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Rēzekne Families Stories and Pictures

Mednikov Family History

This information was submitted by
Amalia Zela

I am Amalia Zela (nee Mednikov). My father was born in Rezekne and lived there until he was twelve. Then the family moved to Riga and lived there until they came on Aliyah to Israel in 1934.

Here is a short summary of his life in Rezekne:

I was born in Rezekne (12.1.13). My parents were Meyer and Yente Mednikov. My father came from the city of Varonfrocsky, Ukraine. This was a small and not developed place. It a big industrial city today. My mother was born in Rezekne. She came from a large family. All her siblings went to the USA and England. She married Meyer and the three older children were born in Rezekne. The family lived in a large rented hut. The physical conditions were hard, similar to most of the houses. There wasn't running water. The Gentiles were paid to bring buckets of water from a well near the center of the city. The hut was surrounded by cherry trees that belonged to the owner; but we were allowed to use the fruit. Our mother made very tasty things from it.


Rezekne was almost an entirely Jewish city. Before WWI, 25,000 out of the 30,000 residents were Jewish. It was considered an attractive city. The streets had much greenery and fruit trees; most of which belonged to the Gentiles. The Jews worked in commerce, trades, and were merchants. Most of the agriculture was in the hands of the Gentiles, who sometimes rented it out to the Jews. In such cases the Gentiles brought the crops to the city.

There were shops in the city center. The connections with the Gentiles were not very good; but they did get along as far as the market and shops were concerned. My father was a shoemaker and barely managed to make a living. My mother helped, by repairing rubber boots, when it rained.


WWI started in 1914. Then our economic condition was bad. I remember the hunger. We collected potato peels from the garbage of the army and this was our main food. The War lasted in 1921 in the Latgale district of Latvia. We then received soup from the German army, after waiting on a long line. Afterwards, my mother was able to get flour from the Black Market, and baked and sold cookies to soldiers at the train station; so our economic situation was a bit better. We did not taste bread until the age of about 6. My brother and I started school (Cheder) together. This was a 2-storey red brick building. There were 30-40 pupils in each class room. The first language was Yiddish, but we had to study Russian and Latvian. Occasionally there were stick and stone fights with the boys from the Gentile school in the neighborhood. The teachers usually had to stop these fights. There were 2 Jewish elementary schools. It was forbidden to teach political views; but the teachers told about the "BUND" and Zionism. At the age of twelve, I was influenced by the literature teacher and became a member the Bund youth group "Shalom Aleichem. Afterwards I joined the HaShomer HaZair Zionist group "Bar Giora".


The Jarden family - the family of my grandmother
Yenta, L>R: Yenta, brother, sister, sisterLeah, sister-Duba, sister-Riva.


The Chanoch Mednikov Family
L>R: brother Shmuel, my father Chanoch,
my grandfather Meyer, sister Feige, grandmother Yente

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