Kholmech Sign and Book of Letters
Letter 47: "Your jewel-like letter we received with great pleasure..."

My dear Menakhem and my dear Basya,

 Be healthy.

 Your jewel-like letter we received with great pleasure and we are grateful for all the regards you sent to me in the letter. I am asking that in the future you write frequently and I hope that I will do the same.

 There is nothing new in our lives. We are thank God all healthy. If we have time, when we aren't working, it is very boring, because there is nothing around in Kholmich. Khaika is at home. She is at the dacha and is getting well very quickly. Soon the season will be over and she will come home. Chaim is not home. He is in Reygitz now and soon he will be home. He works. How is life? How do you feel? Do you make enough for a living? Write to us about your mood and the mood in America. Write about everything. Yes, Baska, remember Marissya who was making stockings. She is from Switzerland with her husband [?] and two children. [Connection with what follows?]  I can congratulate you. Uncle Neesen got married. She is a swell young woman. Aunt Tsara lives in Gomel now.  Neesen [not Bessie's brother, we think] and his young wife live with her and live well. Be healthy, and I wish the best for all of you, your sister,

And Baskya, Yanke and Mikocha are studying and they will write for themselves. My regards to Uncle Aaron and Aunt Rachel and I am very grateful to them for [?]. And my regards to Sonya, Khaika, Label and all of our family members. Be healthy again dear Baskya. I am grateful for your attention, that you remember me, that you have feelings for us and for your wonderful letters. Write to us, we'll write to you.
[Third page is unreadable. Perhaps: who is doing what in the store, etc...
Page 4 is written by Sonya. It follows]

Dear My dear Basya and Menakhem,

 Let God give you health. We are healthy. I am sorry I didn't write to you, because we are busy. I have to be in the house and in the shop. Today Hanna left for Gomel to see Mikhail. My dear, that is the news. There is nothing new in our lives and nothing to write.


Letter 48: "We have decided to Palestine"

In Yiddish

Respectful sister [this must be to "Aunt Rakhil],

 Have a happy life with Aron and with your children.
 I write to you my first letter, even though I wrote a letter before which you probably didn't get. Now I write to you when I got to know you. I am from Kholmich and I am your relative. I am now in Gomel and I work here, already one and one-half year. I was introduced to your family and it happens to be that we are close relatives. I am almost every day in your house and we are very close. We have decided to go together with "Benson" abroad, to Palestine. We must hope that we will reach the destination and that we will be able to settle because the times here are very bad, unemployment is very high, there is no place to make money. And the times are very unsettled. We will need to go after Passover.

 Before the trip I will send a telegram to my sister in the United States. She got married over there and I hope that she will definitely send some help to us in such a difficult time. I would like to ask you to go to my sister and introduce yourself to her and to tell her I am going together with your relatives. I think you will definitely do so. I also sent her a letter and told her about it. But sometimes the letter doesn't get to the address. Therefore I ask you to go to my sister because I will send a telegram to her from Poland because of the help we need. She needs to know about this now so she won't be frightened when she suddenly receives a telegram. Tell her that all of our family sends regards and are in good health.
 About everything else your father wrote. I congratulate you because you became a bride [Is this directed to Bessie?]. I wish happiness for you and everything you wish for yourself and hope we will hear good news from you. I think in the future we will not read your letters any more because we are leaving in a few weeks. When we come to Poland we will exchange letters about everything. This letter I am writing in your house and we sit all together with your family. We are talking constantly about the trip and about you. We all recall you. There is nothing else to write. Be happy and healthy.

     Your best relative, Chaim Rapoport
I am sending to you the address of my sister. She is called Barshevis:
                      Mr. H [M?]. Schechter
                      945 180th St Bronx NY
Now came Yanki Hasness from Odessa and he is a very poor man. I could not hear about all the bad things [some inaudible]

 [This letter is somewhat confusing, as all the members of Bessie's family seem to have known "Aunt Rakhil" well. Why does Chaim ask that she introduce herself to Bessie, when Bessie lived with them after she first came over? Who became a bride? According to Jerry Schechter, the address given for Bessie and Max Schechter corresponds to this range of dates. Moreover, the conditions referred to ("...the times are very unsettled") appear to take place during a time of war and revolution].


Letter 49: "They drafted Yanfer"

In Yiddish
Two fragments

...she doesn't know what to do...Avraml in Zashtzania. The situation here is, thank God, quiet...made papers in Tarbov. Meanwhile, is still at home. They drafted Yanfer and took him away. They say it's very bad there...They're anxious for him to make papers for them when he'll be in New York....

...I paid up in full and this was my own money. As I understand. Are you mad about something, because you don't write me? Nevertheless, you should have reminded yourself and furthermore, I don't know. Maybe you didn't know what happened up to now. It's gone.

[This is Chaim Rapoport's handwriting]


Letter 50: "There is great hunger in the Ukraine. There was no harvest this year..."

In Yiddish

... and Aunt Shayne sells in the market and Uncle Hode and Motke work on a job. They get a salary so this is how they live. Manke works with the aunt in the market. They are all  grown children and are very nice. They are specializing in medicine.

Uncle Yashe lives well. He has 3 very nice children. We hear from Michael that he is very well, thank God. His daughter is a very nice girl. She studies well and already writes us letters. She is a smart child. He works on a job and she has an office, but now the situation there isn't good. There is great hunger in the Ukraine. There was no harvest this year and they live with hardship.

Uncle Avram Eli and Sara have enough for expenses and sometimes they live with Yashe. I wonder why you don't write an answer in general. Every one here gets letters and packages.

Here in Gomel, there was an American office through which packages arrive from America. They give out cards here for us to write your address in America. You pay $10 and they send us here a package of products. This is worth a lot of money. So many people get 4-5 packages. Usually, to those who do well in America, $10 isn't much money and the packages are worth much.

We have people here who don't even have matzoh for Pesach, so they must eat bread. This kind of situation is prevalent in Russia. Thank God, we have matzoh and I also got a card from Gomel through the American office. You will have to pay $10 and they'll give us a package. Chantze, without asking, sent us a card and this should remain a secret between us.

Aunt Tzierke got 9 packages from the children. This is a great help. They were having a hard time, but now they're alright. We got your package through Moscow and we thank you very much. We think of you often. Furthermore. I can write you that [Chaim?] is planning to go to Palestine.


Letter 51: "At times I suffered from hunger...I wanted to go to America with them"

In Yiddish

My Dears, live fortunate with your children, should live!

It's been a long time since I wrote you a letter and I'm sure you're wondering why I  suddenly wrote now. They say in Russian, better late than never. If you want to be responsible, you can find the time to write a letter. You can always find an excuse not to write.

At one time, I was very precise, now I'm the opposite, especially when it comes to writing and it's hard to cure myself from this. I feel strange being like this and I shouldn't be this way. Secondly, I promise to be more exact and write a letter.

Now, I'll write you about myself. The whole time, I find myself in Gomel. Since everyone else is writing you about themselves in details, I will also do this.

I was working on a job in Solvat and during this time I survived on 15 pounds of flour, 21 pounds of salt and that was all I had, so you can imagine that at times I suffered from hunger. There's nothing much to write about this. We tightened our belts and we all lived like this. While I was working on my job, I received a lot of bread each month. There was enough to live on and I also did a little business on the side. We lived it up. I collected 60 pounds of bread in 3 months and sold it. I made a few rubles and started doing business with a few partners.

I wanted to go to America together with them. During this time, I wrote to Aunt Khaya Rokhel a letter asking her to participate and help me out, but she didn't answer and ignored my letter. My dears, when you get my letter, please speak to her about it. Maybe you can send me papers and sponsor me. Please talk to Aunt Khaya Rokhel. Maybe she can sponsor me because she's already been in America a long time.

Also, if you can do this, please do so right away because I want to leave soon with Tzierke. I hope I can remain in America and be able to make a living. I'm accustomed to doing hard work. It's hard to survive here and I've been struggling a long time to earn a piece of bread.

I know it will be hard but it will be good. I also have to ask your advice on another matter. What's your advice? Should I get married or travel as a single? I have no girlfriend now but if I want, I can make a good match here.

I didn't marry Franza because things didn't work out and secondly because life in Russia is hard and in America it's easy to marry if you get a job. Today, if someone wants to go to America, there are three categories for requirements: the first category is for parents who want to go to children and children who want to go to parents: the second category is for a wife to go to her husband or a husband to his wife: the third is to go to a brother or a sister. Sometimes, you can go even if you have no relatives there.

Write me if Chanke, Aunt Khaya Perel's daughter, got married or if she's still single. If she's single could she send me papers? She could pretend that she's bringing me over as a groom and that would fit into one of the categories. This would be a plan we could follow. You could also send me papers for whatever category you see fit.

I'll be forever thankful if you'd send me the papers. You should know how old I am. I had to go to the army in 1892 [?] which means that I  am already 29 only I must write on my papers that I'm 31 years old. My name is Chaim Moshevitch in Russian which is how it must be written on all the papers.

I am thank God healthy and you should write more often. Be well.

Yesterday, my material came. Michael is becoming a bridegroom [We do not think this is Bessie's brother]. It's coming at a lucky hour. His bride is from Briofn and is a very nice girl. He's going there this week. She was here in Gomel and he'll write you soon. We got a letter from him and he's still in the same job.

Our Yankel is in Moscow. He takes courses and was accepted to the technical school.

Write what's new with you. How are the children? How are the Gelfernans and others? I'm writing you Tzierke's address.

Be well and kiss the children, they should write. Regards to everyone in America from Aunt Tzierke, Aunt Shayne, Yashe, they all ask for you.

[Chaim Rapoport]
[The following appears to be from the same letter; it is in the
same handwriting and on the same paper]

...only from the business, nothing came of it and the money got less and less. I talked to good friends and set up a shoe factory. The first time I did well and the factory got a good reputation. We all work well together and I have good material for soles and suede and I make models. I learned how to do good work and that would have been good, but the expenses are greater than the earnings. This happens to everyone who has a business. It's unbelievable.

The big businesses can afford it and the small businesses close up and move away. The people sell their houses for nothing and there isn't a day when at least 40 families move and go to America, if they have someone there.

Life here became unbearable. We also have to pay big taxes and it gets harder to leave. We decided to go to Palestine but there were many requests for emigration so we couldn't go.

In Livina, there was no place from where to travel, so Chantza wrote me that you'll send me money. I was supposed to travel through Poland, but it's too hard to go there. Now, it's also required that we must now have a sponsor from Palestine. There is also great confusion there now. If I had papers from America, I would also go there. As I mentioned in my last letter, if you could send me papers and be my sponsor, please do it. [?] already has papers and has had them for a long time. He is ready to go...


Letter 52: "Write all the truth about your silence"

Russian/Yiddish [not translated]

Dear brother Menakhem, dear sister Bessie, and dear nephews Yashka and Gershunka.

 My dear, it's been a long time since you have sent me a letter.  We don't know what to think.  We are so worried.  Why are you making us wait for your letters so long?  They are more important than anything to us.  Please, my dear, be more accurate with the letters and write more often.  Don't make us wait for so long, and don't let us suffer.  Maybe something happened.  Don't be embarrassed and write all the truth about your silence.


Letter 53: "You have forgotten us"

Dear brother, sister, and the children.

 Be happy and healthy.  You have forgotten us.  I don't know what to think.  Please, write often in the future.  Write if you are well, what you are doing.  I am, thank God, healthy.  Your sister who awaits your answer, Rivka.  Give my best to your children.

Letter 54: "...would it possible for her to go to America?"
...and she is not pretty, so the conclusion of it all is not very positive.  How are we to get out of this situation, so that our Hanka can settle down here in Russia, and so that she can reach her goals for the future.  But this is very difficult, so would it be possible for her to go to America? For now, she is getting ready to go to Gomel, but she just can't leave now for different reasons.

 The way of our lives hasn't changed.  Sonya works about the house, Mikhlya helps her.  Baylya and I are working in the shop, and Hanka is making clothes.  Father teaches children and earns money for the entire winter.  Yankel is travelling somewhere, and we don't know how he makes his living.  Chaim has settled in Gomel.  He works in a tannery.  It seems all of us individually get enough money, but it's not enough for living.

 I will write more about myself in my next letter.  I would have written more now, but I'm in a hurry to send this letter.  Write also about your life.


Letter 55: "I am almost as big as Hanna"

Part of a letter

Dear brother Menakhem and dear sister Basya,

 I am very grateful for your regards to me in the letters we write and I hope that is how it will stay. For myself I can tell you I am healthy and I hope God will give you the same. And my dear I am very grateful for the packages. My dear sister the dresses you sent to me are no good because I am almost as big as Hanna. Well, there is nothing else to write. Most of the time I spend in a shop. I sell things little by little. I would write more but they are rushing to take the letter to the post office, Your sister,

I wait impatiently for your answer. I kiss all of you, especially your children.


Letter 56: "My God, you are asking for one us to come to you in the United States"

My dear Menakhem and Baska and my dear nephews,
 Be happy.
 Finally, we received your long awaited letter and with joy we read it. We are grateful you do not forget us. We read your letter several times and that day was like a holiday for us.  We were crying from the joy and happiness, that  you are healthy. How can we live without seeing you for such a long time. My dear, I think that we should have a hope that maybe God will give us the chance to see each other again. My God, you are asking for one of us to come to you in the United States, but to go, one must have a lot of money. And my dear, I really don't know what to do because I am fed up with the local life .... always to work and never to have anything.  We have a life no one can envy. I have a few jobs. A woman works for me but money for the labor is not much because everything is so expensive. Material for a dress costs 2 million rubles for a yard, but a pair of boots costs 6 million. In one word, you simply cannot have it. It's practically impossible to buy anything. My dear sister Baska, if you think of sending us something, then send the material. I will make it here. And if it's possible dear Baska, send material for a suit for me, because it's impossible to buy it here, And if one day God permits me to come to you I will pay you back in any way possible. And if you think to send boots, please send [bulldo ?] fashion because some people here received boots from America but they are not fashionable [useful?] here. My size is 34 and Baylya's is 37 and Pappa's is 25. Sonya already has boots. We bought or made boots for her at Passover.

[This is where letter ends. Rest missing]
[In the same envelope, there is an envelope from Mr. and Mrs. Schechter, Bronx NY
to Mikhail Rapoport, 42 Petrograd St, Yekaterinoslav]


Letter 57: "It is difficult to go to America now...I am sick of this provincial life"

My dear brother Menakhem and my dear sister Baskya and my dear nephews, Yashka and Gershunka,

 Happiness to all of you.

 My dear, your long-awaited letter was received with joy. Several times we read the letter and it seemed that we personally are conversing with you, and many tears were shed while reading this letter. And you are so far away from us and we cannot see you and enjoy being with you. Is it possible that we will never see you again? I do not lose hope. I hope we will see each other again. It's been a long time till now. It will be a long time until I can go, because it is very difficult to go to America now. You know my dear Baska, Luba Levina [a woman] got married and she took a wonderful husband and she went to America. I think she is already there. She went together with an agent and if you have an agent, it doesn't take long. She will be new York and she will get in touch with you. She asked for your address. Now I will write several words about my life.

 I feel fine and I hope God will be merciful and you will feel the same. I have a lot of work because soon it will be the holiday season and I am considered to be the best dressmaker in Kholmich. But what from this, if they don't pay much for my labor in Kholmich.  I wanted to go to Gomel and work there. Even so it is difficult to leave the house. [Something follows to the effect: Some children have already left the household so she has to stay there; there is nothing she can do about it]. And besides I work for nothing and I am sick of having this provincial life. It is too boring, so boring to live. There is no one to talk to. I am already a young woman and it is time for me to think about my future. When I will go, I will write to you. Our Chaim is doing very well in Gomel. He wants me to come, to live with him. And I am very grateful for the packages you are sending to us. Tell me about your life, what's new and how are the children?  Send my regards to everyone,

Your sister


Letter 58: "How is the health of your oldest son?...Poppa is teaching children"

December 24 [1919]
A postcard to Mr. and Mrs Schechter
from Mikhail Rapoport, Petrograd St, Yekaterinoslav

My dear Basya and Menakhem,

 I am very much surprised that you didn't get any of my letters. We sent to you a long time ago a letter and then we sent a postcard. Something came back to me. Please write. Thank you for your frequent letters. How are things, how is the health of your oldest son? What illness did he have. Do you have a job? How is your health Basya? Tell us about everything. We are fine. I got better a little bit but I lost my job and now I don't do anything.  Liza is making a little bit in the [dental] office. Even so, she doesn't make enough but we hope somehow we will survive till the spring and I hope in summer I will get a job. The most important thing is to be healthy. From the father we have letters very often and thank God they are all healthy. Poppa is teaching children, Neesen works in the shop, Hanka is making clothes and the rest don't do anything. Chaim is in Gomel. Financially, father is not that well. The government asks a lot of fees for the packages you send, but they don't have the money. I kiss your children. Liza and Sonichka [This last name refers to his daughter "Shaynke"; the diminutive seems the same as the one that can be used for the name "Sonya"] send their best to you. Be healthy, your brother



Letter 59: "Yankel also works for the Soviet"


Dear Aunt Rachel and Uncle Aaron, and my dear brother and sister,

 How are you doing and how is everything. We all feel good, thank God. We have not heard from you about how your life is.

 Dear Baska, it will be in the letters that says you should write. We want you to write letters.
 Write us how you make a living, my dear. Let us know if Borka is married, because you told us he has a girlfriend.

 Neesen sends regards from Rechitsa. He is working for the Soviet. He will soon come home, and he will write to you. Chaim is in Gomel and he is well, and he will write. Yankel also works for the Soviet. He's grown a lot like Chaim. We are all well. Everyone sends regards to the Galpirins,

 your niece and sister,

[The translator notes that though this letter is written in Russian, the writer uses
the Yiddish word for "write"-- shribe--by transliterating it into Russian].

Letter 60: "Our girls are not small's time for them to get married"

My dear brother Menakhem and my dear sister Basya,

 Live happy with your wonderful, dear children.

 My dear, I am asking your forgiveness that I didn't write you a letter for such a long time. But I am not that guilty because I sent you a postcard from your previous letter immediately. And I sent the postcard together with my father's [?] and I send you a letter also. Now your postcards are very pleasant to receive but they do not satisfy us a great deal because we cannot find out the details of your life. But that's enough to be apologetic to each other and to ask forgiveness. And I promise that every two weeks I will send you a letter and between this I will send you a postcard.

 It's enough for me to live with promises. I will follow your example and you will follow our example to write each other frequently and not to worry and to wait and wait. Let us do that.

 First of all, my dear, you will like to know how is our health and about our life here. Now I and "B" are fine and thank God for this because there is no more good news in our life. But we still ask for God the most important thing --to be healthy. But at the same time you need more in your life to be happy. And the life here is very, very expensive and it is very hard to have enough money for food and it is practically impossible to buy something else besides the food.  But to think about getting married, you can't even think about it because you need such a great amount of money. Our girls are not small any more and it is time for them to get married. Even Baylya is already a young woman and she looks like an adult, and she is round [full figured].

               [Other part of letter is missing]

I send you several kisses to your children. Be happy,



Letter 61: "...we are happy that we have bread and potatoes. There are some people who
                       don't have even this"

In Yiddish

 We are all healthy here, and all this time Chaim is in Gomel. He sent us a letter in which he stated that he sent you a letter also. Now he went to speculate. So a short period of time he was working in a factory. Now there is no job there anymore. So he went to buy something and to sell it and make some money on it. When he comes back I will send him a letter to Gomel. So he can write a letter to you, send it to us, and we will send it to you.  Your letter we have received. We are grateful to you for remembering us and for sending us a reply and a package. We didn't receive yet the flour that you sent in winter and the flour for Passover. But if one sends something like this, people to whom it was sent would receive it before or after. The package you sent through Moscow to the name of Cherynyak we  have received also late. My soul is in pain that Menakhem does not write. You wrote that he went somewhere and I understood what he will be doing there. Now therefore I ask you to write immediately a letter by Menakhem and truthfully tell us about your health.

 I don't have as much work as I used too and Hanna also has less work. But we are already accustomed to it. Lately we live modestly and we are happy that we have bread and potatoes. There are some people who don't have even this. Thank God we also have flour, rice, farina, and potatoes. It means that till the end of July, before the harvest, we have what we need. And if God will be merciful we hope the future won't be worse than it is now. I feel restrained, something heavy is on me, because it is very difficult to get to you [?]. There are many people who left more than a half a year ago and they have been staying in Warsaw and some have been turned back.

 In regard to Khaika, I can't say anything. She left from here to Ekaterinaslava but we have received no letters from her. I know her. She is not lazy to write letters. Mirrile also does not talk about her. But to go by yourself to Ekaterinslava is very difficult--or to find this person--because when you travel by train you can get many diseases.  But my heart tells me that [???] that if she would leave she would write us a letter. Even so, she would like to know what is happening in our lives. I do not believe she would forget about us. What can I write. I am grateful to God that we survived the last year and there is hope we will leave. One thing is certain. That we still do not have enough. We do not have a coat. In the summertime one can walk in old clothes. But in winter, I am undressed. But maybe something will change. Write to us how Khaya [Friedman] and Rachel [Rakhil] are because they do not write. Send our regards to all, Khaya or Hilka and Aron and to your children, and to the children of Bereyzal, Sholon and Vazel.

[Moishe Rapoport?]


Letter 62: "Most of my time I spend in the shop...Hanna will be leaving soon"

Russian/Yiddish [not translated]

My dear sister Baska and dear brother Menakhem and dear children,Yashka and Gershunka

 Live happily!  Finally, we received your letter, for which we were anxiously waiting.  I am extremely grateful for your regards and ask you to continue writing to me, and I hope that I, myself, will not be in debt to you.

 My dear, I don't really know what to write about, you already know everything from others.  Personally, I have nothing new.  I am well, and I hope to hear the same from you.  Most of my time I spend in the shop, and in the evening I help around the house.  This is how I spend time day after day, year after year.  Hanna is leaving soon, it will be very boring for us then, and it will be hard to get used to, but there is nothing we can do.  She is in Rechitsa now.  She is there to have her coat made.

 I wish you to be healthy and happy.

Your sister Baylya.


Letter 63: "Write often"

Russian/Yiddish [not translated]

...Write often.  It's been a long time since we received your letter.  We didn't know what to think, but thanks to Aunt Rachael, we learned that you are all, thank God, well.  Our Hanna is now in Gomel.  Nissen is also there.  They have sent you a separate letter.  We have received a letter from ...  He has settled very well.  He gets 50 rubles a month.  He is coming back on June 20 on vacation...


Letter 64: "I send all of our people"

My dear sister Baska and dear brother Menakhem,

     First I can write to you I am healthy.

     I hope I will hear from you the same I am very grateful for your regards to me, and I am asking you to remember me in the future. Write to me and I will write to you.

     My dear, until now, I was in Gomel, and now I am at home. Poppa made the seder. I am now in a shop because Neesen went to Reygitz to sell a few things. I would write more, but Poppa wrote everything in detail. With respect, your sister,

I send greetings to your dear children, and to the aunt and uncle, and to all of our people. And I am waiting impatiently for the answer from you, and kiss you all.
 [What follows is part of same letter]

My dear sister Baska and dear brother Manakhem

     I'm very grateful for the greeting from you, and I am asking you in the future to send us letters and I hope I will be able to answer. Now I learning how to sew from Hanka [Hanna]. Be healthy,

your sister,
I bow to your children and everyone there and kiss you strongly, with a passion.
[This is also part of the letter]

Dear sister Basya and dear brother Manakhem, and the nephews,

         How do you live and what's new in your life, and how is your health? I am healthy and I would like to hear the same from you. I don't know what to write about. There is nothing new in our life. Everything is as it was. I am at home and I take care of the house and a little bit I help in the shop.


Letter 65: " is a terrible time in Russia. There is famine and people are falling off
                         their feet like flies...They suffer from different bandits"

January 2

My dear sister and shvieger [brother-in-law], with the children.

 It is a long time since we corresponded. Even so I sent a letter recently which you probably didn't get yet. I am all the time in Gomel. I work but I can barely make ends meet. And I think that now is a terrible time in Russia. There is famine and people are falling off their feet like flies. It is impossible to make any money. The flour costs millions per pud and everything is extremely expensive. Even though it is so difficult people are still able to survive. But in small provinces it is even worse. They suffer from different bandits and one can write stories about it. I think you know about it. The family sends regards and is fine. Neesle was on military service for two years and now he is at home. Hanka has a little job. Baylya does everything in the shop. She is a good housekeeper. She became a good young woman and beautiful. Miritzka is going to school. Yanka is in Moscow. He has become a big young man and a smart one. He has been away from his house for a full year. Shayna is taking care of the household. The general condition in Gomel is quieter compared to the last year. Many people had left and now have returned. Those who settle in town do not go back. Uncle Gershon is in Reygitz and won't come back to Kholmich. They are fine. In Reygitz?, Hanna [which?] and Endura are working for the Soviet Government. So all our relatives, thank God, are healthy. Uncle Neesen  is not good all the time [Not Bessie's brother]. He has already two children and they are very sweet. Uncle Aron financially is fine.  Aunt Myrztal is not that good. Hanna was living with them. Golda and Motel are also not that good. They barely have enough to live. But there are those who live worse. On behalf of living relatives in Gomel, thank God they are healthy and their children are working.

[Moishe Rapoport]


Letter 66: "I went outside and saw people running and shooting, one after the other. I
                    couldn't return home, so I ran away..."

In Yiddish

1921 Kislev December 4 and December 17.

How are you dear Chotel [We could not identify this person], and how is your dear wife and your dear children, and the dear and beloved grandchildren?

I and Hanna are at Michla's and we find ourselves in the best of health. Nissel is in Retzitze, Chaim and Hodel Yekl in Niezin, Michael in Yakutarsk. He got married and she's a very nice girl. She's a dentist and earns well. He is a bookkeeper in a drug store. They have a  very nice girl called Shainke.

Esther went to Yakvos and we have had no letter from her. Things now are quiet here and we have great hope that it'll stay that way. It is with great joy that I can write you that it's been quiet from after Sukkos until now but we heard that there is a gang of robbers called Balachavtze who go around killing so we had to hide our possessions.

We hid all our possessions in a store and I ran away to Mamel. At first I went to Gomel and stood in Rudnia - 5 miles from Gomel and I was 9 miles from Choimetz [Kholmich].

Whenever this gang passed through, they killed all the Jews and they also killed all the Jews in the village of Vashilov. They robbed everyone of all their possessions. In Choliatch, over 100 men robbed the whole city, and in Retzitze [Reygitz], the army came and they also came to Choimetz with several units and they beat up the robbers.

In a short time, we came back to Choimetz because it quieted down there. We were afraid to stay in the store where our possessions were hidden. Everyone spread false rumors and we believed all of them. Chaim remained in Gomel. Little by little, we started taking out our possessions from the store. It was hard to live without earning anything.

On Saturday, the 22nd of January [?], we got up and were very frightened. We didn't know what was going on. We heard noises and people running. I went outside and saw people running and shooting, one after the other. I couldn't return home, so I ran away to the other side of the river and the whole time, people kept bumping into me and I kept asking them about my family. On that day, we ran about 10 miles on that road. We heard that many people were killed on the streets, but we didn't know who.

           During that day, we sent a gentile who discovered that there were 15 people who were killed. Everyone in the city disbursed, but when they returned, they discovered that mostly everyone from the city was still alive. Most of the people hid in a ditch under the bridge from which they could look out.

When we came back to the house, we could see that everything in the house, including Hanna's machine and all the dishes and windows were broken. Thank God our souls remained alive although Elya's aunt was shot.

        Hidden in our house were Khaya Eossel Goldansky, Hirshl Ruvitz's aunt, M.Guraniet, Shmerl Reve Yechial's 2 daughters, Beryl Fuf's aunt, Baruch Arke's son, Yankel Gila Visatski's daughter, Basel Fruma, Michal Spivak and her husband, Binden, Shlomo Makanovsky, Michael and his wife and 2 daughters, and 2 strangers.

Almost every week, they would bring the bodies of those killed in the village. Most of them were workers in the village and they included: Wolbe the shoemaker, Hanka and her 2 children. Others who were killed on the dirt road were Smuel Moshe Dvorgen, Perle Fayge, daughter of the deaf one and her husband.

Everyone who hid in our house remained alive although our windows were broken...

                                             [Rest of letter cannot be found]


Letter 67: "We were robbed and they took absolutely everything...including the underwear"

In Russian, back is in Yiddish [not translated]

Dear sister Baskya, dear brother Menakhem, and my dear nephews,

 How is your life?

 We are all fine and I hope that you are the same. For a long time we haven't gotten any letters from you. We were very worried at that time. Poppa wrote a detailed letter to you. We are alive, and a person who is living can work and make enough and start over again. Even so it is hard to start from the beginning because we were robbed and they took absolutely everything, all the clothes, including the underwear. Everything that was in the house. All this was bought over a lifetime. But now everything is fine in the town. Everything is quiet. Uncle Gershon went to Reygitz and many left.

 There is nothing new in my life. I work in the same place. There isn't much to do. But Mikhla, our Mikhla, is learning how to sew from me. She is already a big girl. But the rest is the same, and it is extremely boring here and many people have left. Kholmich now looks like a small village, smaller than a village. Dear Baska, I think you know my girlfriend Esther. She got married a month ago.  She has a sister Dorba [?]. Esther is thinking in the near future to go to America because he [she?] has relatives there. Please write my dear. How is your life. How is your health, do you make enough to support yourself? Please write in detail and I will do the same.


Letter 68: "I don't have much work now...I am sick of living in a small provincial town and
                      having a small provincial life"


Dear brother Menakhem and dear sister Basya,

 Be happy with your dear children.

 My dear, I am grateful for your regard to me. And for the future please write us letters and we will do the same for you. Well I don't know what to write. Papa and Neesen have already wrote everything about all of us and our lives. But I can tell you about myself.

 I feel fine. I don't have much work now. Not just me, but all the dressmakers now don't have a lot now. You need to have a license to do this kind of work now and this is expensive. And for your labor, people do not pay that much, actually very little. I decided to go to Gomel and maybe we will stay there and work there. But I haven't decided this yet. Chaim is asking me to come. He is in Gomel and has a good life, and that's why I want to go there. I am sick of living in a small provincial town and having a small provincial life. And we have a lot of financial difficulties after we were robbed. We didn't buy anything for ourselves because it is too expensive to even think about it. We are very grateful for your packages. From a sleeveless dress I made a skirt for Sonya and the rest of the stuff like shawls and blouses. Everything is good for Mikhlya. For Baylya and I are round and only the white blouse is good for us, and the stockings. But the boots and shoes need to be changed because it is not fashionable [meaning, "inappropriate"?] over here to have boots like this. And the third package we didn't get yet.

 Please write how is your life, how you live, and why you stopped writing letters often. However, we are also not very good in this matter. You promised to send a picture of your children. Try to do so, it would bring us a lot of pleasure  to our life. Please write about everything. Be healthy and our regards to Uncle Aaron and Aunt Rachel, with their children. The sister who has loved you very much,


Letter 69: "Kholmich is now worse than a village"

Russian/Yiddish [not translated]


...Although she now has some work, it's nothing...

 Kholmich is now worse than a village.  There are no young people left.  So, it's boring and sad here.

 She still can't forget what happened to her last year [the robbery?]... but, thank God, she is well.  Write about yourself, my dear.  We are very grateful for your children's greetings.  Please, send their pictures.  Give my best to uncle Aaron F. and Aunt Rachael, and also to Annochka, Borka, and Tsilichka.  I wish you all the best.  Also give my regards to the Galpirin and to the Chernyak brothers.

your Nissen.

Letter 70: "We are not at all upset that we have nothing now.  We are happy that we are
                      alive and well and have what is left....If it is possible, try to send things for
                      Hanka's trip to America"


My dear brother Menakhem!  And my dear sister Bessie!

 Live happily with your darling children.  I and all our relatives are, thank God, well and are sending you their best wishes with a feeling of gratitude for your attention and compassion for us.  I cannot describe our joy when we get a letter from you.  And when we are reading it, don't even ask, just take yourself as an example, what gladness you feel when you read our letters.  My dear, I consider myself guilty for such long silence, not writing to you.  I don't know what to say, only I can promise that from now on I will write more often.  I hope that this will not happen in the future, for it is my duty to write frequently.

 Still, I think I should justify my now writing.  At least briefly, I will describe my life from the year 1915 to this day in 1922.  In 1915, I was taken into the service [trans: "doesn't necessarily mean the army - maybe a government job"], and I served until 1918.  After that I returned home and began travelling to Gomel and other cities to get goods again, i.e., I became a commercial salesman in Kholmich.  I was delivering goods for myself in the shop and for other shopkeepers in Kholmich.  I was doing this until year 1920, and the life was good at home.  We bought a lot of clothes for ourselves, and there were enough goods to sell in the shop, all the children we doing well in school, and, generally, almost no one was in need, although even then, to tell the truth, there were little problems.  But these problems were not as much felt as they are now... but it's all from God.

 Actually, we have had bad luck since 1920.  Either Poles or Germans were giving us grief.  Then, we began to prosper again for a short while.  Although I have been in Soviet service since 1920 and haven't lived at home at all, I managed to get myself a good coat and nice suits.  I got a lot of money during the first year on the service.  I often sent home goods for the shop.  But since the last year, after we had been robbed, our life has not been the same.  I remained in my service until February, 1922, but this year was so bad that I couldn't buy anything for myself, and the same was happening at home.  But there is nothing we can do.  We are not at all upset that we have nothing now.  We are happy that we are alive and well and have what is left.  Now, when life became quiet in our little village again, it started to get better, although it is still hard to get clothes or food.  We have some potatoes and flour stored in our house, but that's it.  We also have some wood chopped.  This will be enough for the next 3 months, and that's the most important thing.  We've got this only because our father was teaching children and was paid in food by the contract from the masters.  Thank God for that, at least. I quit my service now and sit at home.  There is nothing to do.  So, after you've heard all this, I ask you again, please, don't be angry at me and forgive me for now writing to you for so long.
 If it is possible, try to send things for Hanka's trip to America, unless you have no money.  She can't find herself here.  She has, apparently, no luck here...

Letter 71: "It is really a very bad year after being robbed"

June 6  [1922]

My dear,

 Your registered letter from May 4, we received on June 2. We are very, very grateful to you my dear sister that you gave us such joy and pleasure because you wrote about everything about your life in detail. Your criticize me that I didn't write you for a long time as if I forgot about you. Yes my dear sister, you can blame me in many things but not in this. I agree I am guilty in front of you but not in this. How can you say "to forget," who do I have closer than you? And who else can feel about one another than I do? You are lonely over there but we are here. But you can't compare your loneliness to ours. You are absolutely right in your expressions but in reality it is not like you think it is. Trust me my dear that your are in my memory and my memory will never be without you.  It is impossible to forget about you.  You gave us so much pleasure before you left us. Now you share with us your life, spiritually and financially. And maybe even you share the last piece with us. But what can we give you? How can we be grateful to you for this? We also share with you everything, but in what sense? Only our letters, our words in the letters. And besides sadness and worries, we don't give anything to you.

 I know very well that you exaggerate our financial situation many times more than it is in reality. It is really a very bad life after being robbed but we can not [ sin?].  Of course last year it was worse than this year. Thank God it has become quieter in our town  and we started to live almost as it was before. Therefore my dear do not worry about us. And don't worry when you do not get letters in time. Our father is always busy and in general does not like to write letters. And I just freed myself from the service.  It was difficult for me to write there. Therefore forgive me for my coldness that I didn't write to you for a long time. Forgive me. For the future I hope that I will write in time. Now I am at home and almost don't do anything. Therefore I will ask everyone in the family to write letters often.

 What can I write to you about Hanna's trip? We don't really know much. For her it will be a very difficult step. As much as you know how people suffer on their way to America, it is impossible right now. Maybe the circumstances will change, then maybe Hanka will go. She is 25 years of age now. If her certificate of birth will be needed, we will send it to you. In my opinion we should wait with her trip. She lost interest because of the same reason. Someone from over here went to America before Rosh Hashonah of last year, but they are still in Warsaw.  These people are lucky. They were able to leave the area very quickly before it became Soviet. Please write your opinion about it.

 Chaim till now works in the same place, with leather. Now he works with the Soviet. Now he is travelling to different cities, and he brings the goods to Gomel. He sells and then he leaves. All the time he lives in Gomel, and to here he comes seldom. Thank God he is healthy, but why he doesn't write I cannot answer. We are all in good health and send our regard that you are the same.  You wrote to us that in your first letter you put one dollar. We didn't receive a dollar. Do not do this anymore. And do not send dollars by mail either. Because we can't buy with dollars. We use Soviet money.We didn't receive your packages yet. We only received a package which was sent to the address of [?] Chernyak. We received in that package, one box of tea, two packages of sugar, two cans of sardines, two dozens buttons, two packs of sewing needles, one box of coffee, and that's all. We didn't receive any more packages from you. When you send it we will definitely receive it. I am asking you my dear if it is possible to send us photographs of your boys. This will be the best present.

 Write about everything about your health, how you feel,  and in general, how are your children, and how you live.  And I also ask you my dear brother Menakhem, please write often. We were very confused that you didn't write anything in the previous letter. Please write about your life and write often and we will do the same. Write to me if you go to a dacha and to where. We are very grateful for the packages you have sent us. Be healthy, I kiss you,

[The same letter continues]

My dear Baska, Menakhem, and my dear nephews,

 How is your life. Your long awaited letter was a happiness and was received by us. Your brought with your letter so much pleasure to all of us. What can I write about our life?
 I am busy only a little bit. [unclear where she is working]. About my trip to America, I really don't know what to do. Father doesn't agree that I should go and I am afraid of the trip from Kholmich. Several left and even half a year later they are still in Warsaw. But trust me dear Baska. If I had wings I would fly to you, to see you, to talk to you about everything. I think in time everything will be possible. Our life here is not something to envy. Please write about your life. Regards to Aunt Rakhil and Uncle Aron with their children, and to Galpirin.



Letter 72:  "And everything bad what we experience, the beatings and we bent our backs and
                       we hide ourselves and we hide our heads but we are alive... one time the
                       Haggadah will tell a story about it during the seder.

Dear sister Rachel [Aunt Rakhil],

 Have a happy life with Aron and your children, Khaika and Bulka [Boris] and with your [his?] dearest wife. Enjoy your life and be merry. From your letter of May 2. I received that letter months after it was written. I wanted to wait several days before sending you a response. Then I found out you sent me a package and I decided not to wait. I wanted to show my gratitude as soon as possible for a warm spiritual letter from you, and to talk to you about such a long silence.

 When I was reading your letter I recall a sentence from the prayer book [Unclear. Translator's interpretation: "because nothing heard from them, they thought they were lost, and they themselves felt lost"]. But we had found each other and will live, thanks God. There is no end to my happiness. I put your pictures on the table where I write this letter and it seems to me I am talking to you personally. I am asking you my dear sister and my dear shvieger [brother-in-law] do not worry about me. I never in my short life lived the way good people live. That's why I hope I won't die. "The one who doesn't live doesn't die. And the one who doesn't fly doesn't fall." It is good for me what my life is. It is good enough for me what I eat and what I drink and when I have a good time, as long as I don't borrow from anyone anything and as long as I don't ask anything of anyone.

 I allow myself right now to ask about some help if it possible and if you have the financial ability in such a bad time to help all of us with food. I was hoping for help from Rokhel Razel, children of Shiman Label [?]. I know that one of them bragged that they were rich. Let God give them what they want in their life. And if they can lend to the uncle I would be very grateful for this help. I am poor. My dear you know that they can lend to the uncle in this unhealthy, bitter, unhappy time. I am not asking only for myself, but I am asking for my children. [?] has enough to support themselves. I am asking as a human would ask another human being. I am asking them to share the food with someone who is hungry and I am asking them to share a shirt with someone who has nothing on his back. I want you to know that your dollar costs here millions. A food or clothing package for $l0 is approximately 30 million here. For example 250 rubles costs one pound of bread. Twenty-five million a pair of shoes.  Write to me their address and I will correspond with them if they want. And if their pride allows them to have the connection with the uncle from Kholmich. They are now American scientists, writers, who write in Hebrew and Jewish literature!

 Either they write and teach us that a person is not born only for themselves. Tell them my dear sister that uncle also helped people in a time when he could. And he helped you in a time when he couldn't and didn't have much. Write to me my sister. They want for uncle to write or ask them. But I will write. Every sentence which they will read to our uncle will be written as a golden title and will be there forever. They won't lose anything. But if they lose something, they will be compensated for it ten times more.

 What is happening in Russia now you are well aware of.  Our condition in Russia, especially in Ukraine, what we had to experience and how we are living now in a time when they don't let us live. And everything bad what we experience, the beatings and we bent our backs and we hide ourselves and we hide our heads but we are alive. Now the situation, the storm, is changing, and the bad time is becoming a little better. The dark cloud lets the sunshine through. And we will see the sunshine and one time the Haggadah will tell a story about it during the seder. Until we meet in Jerusalem. Our nephew, Mirrile,  Mikhail was born again. [In this letter, the name "Mirrile" and "Mikhail" seem clearly linked. But this connection becomes confused in later letters]. He was sick for 21 days, and there were moments when we didn't have any hope. But thank God, God returned him to us so he can live. His wife is a dentist. He has a good life. He is a cashier at the pier [selling tickets for boat rides]. He works for the Soviet authority and they pay him with products and they have enough to buy bread and that is what people consider to be happy people. Let God give him.
 I don't do anything right now. Not because I am lazy and don't want to work. I simply don't have a job. So I started to make honey and it wasn't that bad. But a time came when I lacked the raw materials for this production, which I used before, but now we don't have it. And no one cares that we don't have. A very sweet life without honey. Now you can understand how we live. The one comforting thought is that the harvest will be good enough and that this year will be better. And then they will take a rope from our legs and arms and they will let us  live, a little of whatever is left. And for those who are left. Greetings to all my sister from myself, for the children with their families [name follow]. Greetings to all. Write to me in details, how they live, where they lives, and the addresses so I can write to all of them. I hope you won't refuse my only pleasure. If you want to send me a pair of boots, my size is 6 1/2 but the shorts are the same size as Aron has. And please send to Mirrile's address because then we don't have to pay anything for it because he works for the Soviet government. And you will write to me in a letter what you are sending and Mirrile will give it to me.

[Moishe Rapoport?]


Letter 73: "The clouds are thinning and there'll be light"

In Yiddish


Blessing from the sky and from me the honored old man. You should have long life for your family and offsprings.

"What can I say and what can I explain." After the disappointments, there should be a good life. The clouds are thinning and there'll be light. And hope will come and rescue us and I'm writing this to all of you.

Peace to my sister and to Aaron and to your offspring. I thank you for your letter. The situation, Batsheba, should be well, will explain.

From today on, write us and we will answer you. Thank God that we remained alive and with miracles, God will help us for further.

Write about Michael's children. They don't interest themselves in us at all. They surely must have heard what happened to us.

Be well and write about your health and income. Write about your brother and brother-in-law.

Your uncle, Aaron Moishe Rapoport


Letter 74: "...let them try and taste all of these unusual delicacies"

Moscow, a letter from a cousin,
serving as an intermediary

February 26, 1922

Moscow, Svetnoy Blvd., 1st Znaminsky #10. Apt. 9

My dear Max and Basheva,

      We have received the package for Uncle Aaron Moishe in good condition and immediately we sent it to Gomel where at the present time is your brother Nathan Rapoport [?]who will of course immediately give this package to Kholmich. When the package arrived we faced a question: maybe it would be more logical and practical to sell all the things here and send the money to them, because groceries are more expensive here than there, but we didn't do that, because we decided the money isn't as important as the attention which is expressed, and let them during their lifetime, after so many gloom and difficult conditions and gray weekends, let them try and taste all these unusual delicacies which they never allowed themselves to have.

      Now to business. In the future, don't send any packages to my address. It's unreasonable to send it to Moscow when you can send it directly to Gomel. But even better is not to send packages at all, but rather use "The American Society," which helps Russians, where you may give them $10 and the Gomel address, because in Gomel they have an office, and over there they will give out 6 pounds of groceries, which includes flour, oil, cheese, sugar, everything that is really necessary. The address is:

American Relief Administration
Russian Food Remittance Dept.
42 Broadway, New York City.

     Today we received a letter from our Aunt Rakhil. We were very happy, because it was 15 years since I saw her handwriting. Be healthy, greetings from my wife and daughter. Thank God, we are alive and healthy. Barsheva, I am giving you the address of Mikhail: Dentist, Beksner-Rapoport, in Yekaterinoslav,
Petrograd St. 42

Vash Cherniak [a brother of Louis Shearn]


Letter 75: "First of all, I don't have clothes..."

Sept 2

Respectful and dear brother Menakhem, respectful and dear sister Basya,

 Have a happy life with your children.

 My dear, for the pleasure which you gave us with your letters and also your food packages (and we have been using the food), thank you very much. For your attention, compassion to us, thank you.  All the food packages which we received through  [name] help us a lot. Also it was a great support for us to have flour and [Jewish words in Russian follow]. We  didn't see this in the house since I don't know what time. Everything you have sent us is useful. Your letters  are more dear to us, more than anything else.They are priceless. We are very grateful for your devotion to us.

 My dear sister, you are worried about our life. But you have the right description of it. At the same time you criticize me that I am still single and that my style of life is the same. You are right. I agree with you but what can I do my dear? I am sick of my life and its time for me to leave my father's house. And not just once did I try. In 1916 I left the house and went to the army [?] for two years. In 1920 I started to work, not because I wanted to, and was there until 1922. And I didn't see anything good there either. And now probably I could escape [trans: a strong word used!] the house. There are no limitations against my getting married. But it only seems like this. It is a very difficult set for me. First of all, I don't have clothes...

[the letter appears to end]


Letter 76: "Our tears rolled down from eyes from joy. Especially because you wrote that you
                     are exactly the same Barsheva"
June 10, 1922

from Yekaterinoslav

My dear Basya and my dear Menakhem,

 My dear, you can not imagine my happiness  when I finally saw a letter from you my dear sister after such a long time. Our tears rolled down from eyes from joy. Especially because you wrote that you are exactly the same Barsheva. What else can I need!  And I only wish for you happiness and never to be in need and to have joy from your children. I hope you will now write often to me, and with pleasure I will write to you. And we won't distance one from the other, because I always was with you, with Khaika, with Neesen much closer than with the rest of the family. I didn't know them as well as I knew you, and I didn't live a long time with them. Trust me, that my past devotion to all of you is still with me and is as strong as it is before, especially in the time when Khaika is not with us anymore. You probably have guessed that for four years you have become dearer to me and closer even though you are physically further away. We all lived together for a long time and this cannot be forgotten, but enough about this. I think Basya that you believe me and trust me.

 My dear, we are grateful for your package even though we didn't receive it yet. We will probably get it in two weeks. The package will be useful because after my sickness, I need to get well again. I had spotted fever or Typhus and was lying down for 5 weeks. I just got up before Shevuous. Thank God that I am alive after such a dangerous illness. Many have died. It is a miracle that my weak body survived such a sickness. Of course I lost a lot of weight, but I am getting it back. Of course I need finances to get well because butter, cocoa, milk, chicken, white bread is very expensive and one needs millions and so your package will support me. But it is painful that I am using you. You yourself are not rich and you have a family. So please Basya don't send me packages anymore. I don't want to take it from you. But if you can, it is better to support our father because in his old age he wants to become a teacher again (a melamed). This is a difficult labor and with his weak health it is not easy. Besides no children except Chaim have a job and they are all next to him and don't make anything. But about me, even so I am in need now because my sickness took a lot of money and strength. The paycheck is not enough to cover all the expenses. To make money on the side I still cannot do, because of my weakness. My wife Liza does not have enough patients in her office. This is a bad time, but I think that maybe Uncle Zelek will be able to send me a package, and also I would ask you to talk with Sholomon Chernyak who worked with Label. I don't know who is more well-to-do, for them to support me with a package or something else so I can get back on my feet. And when I recover I hope I will be able to make a living and will return them a favor. Please show them my letter. It is hard to write them a separate letter because my hand is still shaky.
 Don't send money because they will not exchange it for much. And please do not put money in an envelope because they take the money out. For Sonya we didn't get. All we received was an empty piece of paper. They took it out at the post office, here or in America and this is not for the first time. The best is to send food or clothing through an American relief group. Tell this to everyone. A package with clothing needs to be sent to a person who is a member of a labor union. Otherwise postage is due and it is is every expensive. I am a member of a labor union and I don't have to pay the fee. Therefore tell Aunt Rachel Friedman if she can send to Uncle Abram clothing, let her send it to me. This way he doesn't have to pay.

 Now to you Basinka. I'd like to ask you if it is not too expensive to send to us a few pounds of cocoa of good quality. They have it here but it is very expensive and its not the real stuff. And Liza asks if it is possible to send some small boxes of cement to make fillings for the teeth. This can be bought in a dental supply store. One box here costs 4 to 5 million rubles. Your price is probably $1. Cement from the firm of "White" is of good quality, but if it is expensive do not buy it.

 From May 3, I have not heard from my father, but before then I heard often, as well as from Frieda Galpirin. All of my family abroad should put together $3 or $4 to support the father. He served us. They were robbed last year and they don't even have underwear. Everything was taken away. I and Uncle A. A. sent a little bit, but this summer I cannot do it. I felt bad for Hanka that she is wasting her life there. And also Neesen that until now he cannot live separately and he is not young anymore. He has no money and he has nothing really. Of course his life should be better. Neesen is kind and wonderful...

[Rest of letter missing]


Letter 77: "Forgive me my dear that I am upsetting you, writing about our situation"



..all this together made a great influence on our economic conditions.  Prices grow every day, only bread is now much cheaper, but other goods are very expensive.  And I'm not even talking about clothes and shoes.  The winter is coming and we have to store up fuel [wood].  (One cube [cubic meter?] costs 1 million rubles now.)  But we hope we can get out of this situation somehow.  Just yesterday, we received a notice that we got a parcel (i.e., with provision) from [Uncle] Zelik.  If he can also send us some [wood], we will have fuel too.

 Forgive me, my dear, that I am upsetting you, writing about our situation.  But I want to write the truth and to share.  I received a letter from Uncle Zelik a month ago, and I haven't answered him yet for the same reason.  But now I will write to him too.  But for now, if you see him, give him my best regards and tell him that we have received his parcel already.  Tomorrow or the day after (depends on how fast the line will be going) we will get it, because we already have the notice.

 His letter brought us a lot of joy.  It is not because of the parcel, of course, but because of the letter itself.  If you could only see what a faithful, full-of-love letter it was.  It touched me to tears.  Write me, Bessie, how he is doing.  How is his economic conditions, and can he help me, at least 10 - 20 dollars.  It is not much money, as long as he has a job, but I don't want to burden him...

 I get letters from father and Nissen often.  They also have a hard life.  Of course, they have enough to buy bread, but they are "naked" ? have no warm clothes, no under-wear, and in order to buy all this, they need tens and hundreds of millions.  Nissen is now with us, in Kholmich.  The son of Narotitsky came here from Kholmich yesterday and said that they have received a notice for 2 parcels from you, and Nissen went to Gomel to get them.  Father have sent me 1 1/2 pounds of flour before...

Letter 78: "Well, I spend my time the same way always. We opened our little shop again"

My dear brother Manakhem and my dear sister Baska, and my dear nephews Yashka and Gershunka,

     Live in happiness my dear.

     It was a long time since we received any letters from you, and we didn't know what to think, but I am grateful to Aunt Rachel who told us you are in good health. My dear, what can I write, there is nothing new in my life, but I feel good. Well, I spend my life the same way always. We opened our little shop again. Now Balya is spending most of the time in the shop and I help her there. And that's how I pass my time. Hanna left to go to Gomel to buy something in preparation for the wedding. Neesen is now in Gomel. Temporarily he is working for Chaim. Chaim took a vacation for two weeks to go to his dacha. We received a letter from Yankel telling us about this. My dear, write us what is happening in your life, how you live, and do you make enough for your life. And how is your health. In one word, write about everything--we are interested. I wish to all of you, be healthy and happy.

Your sister,

I send hearty greetings to Uncle Aaron, Aunt Rachel, Nusya, Borya, Tsilka and Galpirin.  My dear brother Menakhem and Baska and my nephews, be happy. My dear what can I write you? I really don't know. Nothing is new in my life. Till now I was sitting home, not doing anything. But now we open a shop, and I'm there all day long. My dear please write everything.

[This latter part may have been written by someone else]


Letter 79: "We have just enough for bread and one thinks of anything more
                    than that"

In Yiddish

Adar  2/19 [ 1922/1924]

God bless you my dear one and your family and dear Batsheba and your offsprings, my grandchildren Yakov and Gershon, should live long and bloom like the cypress trees in Lebanon.

Firstly, I, Nissen, Chaim, and Hanna, Shayne Bayle and Yakov and Michael,Thank God, are all alive.

We got your letter, to my heart's joy, before Shabbos. It was from January 28th, and also, we got the bundle you sent from Cherniak in Moscow. He sent it and we got it Wednesday evening, March 1st.

On the same day, I got a letter from Michael and his wife, and their daughter, Shaynke. They live in a camp. He asked for your address and will write you a letter. Nissen is now in Retchiche for business. Chaim is in Gomel since last year. He earns enough money for his needs.

Yakov is in Moscow for work. This winter, he made a little and I also made a little money. I had 60 pounds of corn but had no other merchandise in the store. They stole things out of my store so Bayle is in there and earns whatever she can. We don't have enough extra money to spend. We just have enough for bread and potatoes but in these times, no one thinks of anything more than that.

They took everything from the store and didn't even leave us any underwear, shirts and nothing was left.

With such expenses, we're not hoping to buy anything for Hanna, and we had no work until now. Thank God, we have a little business now, but in Gomel there's not even a half a person left.

 Gershon sits in Retchiche. Until now, we were all near each other, afraid to leave the village. The roads were dangerous. Now, they fixed the roads near Gomel and you can travel to different villages. Little by little, living is getting back to normal. Until now, you couldn't even earn a kopek. The prices are high. A pair of shoes costs 6 million rubles.

I'm rushing to answer you. Your letter took 1 month to get here and until you get mine, it'll take another month which is 2 months.

We didn't use the flour you sent us. The first package which you sent with Nissen [and] Cherniak, arrived Saturday. We thank you much for your efforts on our behalf.

Regards to Chaya Rochel, Aaron and the dear children.  We'll write them a few words ourselves.

Be well and write me, my daughter of your health. I heard that you were weak. Take care of yourself.

From your father, Aaron Moishe

Regards from your old, honored one and you should live long. Thanks to you for your letter. You revived my soul with it. I'm your father- in-law, Aaron Moishe.


Letter 80: "Now everyone is going in different directions, and I must stay in his...lost place"

Dear sister Baska and dear brother Menakhem, and my dear nephews Yashka and Gershunka,

 Happiness to all of you.

 My dear, after such a long wait for a letter we have finally received it, which brought to us a lot of pleasure that you send regards in good health. My dear, we are very grateful for your attention and your regard to me and your wishes you gave. And the same to you, a lot of happiness.

 What can I write to you? There is nothing new, everything is the same. I feel fine. I am still doing the same thing. During the day I am busy at home. At night we get together and that is how the time flies. Day after day is the same. Hanna left yesterday for Reygitz to make herself a coat. She is preparing for her trip. She'll come from Reygitz and she'll go to Marioopal. It is too bad we will be separated and it is difficult for us because of all the years we have lived together and have grown accustomed to each other. Now everyone is going in different directions, and I must stay in this provincial, lost place. But what can I do. It's not going to be forever that we will all live together. There is a time for everything. Well enough about it.

 Write to us, how is your life, your health, and most important of course are you making enough money to support yourself. Please write often, and about everything, and in detail and I will do the same. Be healthy I wish you happiness in all that you wish for yourself.



Letter 81: "We both had worried faces"


My dear Baska and Menakhem, and my dear nephews, Yashka and Gershunka,

 Be happy.

 My dear, a long time has passed and we didn't have any letters from you until now. We sent several letters to you but we received no answer.  We don't know what to think. Maybe there is a reason, or something happened, something took place and you don't want to write about it. But whatever it is, write at least several words, at least about your health. Your silence hurts us. Six months have passed since your last letter. You cannot forget us in such a short period of time. I cannot believe this can take place. But you my dear Baska were such a devoted person to us and now you don't even ask us how life is. Especially now, maybe there is a reason. After Passover we wrote you, and even my fiance wrote you to introduce himself, and he got no answer. We are waiting and waiting all the time. We go the post office and we ask the mailman but he tells us the letter hasn't been written yet. Do you know how we feel then? You cannot imagine what we feel when we don't have an answer from you.You can't imagine how we feel when we don't have any letters from America. Your letter is everything to us. It is our joy. You don't know the emotions of joy we have when we read your letters. And now we don't have it. We must keep our relationship through letters because we are so far away and God only knows when we can see each other again. We should enjoy only through our letters.

 Now my dear I will write a little bit about myself. You know probably I will have a wedding. The wedding was planned for Shabbos, but there were reasons to postpone it. We were going to settle in Klemov, but he was offered another job, something related to forestry. Marioopal [a place] is even further away. My fiance has already left and I will join him there after the holidays. We had the registration here but didn't have the wedding yet, because he needed to leave immediately. He wrote to me everything is fine and I should prepare myself for the journey. And when it is time to go, father will go with me as far as Yekaterinoslav. We will stay at Mikhail's there, and that is where the wedding will take place, because my fiance will not go to Kholmich anymore. I've been in Gomel and made myself a suit and bought material for a coat. And of course Chaim helped me a lot, because from the house I couldn't take anything, because our financial situation is not that great. I stayed in Gomel for three months and had a very good time. I fixed all the clothes myself. And now I came back home and will do something for the family so they will have something to cover their nude bodies before I leave.

 Now my dear, write what is in your life, how do you feel, is Menakhem well again? How is your health and the children's? Are they healthy? How is your business. In one word, write about everything, in details. When you receive our letters please immediately send us an answer. Don't make us wait. You will bring a lot of joy and happiness to our lives. You cannot imagine how much health we are losing simply because you don't write. I am sending to you our photograph where I am with my fiance. But the photo is not that great. We both have worried faces. [The photo is dated 1925]. My fiance is wonderful, kind. He send you a regard. Please write letters to us often and in detail.

 Your sister and your aunt who sends you New Year's wishes of happiness and kindness.
 Kisses from Hanna

Regards to Aunt Rachel and Uncle Aaron, to Nooska, Tsilka and  Bolka and to the family of [?]. Sonya, Baylya and Mikhlya send to them their regards.

My fiance's name is Israel. I already wrote to you about him.

[Rest of letter is in Yiddish, not translated]


Letter 82: "What can I do? I can't live at home forever"


My dear sister Baska & my dear brother Menakhem & my dear nephews,

     Be happy my dears.

     Your letter we received with great happiness. It gives us joy and pleasure that you are all healthy. We've been worried how your health is, as we didn't get letters for a long time. We read your letter several times and had tears of joy in our eyes and we are grateful for your attention to us and me. The money you sent us we didn't receive yet, but we hope soon to get the money. What can I write you my dear? It will probably surprise you that I am still at home and I didn't leave yet. But I had my reasons which kept me here, namely my financial situation. I will leave tomorrow to [?] to buy a coat and from there I will go to Klemov to say goodbye to the relatives. And then I will be in Gomel. From there I'll come back home and then go to Marioopal, to Israel. It costs a lot to my health to leave home, but what can I do? I can't live at home forever with my family.

     I receive letters from Israel very often. He writes that he has settled down and he is waiting for my arrival. When I'll come there, I'll write you a letter. But you can respond to me through Marioopal [Mariupol]. I'll send you the address of the apartment and I hope I'll be there by that time. Israel sent you regards. He would write you separately, but he's upset that you didn't answer his previous letter which he wrote after Passover, together with our letter,where he at least wanted to introduce himself to you. You didn't answer him. But I really don't know why. Maybe you didn't receive the letter. But that's not important--that's the past.

     Write to me my dears, how is your health? That's the most important problem in our lives. Do you make enough of a living? Do your children go to school? Are they well? Write me everything and often. Don't force us to wait so long for your letters.  And please Baska and Menakhem do not forget me, write to me also and write to me through Marioopal. And please try to follow your promise to send a family portrait which will be the most precious gift to us. Write about everything and we will write to you. Israel [her future husband] asks forgiveness that he didn't write a separate letter. But he will later. Be happy, healthy, and the best wishes to all.

Your sister and aunt [to your children],


Letter 83: "My dear grandchildren should live"

In Yiddish


The portion of the week is Nitzavim and Vayelech. The month of Elul.

You should be inscribed and blessed with a Happy New Year and God should show you kindness and best wishes to you all.

How are you Mr. Menachem and how is your daughter and wife Batsheba? How are Yakov and Gershon and your offsprings? My dear grandchildren  should live.

Nissen was in Gomel all summer working with Chaim in his factory. Thank God, business improved this summer so there was work for everyone. He also clothed everyone and prepared everything needed for Hanna's wedding. We decided that the wedding should be on Shabbos Nachama, but since the groom opened another store with his partners in Marionpol, in the state of Yekaterinoslav, he had to go there and they postponed the wedding until he sees how the store goes and finds an apartment. Then, he'll write us and we'll prepare a chuppah and Hanna will go to Marionpol with him. We've already had several letters and the business is going well. He already got an apartment.

We figured that the wedding will be in Yekaterinoslav, so we'll also go. Meanwhile, we'll meet with Michael and get acquainted with our daughter-in-law and see his daughter. She's already almost 9 years old and I haven't seen her.

About my financial situation, I already wrote you that I found a store for little money. I put most of my money in the store. This is not a concern and we're making a little money. The little we have left over goes for food, but clothing ourselves is hard. Even though there's little money and it's hard I thank God for what we have when I remind myself about last winter when we earned nothing. God should keep us from paying high taxes.

Meanwhile, it's only been 3 months since we opened the store. Every week, I send money to Nissen in Gomel and he sends us material which I order from him in a letter.

We often have letters from Michael. They are, thank God, well and make a living. Only one thing makes me sad this summer - your silence for a half year, since before Pesach. Even Menachem wrote a letter from his vacation, also Chaya Rochel sent a letter while they were there, but there was no letter.
We are upset as you alone can understand, not having had a letter from you for over a half a year. We are anxious and I ask you, my dear children, whatever it is, write us the truth because thinking about this is sapping our health.

For Succoth, Chaim and Nissan will come to us for the Holiday, and, God willing, we'll write you a letter together.

Regards to Chaya Rochel and Aaron and their children. Be well and the Creator should make us happy with good letters from you.

From me, your father who waits for your letters to come quickly,

Aaron Moishe


Letter 84: "She is, as they say, a Jewish daughter"

In Yiddish
July 1, 1925

Peace to you, my son Menachem, peace to you Batsheba, peace to my grandchildren, Yakov and Gershon, should live long years, and to Shayne Baylya and Michlya, I wish you all long life today.

Nissen is now in Gomel. He didn't find work and cannot find a mate. Chaim is in Gomel and is working, Thank God. Their merchandise became well-known, and their business is going well. His situation improved, but he still owes a lot of money. He is not only paying his debts, but he's also helping Hanna in Gomel.

Hanna's groom is dear Arunelya's son, a pleasant fellow, who is somewhat educated and is honest. This summer, they'll get married in the month of Elul.

Whatever Hanna used to earn went into keeping up our household. She helped us when we sat without income. Now that she's getting married, she is, as they say, a Jewish daughter. She needs bed linen, dishes, clothes and outer clothes. So, Chaim supplied everything. He had a tough time this whole past year and is having a hard time now.

One problem leads to another, and now a lot of Chaim's merchandise came out not good, so he had to add money and when you don't earn, you tear yourself apart. He himself remained naked and without any work but he had no one to lean on, so we gave him some money for Pesach, for matzoh and everything one needs including shoes for everyone which we bought because the bandits robbed us of everything. I had nothing to wear for Shabbos.

Today, Nissen sits in Gomel all winter and since Pesach, he eats with Chaim. He also had to loan 100 rubles for Batsheba's clothes. I thank the Creator for sending him money along with the $20 sent to us.

We exchanged our money for them - 60 kopekas for 38 rubles and we also prepared corn for bread which we sold. Here, corn became expensive, over 2 rubles a pound. We made 30 rubles, so we opened a store. Now, we got a cheap license for 10 kopeks, which is good for a half year. Last year, we paid more for a half year which is good from April 1 to October 1st. I'll get the license in 2 weeks on June 15th and it costs much less than a full license. With our limited funds, you can imagine what little merchandise we can get and how little we can make.

We often get letters from Michael , thank God, he, his wife and daughter are well. There was a letter from Chaya Rachel and Aaron and there were regards from Menachem. But, from you, my daughter, there's been no letter for over 3 months.

I don't have to write you about my mood. You're also a parent and know how parents worry about children.

We wrote you a letter on Chalamoid Pesach. Nissen and Chaim were here for Yon-tov. Everyone wrote and sent regards. Up until we opened the store, we were absorbed with this, then, with so little money, we almost didn't open up because the expenses. were so high. Merchandise costs 3 times as much as before.

See to it that Menachem writes a letter soon. He promised to write as soon as he comes from vacation.

The summer here was cold but now it became warmer. The harvest doesn't look bad this year. Michael asks for you to write him letters. He says he'll answer you and confessed that he was wrong not to write you.

Maybe the children can write a few words. It would be dear to me. Write how they're doing with their studies and about their health. Write about Michlya's children [Unclear who this refers to]. They became distant from us.
Be well as wishes your father, Aaron Moishe Rapoport

I send regards to my dear brother-in-law, Aaron Freedman, should live, and his wife my dear sister, Chaya Rochel, live.

When I write separately, please read my letter to Batsheba, but I thank you deeply for your letter and I ask you to write us about your health and that of your children. It would be nice if they wrote separately. We would be thankful.

From me, your brother, A. M.


Letter 85: "Dear friends, I have something to ask you, a small favor..."

A note

Good afternoon, respectful friends, Alya and Esfera,

 In the event [?] that someone is writing a letter to you I decided to write hello to you. How is your life, how did you settle, how is your life? How is your daughter? She is probably bigger now. Write please about everything. Our Hanna got married and she left us and she is very far away.

 Dear friends I have something to ask you, a small favor, if it is not too difficult for you. Basya Rapoport, please go to [her] and find out what has happened, because for a long time we haven't heard anything from them and we didn't know what to think. I am asking you one more time my dear. Do not deny us a favor. Thank you very much and be healthy,

Sonya Rapoport

 I didn't write this note very well. I am sorry. I was in a rush to send this note.


Letter 86: "...your children...They shine in this picture"

May, 1925

Dear and respectful Menakhem and Basya,

 Be happy together with your wonderful children, Yashka and Gershunka.

 We are very grateful my dear for the photographs and the detailed letters. You can not imagine how great was our joy when I and Chaim came for Shevuous at home and saw your pictures of your beautiful, wonderful children who looked like real heroes and we were running neighbor to neighbor with the pictures to show them. Everyone, not only we, was amazed how beautiful they were. It is special for us, it has brought so much joy for us. You can be proud of them. They shine in this picture. [Then these Yiddish words written in Russian: "Vini bud szun yem"]. Let them grow and let the happiness grow with them. Let them have the best upbringing. Let them be happy and you have a lot of joy from them and kindness.

 What can I write my dear. We all get the letters together and we all share the joy after such a long silence. It was a real holiday for us. We are glad for your health and that of your children. We put the photograph at the table at the time when all the people in the room wished you and your children the best in life. Don't ask, that was the best, the greatest holiday of all.

 Basya, you write that you will send us the family photograph. When you will do so please send one for me and one for Chaim. I will write my address at the bottom of the page. We will be grateful for it. About my health I can't say much. I worked once in March with Chaim at the factory and I lifted something not very heavy. After that I had problems with my intestines. The food didn't go though. So I had an operation and it was successful and I haven't worked for a long time. I spent a lot of money and to nourish myself back.  I am back in Kholmich for two weeks and then I will return to Gomel to work. I feel, thank God, OK. I gained some weight, but I still don't feel the same. I hope everything will settle down and will return to what was before.

[Some words obscured on tape]
 There is not much news in my life. I would write more but I am rushing to go to the country. My address:

Leather Factory

[Writing on the side of the page follows]

Together with Chaim I will write a detailed letter, be healthy, your brother, Neesen

Please send my hello to Uncle Aron and Aunt Rakhil, to Borya, Hanka, and Tsilya and also to the family of Galpirin.


Letter 87: "...we put your pictures on the table, and we drank to you health"

My dear brother Menakhem and my dear sister Baska, and my wonderful nephews Yashka and Gershunka,

 Have a happy life.

 My dearest, your promised letter we finally received. We have been waiting for this letter for a long time. And also the photos of your wonderful children gave us a lot of happiness. You can not imagine, my dearest, our happiness when we see your letters and when we find out that all of you are in good health and that you have such wonderful boys. Let God give you a lot of happiness from them.  We were reading your letters several times and I felt like I was talking to you personally. Unfortunately, this will not happen, we will not be able to talk in person. So we have to enjoy the letters, and have a good relationship based on our letters.

 We received your letters on the first day of Shevuous. We keep a glass and we put the pictures on the table, and we drank to your health.  It was lonely without you, and at the same time nothing can be done. This is our destiny that you all have to leave us that far away, that we can't see each other. Nothing we can do. Well, as it said, it is better to hear the good one far away, then the bad one close to you. Well what can I write you, my dear. I don't know. There is nothing new. Our life is the same, day to day. I feel good. We are spending time in a regular way and that helps the time pass. We often gets letters from Hanna. She writes that life is good. Please write to us how is your life, how do you feel, how your health, how are your children, how are they in school, that's very important. Do you make enough money to eat? Write about everything, and be healthy and happy the way you want.

Your sister,
Now send my regards to Uncle Aaron and Aunt Rakhil with their children, and also to the family of Galpirin.

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