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  • ATTACHMENT #29

    SONYA'S TALE: RUSSIA, TZEDAKAH, KVETCHING & IMPOVERISHED DESPAIR

    Discussed in conversations of Barney R. Radov and Clare Levin

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  • ThoseleftbehindinRussiahavingsurvivedstarvation,WorldWarI,civilwarandpogromsfacedlifeinaUkraineunderincreasingattackbyStalin,whoinstigatedsomethingofagenocideagainstthoseunhappywithcommunistrule.ThecivilwarwhichfollowedtheRussianRevolutionleftover1.5millionpeopledeadintheUkraine,theGreatFaminekilledanother3.3million,andtheTerrorofthe1930skilledanotherthreequartersofamillionUkrainians.(ItisironicthattheGreatFamine,acombinationofgeneralcropfailure,expropriation,Stalinistterror,andbanishmentormurderofthosecomplaining,oftencalledtheHolodomor,issometimesblamedonJews.BecausesomeJewswerecommunists,asweremanymoreRussiansandUkrainiannonJews,Jewswereblamedforafaminetheythemselvestypicallyfellvictimto.AsSnyderrecountsinBloodlands,anewspaperreporterforPravdaresidinginMoscow,whoseJewishfamilylivedinUkraine,receivedaletterin1933fromhisfather:Thisistoletyouknowthatyourmotherisdead.Shediedofstarvationaftermonthsofpain.HerlastwishwasfortheirsontorecitetheKaddishforher.BlamingthemanyforthesinsofthefewisatthetraditionalheartofantiSemitism).

    TheOldJewishMillinRichelsdorf,

    perhapstheFalkensteins.

    PassersbynolongerpayingattentiontothecorpsesofstarvedpeasantsonastreetinKharkiv,Ukraine,in1933.

    HolodomorMemorialinKiev.

    Tragically,hardlyanythingisknownofthelifeofthefamilyleftbehind.AlittleinformationdoescomefromaletterfromLuba'smotherandhersisterSonya.Theletterisanappealformoney,onesuggestingdirestraits,andinterestingly,itreflectsthetoneofasimilarletter,alsoaddressedtoLubaandherhusbandMorrisRadov,fromthosewhohaditmadeout,butwereliving,ifnotinpoliticalterror,ineconomicsqualorinBrooklyn,namelyChernaBassandherfamily.

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  • Thetwoletters,lostfordecades,werefoundin2013.Thefirst,below,isatypicalpicturepostcardoftheoldtype:namely,notdisplayinginterestingscenes,butmoreliketheholidaygreetingscardsoftoday,showingapictureofthefamily.MorrisisreferredtobyhisHebrewname,Moshe,andLubabyherfullRussianname,Lyubochka.

    TheenvelopeshowsaRussianreturnaddress,withtheErie,PennsylvaniamailingaddressshowingthatSonyahadbeenmarriedtoanE.Belostotskyandhadmovedwithhermothertoanewcity.ShewasthenlivinginKrivoyRogat35KarlLiebknechtSt.Whatevertheattractivenessor,undoubtedlylackofit,ofthatresidence,today,perGooglemaps,thecurbappealhaschangeddramatically.

    TheOldJewishMillinRichelsdorf,

    perhapstheFalkensteins.

    TakenonSep,25.ForlastingmemoryTodearchildrenfromyourmotherandsisterSonya.ToMosheandLyubochkaandkids.

    25..

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  • 35KarlLiebknechtSt.

    KrivoyRog,attheconfluenceofthe IndustrialKrivoyRogInhuletsandSaksahianRivers

    KrivoyRog(nowKryuyiRihinUkrainian)isneartheEkaterinoslavoftheRadovs,nowDnipropetrovsk.Itwasfoundedinthe18thCenturybyaoneeyedCossacknamedRih.Despiteabeautifulriverfront,itisugly,industrialandplaguedbyStalinistarchitecture.Today,coveringalengthof80miles(thelargestinEurope)andhaving660,000people,becauseofabandonedmines,oldfactoriesandterriblepollution,itisconsideredtobealmost unlivable

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  • MapofModernUkraine MoreIndustrialKrivoyRog

    HeroesMemorialatKrivoyRog KrivoyRogSynagogue ItissaidinJewishfolklorethatpeopledietwice:firstatthetimeoftheirphysicaldeathandagainatthetimewhenfamilyandfriendsceasetospeaktheirname.WiththerecoveryofSonya'spicture,herseconddeathisnowerased.

    ******

    JewscametoKrivoyRogunderpressurebyStalin,whodeclaredittobeaJewishNationalAdministrativeRegionin1928.TheearlierJews,whohadbeentheresincethe1860s,weregenerallycraftsmen,whilethosewhocameinthe1920sand1930sweremainlyfactoryworkers.Oftheapproximately13,000JewsinKrivoyRogwhenW.W.IIbegan,theGermansmurderedover7,000.HowevertheCentralDatabaseofShoahvictimsforKrivoyRogshowsonlyoneBolostosky,IsaakYitzkhah(b.1900).Jewsremaininthecitytoday,withasynagogue.

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  • OfthemanyYiddishletterssentamongthefamilyfordecades,then,theonlytwosurviving,apparently,arethepairfromSonyaandhermotherinRussiaandanotherfromCherna(Jenny)BassinBrooklyn.TheyweresenttoMorrisandLubaRadov,ataboutthesametime,around1934,andonlyrecoveredwiththedeathofBarneyR.Radovuponsortinghiseffects.BothChernaandSonyaindifferentwayswereexperiencinggravedifficulties.Theyhadaskedbefore(and,atleastinCherna'scase,oftenaskedagain)formoneyfromMorris,who,byallaccounts,regularlycontributed,althoughhardlyenjoyingexcesswealthwhilerunningascrapyardinErieattheheightoftheDepression.Thelogicofthesecontributionsconstitutedsomethingquitedifferentthancharity:insteadtheywereareligiousduty,thetraditionalJewishobligationoftzedakah.ThewordinHebrewliterallymeansjusticeorrighteousness,notcharity,andinthatbothSonyaandChernaaskforthemoney,theyremindMorrisofhisobligations,eveninascoldingandchastisingmanner.

    Cherna(Jenny)LenaCarolSmithRadovBass

    MorrisandLubaRadov

    Thattone,calledakvetchorkvetching,referstofindingfaultwiththepersontowhomakvetchisaddressed.Therelationshipherebetweenthekvetchandtheinjunctiontodoonesobligationhardlyseemsagoodpsychologicalorpersonalstrategytogainsuccess.Thekvetchservesasareminderofthelistenersweaknessso,oncecriticized,theycanbemoregenerous.AswecanseeinCherna'sletter,shescoldsMorrisfornotinquiringadequatelyofthehealthofLeika(thatis,Lena),aboutnotunderstandinghissilence(notwriting),andsaying"perhapssomethingbefellyou"inanovertlysarcasticway.Shethencontinueswitha

    moregeneralcriticismofthefamilyatlarge,writingthatshehasnot"receivedaletterfromanybody.Ikeepthinkingaboutit."AfterremindingthemthatsheisveryaloneandIamasforlornasastone,sheadmitsthatshealreadyhaspromisedtorepaythemoneybuthasnot.Thatsaid,shegoesontheoffensiveyetagain,claimingthatherdifficultieshaveunfairlycausedhertobelabeled"notareliableperson."

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  • March19DearYissachar,Regardingourhealth,bynow,itsthankGd.IwrotetoyouaboutLeiki,andyouhaventeveninquiredabouthowsheis,aftershesbeensoill.Icantunderstandyoursilence.Perhapssomethingbefellyou.Writetome.IalsoaskedyoutonotifyZusieandCirka,andwehaventreceivedaletterfromanybody.Ikeepthinkingaboutit.Writetomeaboutwhathappenedbyyou.NowIaskofyou,Yissachar,Icantgethelpfromanybody,becauseIamveryalone,Iamasforlornasastone.Iaskofyoupleasekeepmealiveherewith50dollars.ItisErevYomTovandIsitherewithoutanything.Imcertainlynotareliablepersoninyoureyes,becauseof(themoney)Ihaventyetreturnedtoyou.Butitsnotmyfault,Ivebeenthroughverydifficulttimes,andLeikiwasanadditional(burden)forme.NowthatIaskforassistance;whenthingswillgetbetterIllreturnasmuchasIcan.Ifyoullbeabletosend,Iaskyou,pleasesendviatelegraph.Fromme,CharnaBassWesendyouallbestregards.Leikiisstillinthehospital,butisfeelingbetter.PleasewritetomeCirkasaddress

    TheYiddishinbothSonyasandChernaslettersistraditionalUkrainianYiddish,extremelydifficulttodaytofindanyonetotranslate.AmericanswithYiddishhavegreatlymodifiedit,andnolongerrecognizetheEuropeanoriginal.PerhapstheonlyreliablemethodofrecoveringoldYiddishistouseYiddishTranslation.comwithRabbiSchmuelElbingerinIsrael.

    ThetoneoftheletterfromSonyaandhermotherismuchthesame.Itbegins"howlongwillIhavetoaskyouwritealetter?Itiscostingmemyhealth.ThiswinterIalmostdied.Dutyisthenbroughtout,remindingthat"allthedarlingchildrenshouldwritetome."She,likeCherna,reportsherhealthIamalreadyoldandsick."

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  • DearChildren,HowlongwillIhavetoaskyouwritemealetter?Itiscostingmemyhealth.ThiswinterIalmostdied.Ihadgripthreetimes,inthisoneyear.Itwasaverydifficultwinterforme.Darlings,Iaskofyou,pleasewritemeletters.Allthedarlingchildrenshouldwritetome.Tellthemtheyshouldknowthattheyhaveabubba[grandma].OtherpeoplegetletterfromtheirchildrenandIhavenoluck.Theresnonewshere.Iamalreadyoldandsick,Iwouldatleastwanttoseeyouallonce,andthendie.Dear,deardaughter,ifyoucouldsendmeonepasilke[postalpackage.]Darling,whateveryoumanageIwillneverforgetit.Yourmother,whomissesyouverymuch.Replyquickly.

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  • MorrisandLubaRadovdidsendmoney,oftenandgenerously,(ascertainlydidothers,asforexample,MunisongoingbailoutsofBillCarol).ZusieandCirka(JoeandSarahRadov)hadbeentheearlybenefactors,spendingalltheirmoneytogettherelativesoutofRussia.MorrisandLubasupportedmuchofthefamilyfordecades.Inasmallerway,moneywaslentorgiven(typicallytherewasnorealdifference)tomany,oftenresultinginsmallgrievances,insults,andunrelentingsarcasm,butneverinanybreakinfamilyrelations,anyshunningorpushingaside,andhardlyanylordingoverbythosewho(usuallytemporarily)hadafew

    TzedakahmotifonaJewishgravestone.LocatedinaJewishcemeteryinOtwock,asmalltowninPoland.

    dollarsasopposedtothosewhodidnot.Thestrategyofinsultingsomeoneasapredicatetoaskingthemforhelpisdifficulttofathomtoday.It,perhaps,couldonlybeunderstoodinthetraditionalreligiouscontextofthemeaningoftzedakahasrighteousness,fairnessorjusticeand,asareminderfromthoseaskingtothosegivingthatitisreallyafavorconferredonthewealthierbytakingtheirmoney,asitiswell