I will try to write more regularly in the future.  Dear Bessie, indeed, I don't know what to write to you.  I don't have any news, everything is as usual.  Actually, there is some news, but you know it already.  Recently, we didn't have any work, but now, before the holidays, work is slowly getting better.  And the future is in God's hands, we can't do anything about it.

 Life is boring.  I visited the Bolshamovs with Chaim in Ganovka.  We had a lot of fun.  They asked me to give you their regards.

 Anyway, dear Bessie, write about what's new, how you're feeling and how you spend time.  Are you working?  I read that there are thousands of unemployed people.  So, write everything in great detail, because we are curious about everything.  I, your sister Hanna, who wishes you all the best and waits to hear from you soon, send my regards to Uncle Aaron and Aunt Rachael and her children.

Dear sister Bessie.

 We received your postcard.  I am very grateful for your regards.

Letter 30: "Congratulate me, Baskya! I am now a groom"

Half in Russian, half in Yiddish
April 12, 1914

Dear Baskya,

 Congratulate me, Baskya! I am now a groom. This is the best moment in our father's life. With God's help, we will soon have the same joy from Khaya--and from you. My bride's name is Liza ["Laya"  in Yiddish]. She is very nice, a good person with a nice face. She is an intelligent young woman. She is a dentist. She has her own office and she makes good money. She is from a good home. I hope we will have a very happy life.

 They gave a dowry of a $1000 rubles [trans.:" a huge amount of money at that time"]. Soon we will pose for a photograph and I will send it to you. Please write about your life. How much you make, how you spend time, and generally about everything. Forgive my dear that I don't write too often. I don't have much time.

 Well I have to go to my bride. Maybe you know the address of my uncle? Please give my warm regards to Aunt Rakhil[Rachel] and Uncle Aron [Aaron].

Be healthy,
your brother Mikhail
[Yiddish note follows, also written my Mikhail]

Respectful Aunt Rakhil and respectful Uncle Aron,

 Live in full joy and happiness with your loveable children.

 I want you to know that I became a groom this week. I hope that God will give to all of us only good things and good luck and we all hear from each other only good news. How is my uncle? How are you making a living, what are your children doing, especially Tsilka? Now about my bride, Baska will tell you. Good luck. Your nephew,



Letter 31: "...a letter from Michael and his bride Leah"

In Yiddish
Two fragments

Full Fortune I wish my Dear Sister Batsheba. Live in good health.

          Today, we got your note of the 20th of May for which we waited impatiently for three weeks. This week, we sent you a card asking the reason for your silence and today, you made us forever happy with your card, along with a letter from Michael and his bride Leah.

He writes that he wrote you about his engagement to Leah and is waiting for a letter from you.

*      *      *

...Hanna has part-time work. Generally, prices here are cheap. Still, wages don't cover much.

Michael writes that he and Leah will send pictures of themselves. He'll probably send some to you himself. Also, write a postcard to Aunt Rivka


Letter 32: "If you have something to be happy must thank the one above"

In Yiddish

The 2nd September
23rd Elul [1914]

A Happy and Fortunate Year I wish my Devoted Daughter Bat-Sheba - Live!

The reason for my long silence is that I'm guilty of being lazy which you already know about me. I'm always lazy with letters. You know my tardiness.

Furthermore, I'm giving you a mazel-tov for the wedding of Michael which was on Sunday, the 15th of Elul. I was not able to come to the wedding.

In today's time, in this world, if you have something to be happy about and not to frown on, you must thank the one above ...


Letter 33: "We wish you mazel-tov on Michael's wedding. God should give you luck"

In Yiddish


L' Shona Tova Tikvatavu -May you be inscribed in the Book of Life for a good year.

Dear Sister Batsheba! Live in the best enjoyment.

Firstly, you usually want to know about my health which, thank God, is in the best condition.

So, there's not much news. The fact that I'm unemployed now is known because I wrote this in my previous letter. Generally, it's not good to sit without work, only what can you do, we must wait out the bad times. You got my earlier letter which I wrote you not long ago.

We hope you're well and strong..  who wishes you eternal luck and health, your....

We wish you mazel-tov on Michael's wedding. God should give you luck.


Letter 34: "This year all the young boys are sent into the army"

In Yiddish


My dear sister,

 Write often letters to us and write about everything and write only the truth and do not hide anything from us. You know that I would like to know everything in detail how your life is.

 My soul is in pain that you are all by yourselves and don't have anyone from our family, but at the same time I can't say you are all by yourself because you have next to you Aunt Hirahem [Rakhil] and Uncle Aron who treat you as their own child, and you have some people you know next to you. And soon you will have a place to come in.  Sherka Leshny left before last Saturday to America. She promised she would stop by at our house before she left, but she didn't stop by and we didn't know when she left. We felt bad about it. Before she left we asked her family when she was leaving, and they said she already left and we didn't have a chance to send a personal greeting to you.

 About myself I can tell you that I am healthy and that everything else is the same. You know about my life. It didn't improve and it didn't become worse. The entire week I work in a store. It's much harder than it was. Because it takes time to put everything in order. This shop is smaller than the other one. And I need to see where to place the material and find the best spot for it. Shortly I have to go and check the other shop to clean, to sweep and to see the buyers. And this Saturday, I go to sleep right after supper. And when I get up I go to the temple till the time [unclear].  Then I come home, have dinner, and read a little. So I can not rest.

 I would go somewhere, but where can I go? I probably could find someone to visit, but I don't have what to wear, a good overcoat or a winter hat. To walk on a street and measure the sidewalk I don't wish to do.  The circumstances are not improving here. The taxes and what I have to pay to people, I am 200 rubles short. I cannot cover the debt. In addition, there is not enough material left in the shop. Now you can imagine how hard the life is.  Thank God for health, and thank God that we are still high in spirits.

 Chaim was sent home. I can not imagine our happiness when he was sent home from Babruisk and when we received the letter and the government stated he doesn't have to go to the military service. This year all the young boys are sent to the army. They are taking those with physical defects and those who are very short all simply because they didn't have enough local boys to send to the army. For example, Shmul Garshly's was sent but he is very short but they took him for two years. And those who were free from going to the military service last year this year had to go. They took Mikhail Shlovich and Shmulhayem but they ran away to America and then they took someone else. So, there is not much new in Kholmich.

 In the future, I will write more often and about everything. Send my regards to Aunt Hierokle and Uncle Aron and their children. Let them have a good life and be healthy. My regards to Uncle Moishe with his wife Khaya [Halperin, a relative in America]. Stay healthy and happy and don't think about your old house.

                  [The letter continues but written by a different person]

December 7

My dear daughter Barshevbi, Basya,

 Be happy. Your photo we have received and I am very grateful for it. And I am asking you to write in detail, about your health, about your job, about what you make, about the health of Aunt Hierokle[ Rakhil], and about her children and about how much money Aron is making. There is nothing new in our life. We are sitting in our shop. If we would have enough material in our shop we would make more money. Very often we don't have enough what we need. The winter is long and the river is not frozen yet but the last few days it became colder and the snow falls down and it was difficult today to drive to Gomel, because it is impossible to cross the river [rest unclear]. Our Chaim is now in Mokanovitsa. Send our regards to Hierokle. And we are grateful for her remembering us.  Please tell her to write often, and about her health, and if she makes a living. And if Aron has a little bit of time, let him write a few words. Be healthy. I wish, and I am your father, that you be healthy.

[Moishe Rapoport]


Letter 35: "Chaim doesn't have to go to the army"

Dear sister Basya,

 Finally, I got your letter and I am grateful for it, for such a long time. First of all I can write to you that we are healthy. There is not much news. Everything is the same. My shviegger goes to the United States, to New York. You know her. This is the one who slept with the tenant  [or in the apartment of the tenant]. If you remember they were lucky in bed together.

 The reason why she is leaving is because she doesn't want him. They were dating for four years. Write to me how you feel. How is your health. And what is new in your life. I ask you to write to me often and about everything. If one wants to, one can always find time to write a letter. Big regards from my daughter to you. She is very beautiful and getting even more beautiful. Chaim doesn't have to go to the army. I have nothing else to write about. Be healthy and have a good time. Don't be sad for the old house because it won't change anything and won't help you. If you see Lepkin, ask why he doesn't write to me. I wrote him two letters but got no answers. There is nothing else to write any more.

 Your sister Sonya is asking for letters. I have received one postcard from Label and I will send a letter back.



Letter 36: "We will have a 'briska!'"

In Yiddish


My dear sister Basya,

 Live in prosperity and in happiness.

 In the letter you wrote and which we received with pleasure you said you would soon write us a letter. I immediately answered it. I hoped that you had received it. Your letter which we waited impatiently for, we didn't get yet. But if you send it we hope we will also receive it. I ask you in the future my dear sister write often, specify everything in your life. This is what we would like to know, about your life, about you happiness, about how you spend your time. I am asking you if you have met with Zama Rosenberg. After Passover, he'll come to Aunt Razel. She will send him to you.

 There is nothing new in our life, but, thank God, we are healthy and have enough income in our shop. I ordered some clothes for myself when I was in the town of Reygitz.  I had custom made a blouse which cost 1 ruble, 5 kopeks. The blouse cost 3 rubles and a dress which cost 1 ruble and 60 kopeks. And I bought warm stockings for 1 ruble and 50 kopeks. And I would also like to have a suit made for myself. I thought to make myself a black dress but I wrote for advice and Label (Lebke) told me make a whole suit. He writes that he will send me a Passover present of a few more rubles. I am looking for good black material that I can't get. I don't want a dress of simple [material], as I can make this myself. In Reygitz,  Bulkin also opened a material shop and because he owed us some money, I decided to use this case instead of money to get material. Even so it is not the time yet [for repayment of loan?], so there is nothing I can do. I took something from my father. Let him be healthy. Neesle, we took shorts, 9 pair of men's underwear because he still had three new shorts before his departure when Hanna didn't have any job. And she made him some and Chaim sent it here. I took some material and made a dark navy blouse. And I also made a blouse for Balka and also a dark one with white detail and it came out very beautiful. There was a costume made for Yankle. Mirushka went to Hanka [Hanna] and she made a dress and for this dress she made a blouse in maroon, because the dress has maroon detail. I saw that all the material needs to bought now because Hanna did not have a job for a month and now she a lot of work, almost to Passover. Then she will have even more work. And of course if Lirritz won't have his shop it won't be that easy to buy all the material.

 Thank God the children won't walk around nude, without any clothing. And I am glad that I was able to get all of this [the clothing, etc] because in our condition we have to take whatever we can. Maybe I spent too much time specifying everything, but I knew you would like to know about everything, but let God help us so we can write happy letters to each other. We often receive letters from Chaim. Thank God he is healthy. He writes to us that he writes to you very, very often, once every two weeks or more. Uncle Nachim asked about you and asked if we got letters from you. I wrote to him because he was worried because you don't write to him. Chaim went to Faikov a month ago, he will have a job there. He will be an inspector.
 Thank God for health, and after Passover, we will have some news. When the good times come, we will have a circumcision [briska]--God give him health. Sarah Bolshinova went a few times to us and asked me to send regards and also to Uncle Aron and Aunt Rakhil with their children. A regard from the heart from Uncle [?] and Aunt with their children. They would write themselves but they do not have the time. And regards from Vasya and Shepkin and Label. And many others send their regards to you.

[No name]


Letter 37: "When the war will settle down...Nothing is good in Russia  now...Everyone is

In Yiddish

28th Abrushe Cholmeil

Dearest and most loving Sister, Batsheba, live well and forever fortunate.

I read your loving postcard with enjoyment. Pardon me, my dear sister, for not writing for such a long time. I admit that this is not nice on my part.

We put things off from day to day and it stretches into weeks and into months and so goes the time and we don't notice it.

What should I write you, my dear sister, about today's news. What's happening here in Russia is well known and I've been at home already for 2 weeks. In our company, they let all the workers go because there's no work in today's climate.

When the war will settle down, then they'll start shipping trains and I'll have to go back to the office. But meanwhile, things aren't good, not only with us, but it's like this everywhere. All the factories are quiet and we go around without work, and everything is expensive. There are no trains to load. They load trains only once a day and at night, there's nothing to do.

What should I write you now. Nothing is good in Russia now. Everyone is fearful because of the circumstances.

Today, we must be jealous because of those in America. We thank God for that because it's getting worse in Russia, not better, especially in such a time. Who knows what can happen. We only live with hope for the better.

With me, there's no news. Everything is as before. I'm in the best of health, and hope I should hear the same from you. I'll be here over the High Holidays and then I don't know myself where I'll go. If the war lasts, God forbid, then I'll stay at home and further as God will give.

I'll soon write you a letter about the news here. There's a lot to write. Generally, everyone is tense because of the situation.

Now, my dear sister, I ask you to write the good news about yourself. Most importantly, how is everyone's health and how are you spending your free time? How is uncle Noshe and the children, they should live? Do you go to visit him Often? How's Hanna [Friedman] and what's new with her? In a word, write in detail about everyone. [I will] answer your letter with great thanks and don't forget to send me your picture. It would be my biggest joy. Though you're mad at me because I didn't write you, I hope you'll forgive me this time. I'll see to make an attempt to write letters more often.

Now, we have no more to write. Be well and happy and God should send you a good inscription in the Book of Life for the New Year, as wishes your brother Chaim Rapoport.

Please answer. If you see Shmuel, Yudn, and Moishe, send them my regards.

To My Uncle, My Dear and Honorable - May you be blessed by God, Aaron Friedman. Also, to my aunt, the dear and important one, Mrs. Khaya Rokhel, should live a good and peaceful life.

What should I write you about myself. There's nothing to write. I am, thank God, in the best of health. Otherwise, there's no important news.

I'm now a homebody. We sit and wait for better times. Write, my dears, what's new with you? Write something good.

Most importantly, write about your health and about the children. They should be strong and healthy. God should give you a healthy, happy New Year, as wishes your nephew, Chaim.

Chaim Rapoport


Letter 38: "Your darling Michlechka turned out rather bad"

9. that's how things are, my dear.  Let's not talk about it anymore.  You ask about Aunt Tsira and Uncle Nissen [Not Bessie's brother]. I can inform you that Aunt Tsira's financial affairs are going not bad, but her family life is awful.  Chaim Mulin has not been home for 3 years.  He is somewhere in Caucasus.  They get letters from him very seldom, 2 times a year.  He doesn't send them any money.  He wants her and the children to come to him, but she doesn't want to go, because it is impossible to get there.  It is even harder than to get to America.  Thank God, her little children and her are well.  She makes her living.

 Uncle Nissen has a lovely wife with two children: a boy, 4 years of age and a girl who is 2.  He earns his living, but his state of health is bad.

 And Aunt Mindul and the family of Uncle Blibts are quite well.  Their eldest daughter, Golda, got married.  She is very happy.  She has a son.  And Uncle Gershon lives in Rechitsa, and he is happy there.  Their son, Chaim David, is getting married soon.  But poor Hanka still doesn't have a husband.  Fortunately, they are all well and healthy.

 Uncle Aaron and Uncle Joseph live very happily.  They are quite wealthy.

 About our family I can say that we are all well, thank God.  Hanka works as a seamstress at home and makes a little bit of money.  Sonya works around the house, Baylya works with me in the shop.  She became a tall, slender, and healthy girl.  Only she has difficult nature.  Our Yankel learned to be a very good shoe-maker.  But he quit his job, and left here for Moscow without permission.  He enlisted in the Soviet service [trans: "probably not the army, but some government agency or office."].  Last week, we received a letter from him.  All this time, we didn't know where he was.  But the boy is no fool, he is quite smart.

 Your darling Michlechka turned out to be rather bad.  There is nothing to brag about with her.  She is short-witted, doesn't want to study.  Generally speaking, she has a lot of shortcomings.  I, myself, am well, and I want to hear the same from you.


Letter 39: "You are in a strange place. Don't worry about anything. You should leave
                    everything to God..."

In Yiddish


Dearest and Loving Sister Batsheba. Live fortunately.

 A week ago we got your card and I answered with another card which I'm sure you received.

 Now, we're writing you, a L'Shona Tova, and hope God will give you a healthy, fortunate year with income, and you shouldn't need anything.

 What should I write you? You alone know the situation also. God should only improve things for everyone and for us too. Probably he will go, and he should come home in good health [?]. I ask you, dear sister, take care of yourself and guard your health. You're in a strange place. Don't worry about anything or take anything to heart. You should leave everything to God and hope he'll send us income, and we should write happily to each other.

 Mazel-tov to you, my sister for...chuppah. God should give that he should...

who waits for your letter


Letter 40: "I congratulate you on your engagement"


My dear sister Bessie.

 We have received your registered letter.  We were very happy to read it.  I congratulate you on your engagement and wish you to be happy from the bottom of my heart.  I also wish you to never have any sorrow and to have a great life together.  Dear sister, I regret only one thing ? that we can't see each other and that we can't share our joy and sorrows, but I think it's temporary.

 Well!  My dear, what more can I write?  I have nothing new.  Everything is as usual.  Lera, Sonya Margolin's sister, works for me now.  If you see her [Sonya], give her my best and also regards from her parents.  She must write hem herself, for they are very worried that they're not getting any letters from her.  Oh, dear Bessie, we have a guest from Gomel staying at your house.

 Write about what's new, how is your health, and how is your fiancé.  My dear, once you get our letter, answer immediately.  I am sending you a picture of me and also of aunt.  There is nothing more to write.  Your sister who wishes you happiness and joy,



Letter 41: "I would like to congratulate you on your engagement"

In Russian

Dear sister Baska.

 We have received your closed letter.  I am very grateful for it, and, please, don't forget to write in the future.  I will answer to these letters with gratitude.

 My dear sister, I would like to congratulate you on your engagement.  I wish you to always be happy.

            Dear sister, I am sorry that my writing is so terrible.  It's very late. There is nothing new here, everything is the same as it was before.

             I ask you to be healthy.
From your loving sister who wishes
you all the best, Sonia Rapoport
In Yiddish

...regards to you from Aaron and Chaya Rochel and your dear children Moshke and Chana and Tzilke, you should all live with joy.

I thank you for your efforts you made to marry off Batsheba. She is lonely and has no one there but you. You give her advice so that she's not alone.

Write more often. I haven't heard from you for a while. I ask you, my nieces and nephew, write several times to your uncle and I'll be thankful.

Be well and live in good spirits as wishes your brother and uncle, Aaron Moishe.

[Here's Bessie's father addresses his sister,
 and nephew and nieces in America.]

Dear sister Batsheba - live in good fortune. I give you mazel-tov on your engagement. I ask you dear sister, write me more often letters and I'll answer.

 From me, your brother Yakov
In Russian

Dear sister Bessie.

 I congratulate you on your engagement and wish you to be happy.  I am grateful for all your letters.

Take care, your sister Baylya


Letter 42: "We have received your closed letter...that you are going to have a wedding"


Kholmich, June 1

My dear Bessie and Manakhem.

 We have received your closed letter, in which you wrote that you are going to have a wedding.  We are very grateful for your letter, which we were reading with joy.  We are glad that you are well, and we are now waiting for a detailed letter about where you have settled and who was present at your celebration.  I hope to get a detailed letter that will satisfy our curiosity, because we are interested in everything.  And my other wish is to get your photographs, for which we are patiently waiting.

 About myself I can say that I am well, thank God.  I have no news.  Life is slow, but we live with hope for the future, for a better life.  It can't be that people always lead a miserable life, but right now, we all live "not in clover."  Michael is in Kiev.  Maybe, some day, I will find free time to go visit him for a couple of days.  Liza is now in Yekaterinoslav [this city is now called Krasnodar].  She writes to us that her daughter Sonka [Sonya] is, thank God, well.  Chaim earns 50 rubles a month, without tips.  Nissen goes to Gomel almost every week.  He sends his regards and wishes


Letter 43: "I want to know about everything...Write if there was a wedding"


My dear brother and sister,

 We have received your letter, for which we are very grateful.  Thank you for not forgetting us and your regards.  My dear, write often in the future, and I will try to answer.  What can I write to you?  There is nothing new, my dear, everything is the same as before.  I am well, and I hope to hear the same from you.  I spend time as usual.  I work a little.  Now, I have two women [trans: "seamstresses?"] working for me.
 Write, what news you have.  How is life, and how is your health, and is new, in general? ... Because I want to know about everything.  Write if there was a wedding, but there probably was.  So I wish you to be happy and to be with each other your entire life.

 Dear sister and dear brother, try to take your picture and send it to us.  Be well and happy, that's all I, your sister Hanna M. Rap., wish to you.

 Give my regards to Aunt Rachael and Uncle Aaron, and also to Nyuska and Tsilka.  Kiss you all warmly, and also give my best to Lev Chyernyak and all our relatives.

Dear Bessie and dear Manakhem.

 We are, thank God, alive and well.  There has been, probably, a wedding already.  So I wish you to be happy and to be close to each other and to love each other all your life.  God, grant you His blessing and happiness to all of you.  Give my best to Rachael and Aaron and their little children, and to L. Chyernyak.  Your father who wishes to hear all the best from you...

Dear Bessie and Manakhem.

 I am very grateful for your regards to me.  Please, do not forget me in the future, and I will gratefully answer to you. I congratulate you on your wedding and wish you all the best: to be healthy and happy all your life.
Yours sincerely, your sister, Sonya.

 Give my regards to Aunt Rachael and Uncle Aaron, and also to Nyusya, Barka, Tsilka and all our relatives.


Letter 44: "Manakhem, write where your parents are now"



My dear children Bessie and Menakhem.

 I wish you to live long and happily, and to be healthy.  Your closed letter, for which we are very grateful, we received.  We ask you to write to us in the future as well.  Tell us about your health, about your life.

 Menakhem, write where your parents are now.  Give our regards to Rachele and Aaron Friedman and to their dear children, and write about their life.

 We are well, thank God.  The business in the shop is getting better.  It was usually good before Easter.  Now it's summer, and trade got worse.  Chaim is working for Mostavlian.

 Baylya, Yankel, and Mikhlya give you their regards.

My dear Bessie and Menakhem!

 We have received your closed letter.  We are very happy and grateful.  I ask you not to forget about us in the future.  I will write back without fail.

 What can I tell you, my dear, there is nothing new, everything is as it was before.  I am still working, and there are two women working for me.  Thank God, I am well, and I wish the same to you.  I spend my time as usual, like everybody in a small town.  Write about how you live, what is happening.  I guess, you must have some news... some changes in your lifestyle... Tell us about your new home.  We are waiting for a detailed letter from you.  I hope to receive it soon.  And one more thing, I ask you to send me your photographs.  We would be very happy to have them, because we miss you very much already, and we would be glad to have something to remind us of you.

 Be healthy and happy.  Your sister, Hanna M. R.


Letter 45: "Hopefully, some day we will see each other. I still have hope"

My dear brother and sister!

 We have received your letter.  I cannot express my happiness to get it.  We read it over many times, and tears were falling from our eyes, because we are so far from you.  Hopefully, someday, we will see each other.  I still have hope...What can I write, dear Bessie.  There's nothing new, everything is the same.  Thank God, I am well, and I hope to hear the same from you.  There is little work.  I spend time as usual.  Quite often, our friends come to visit us, and we have a good time.  What's new in your family?  How is life, how do you spend your free time, how is your health?  In other words, write about everything.  I wish you to be well...

Dear aunt and uncle!

 I'm very grateful for your regards to me.  Don't forget about me in the future either.  And I will answer you in my turn.  Write about what's new, how's your health.  Give my best to Nyuska and Borka, and especially to my dear Tsilka.  I love her very much.

 Be well.  I wish you all the best.  Your niece, Hanna

Letter 46: "We are happy you have settled well"

October 4, 1916

My dear Bessie and Menakhem.

 Your closed letter, which we were waiting for anxiously, we have received on the 1st.  I cannot describe our joy when we read your letter.  We are happy that you have settled well, and I would like to thank you in advance for sending your photos to us, which we are also waiting for impatiently.

 What can I write you, my dear.  We are all, thank God, well.  There is nothing new.  Chaim didn't come to the holiday.  They didn't let him.  I think he is coming after the holiday.  Nissen went to Rechitsa for the holiday.  He got a coat there.  He is, thank God, well, and he's sending you his best regards.  In another letter, he will write you himself.

 Tsira lives in Smolenskaya province, near Roslov.  She has a great life.  Nissen is still a bachelor.  He and all our other relatives in Rechitsa are well.  They all live happily.  About myself I can write that I'm, thank God, well.  I spend my free time as usual.  Life in a small village is not interesting.  I haven't been in Kiev yet.  I think I will go there after Sukkhos [Succot].

 Michael has a job in Kiev.  Liza is in Yekaterinoslav.  She is well and writes often.  They are very pleased with their daughter.  They have to take her picture and send it to us.  Then they will definitely send you one.

 Write, if you ever visit the relatives and Uncle Zelik.  How are they?  How are the Galpirin?  Give them my best, and also give my best to Miril Kunina and Sorka Lishansky.  Send my greetings to Gitil.  Why doesn't she every write to her parents?  They are very worried.  It seems I've written about everything already.  Milechka is studying, Baylya and Yankel are also in school.  They will write you themselves.  All our friends are giving their regards to you.  Be happy and healthy.

Khaya Rapoport.

Title Pages, Dedication, Frontispiece
Preface, Introduction, Poem
Letters: Early years
Letters: Middle years
Letters: Later years