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OLD LIVES, NEW LIVES: SOVIET JEWISH WOMEN IN
MINNESOTA

Interview with Dora Hack

Interviewed by Dianne Siegel, Shelley Rottenberg
and Linda Schloff

Interviewed on April 12 and 22, and May 3 and 9 1991
at the Saint Paul home of Mrs. Hack

[Tape 1 Side 1]
DS: This is for the project, Old Lives, New Lives, Soviet Jewish
Women in Minnesota. OK, why don't we start our interview with a
little background about you. How old are you?


DH: I am seventy one.


DS: And where were you born.


DH: I was born in Russia, Ukraine.


DS: Is there a city?


DH: Yes, Lvov. I was born actually not in Lvov -in a small town

near Kiev. After the War (World War 1), the town of Lvov started to

belong to Russia, before that it was Poland. That's my background.

DS: So the town was first Poland ...

DH: Yes, this town was first Poland, before the war, and then

Russian.

DS: Did you have sisters and brothers?

1



DH: Yes, I came from a family of eight. Three of them went to
America--long time ago, seventy years ago--that's why I am here
now; my two sisters

and a brother, but unfortunately, when I came here, just one sister

was alive; one sister was gone already, and my brother was gone.
DS: When were you married?
DH: I was married in 1940, just before the war.
DS: And how much schooling did you have?
DH: I had my twelve-grade school before the war, and after the war

I studied in the evening, in a private school. It was not private-there
is no private in Russia--but in was a school where I had to pay.

DS: And what did you study?

DH: I was studying bookkeeping and economy [economics?], and

since then I worked as an economist in a plant.

DS: Where did you work?

DH: In Lvov.

DS: How do you spell that city?

DH: L-V-0-V.

DS: And you met your husband there?

DH: In Lvov? No. I was married before the war. I believe, in Kiev,
before the war, and there I met my husband, and we got married,
and he was in the military. He was a teacher in an aviation school.
That's when the war started. I was pregnant nine months, and
almost before delivering, I started to run from Hitler. It was very
close to the border because Lvov is close to the Polish border. So
Hitler was very close to us, and we had to run. I was twelve days on
the road ...

2


DS: And had you given birth to your baby?

DH: Yes, I had given birth to my baby in the middle of the road; I
started to deliver the baby.

DS: Who was there to help you?

DH: We went in a train for cattle, not for people, and we were going
to Siberia; we had a place to go there--all aviation school--! was with
the aviation school because my husband worked there--they went to
:the front, to the battlefield, and all their families went to Siberia. But
I was in such a condition that I couldn't get there; so in the middle of
road--it was in the Urals--they threw me out of the train. The water
was already broken in the train. I went out, and I was there for six
weeks. I was almost dying. I had ... what's the name of this ... it's not
a disease: I caught a cold, and there was no sanitation, nothing. I
wasn't washed for twelve days, and I went to deliver the baby like
that. I was very sick; I thought [?] that I'll die and leave my little
boy in the middle of nowhere. Thank God, I was twenty years old, or
twenty-one, and it was easier.

DS: And you and that baby survived?

DH: Yes. That baby is your acquaintance now; you know the
children.

SR: Yes. Where did you live? Where did you stay? Who helped
you?

DH: We went to a small village, and they had some medical help, for
three people a place [one bed for three people?], but there were
women that delivered babies from this village, and also a lot of
people passing by--I wasn't the first or the last. So, we were all
together, and I survived. I had no money, nothing absolutely. These
people were so good to me. If not for them, I wouldn't have
survived.

SR: Did you know you were Jewish? Did that matter?

3


DH: Yes, they knew, but it didn't matter. In this part of Russia, they
didn't know the difference about Jewish and non-Jewish. The most
anti-Semitic parts of Russia are the Ukraine and Central Russia-Moscow,
Leningrad, the big cities--but I went to Siberia and they
didn't know what a Jew means. They were very good to me. Like I
said, if it wasn't for them, I wouldn't have survived.

SR: Had you taken some things of yours with you on the train?

DH: No, I didn't have anything. I just left in a sweater and a robe--it
was light--and three rubles in the pocket, and that was all my
possessions.

SR: And where was your husband?

DH: My husband went to the war.

SR: So he was fighting the war?

DH: He was fighting the war, yes.

SR: Did he survive the war?

DH: He survived, yes.
SR: I know you have another child.
DH: I had another child after the war. He (the husband) survived

the war, but he was wounded, and after the war, he was mostly in
the hospitals, and he died because of that.

DS: How did you get from where you were with this baby?

DH: It's a long story. First of all, when I came to the place already,
where I was supposed to be, I wrote a letter to my parents. My
parents were left; they didn't run from Hitler.

DS: Where were they?

4



DH: In the Ukraine, in Kiev, and they decided that even Hitler was

better than the Soviets. Absolutely, they were so old fashioned.

They survived World War I; they knew the Germans from the first

war--they were polite, they were very good, and they were better

than the, Soviets, much better, especially to our family. So they

didn't want to go anywhere .. They thought it's very easy, and it'll go

away. They were old. I was born when my mother was 46 years

old, so when the war started, she was 66.

DS: So, to her, she was old?

DH: Yes, to her, she was old, and they didn't want to go. So I wrote a
letter to them, but two sisters of mine went already and waited, and
they didn't take them, my parents. So she gave me the address of
my sisters. They ran half a way, not to Siberia, but closer. .. I forgot
the name of the city.

DS: So your parents gave you the address of your sisters?

DH: The parents gave me the address of my sisters, and they gave
my address to them. In the middle of the winter, the same winter
that I came, it was 1941, in November, my sisters came to me in
Siberia.

DS: Because?

DH: Because this town that they went to was already taken by Hitler.
And my two sisters came with their four children. We were three
adults and five children.

SR: Dora, what happened to your parents who stayed behind?
DH: My parents were killed.
SR: They were killed? Were they taken to a concentration camp?
DH:
than
My father was
my mother--he
taken to work for the Germans, and he was
was in his seventies--and nobody knows
older
where

he went, but my mother had a very interesting history after the war
started. She survived almost the whole war because she was a very

5


nice woman, and all the neighbors, the Ukrainian neighbors, liked
her, and she was hidden by a Ukrainian family, but one of the
Ukrainian polizais (policemen) knew where they were hiding and he
went to the Gestapo and told them and he asked them to come. She
was with another woman who had a child. I found out when I came
back; when I came back to the Ukraine, I went right to this town to
find out what happened with my parents. So the neighbors told me.
They went to the Gestapo, and a man came out to ask them
questions. And this, the other lady, she knew German, so she said to
him, "You're also a family man--I see you have a ring--you want to
see your family, let us live, and he left and brought them bread and
sugar, and said, "Go home and hide yourselves, and don't show up
any more." But six months before the war was ended, they got all of
them. They killed them, and I don't know where.

SR: Did you have a Jewish family?

DH: What do you mean?
SR: Did they celebrate things that were Jewish in Russia?
DH:
were
Yes. When I was in my housJewish; all the traditions, all
e, in my parents' house, we always
the celebrations, the holidays, we

celebrated because of my family, and even when they were gone, I

continued to have these traditions.

SR: Only in the home, Dora? Were there any synagogues?

DH: We didn't have any synagogues. We had in Lvov a wonderful

synagogue when I came back, in 1945, but later there was an article
in the newspaper that the Jews don't want the synagogue. They
don't like it. They don't need it. And it was signed by ten Jewish
members of the party, of the communist party, and that's all. They
closed it. It was painted so nicely, but it was small for this town,
even after the war, it was small for this town. We used to, on High
Holidays, we used to stand outside. Because it was an Orthodox
synagogue, in those day, and women used to stay upstairs. But I
remember, in our small town, where I grew up, I remember also the
synagogue. It was also two stories.

6


SR: Was there a rabbi who officiated?

DH: Oh yes. In Lvov also, there was a rabbi, and then they closed

the synagogue and they made a storage for grain.

DS: What did your father do?

DH: My father had a store. For the communists, it was the biggest
crime that he made in his life. That's why they insulted us, they did
whatever they wanted, because he had the store. They took it away
right away when the revolution came ...

SR: In 1917?

DH: In 1917. I was born in 1920; it was the worst time. It was a
civil war. And this was the worst crime, and that's why. we suffered
so much.

DS: His crime was having the store?

DH: Yes. So it was not enough to take away the store and to leave
him. They took our house--we had a house for eight children--so
they took the house, little by little the children went away because
nobody could get a job. They were grown up already; five children

were left. That was before the war, because two brothers were
killed in the war.

DS: What did your father do? They took the business, and then
what?

DH: Nothing, nothing. It was the period of NEP (New Economic
Policy); it you know the history of Russia, you have to know. It was
a period, not a big one, but for a few years, that you could have a
license and do something, but not to have somebody, a helper, from
outside, just the family. But the children went away. They were
alone. My father used to make... like 7 -Up... some kind of drink ...

SR: A Russian drink? Not kvas or anything like that?

7



DH: No, no. It was like ... 7-Up, like kvas. [Kvas can hardly be
compared to 7-Up. My guess would be it was seltzer.] Kvas, you
know this word? Do you like it? That was kvas, I wanted to explain.

XX: Explain it to Diane, she might not know about it. It's made with
bread, and it was a drink.
DH: Yes, it was a nice drink.
SR: It was healthier than 7 -Up. And he would have known how to
do it because he had a grain business prior to that?


DH: Yes, sure he knew. So they survived this time and then the war


started.
DS: So when was this? They survived the time between the
revolution and World War II?


DH: Yes, but it wasn't exactly prior to World War II, because it was
the period that they moved. They [Bolsheviks] took away the whole
house, and I was the last, I was the youngest; so I was the last who
left this town; I was 14 years old.

DS: And this town was?
DH: This was Bazilia. It was a small town near Kiev ..
DS: So they took away the store, and they took away the house, and


then he survived just on this drink that they made?
DH: Yes. Nobody of the children was left there, just my mother.
SR: Did your mother work too?
DH: Yes, with him.
SR: And did you work too?
DH: No, I was a child. I was 14 years old and they sent me out of


this small town because there was no way to survive there.

8



SR: Was it because you were Jewish?

DH: I can't tell. I cannot tell you because I was Jewish. It was the

family, not me, because we were Jewish, that's for sure, because in

the small town the Jews had the stores, they had this kind of life,

they were the best ...

DS: The best off, financially, so there may have been some

resentment?

DH: Yes, sure, they lived better. We had a small town, and it was a

Jewish town. Yes, it was a Jewish town. That's why the pressure

was, we were surrounded by small villages, but this town was a

Jewish town.

DS: Sounds like it must have been really hard to stay alive?

DH: Absolutely true. It was that period that in Russia they put in jail
all Jews to get gold out of them.

DS: Was this during Stalin's regime?

DH: Yes, just the beginning. It was when the collectives were started
in the villages, and they put my parents, both of them, in jail.

DS: Where were you?

DH: I was with them. I was 12 years old.

DS: You went to jail with them?

DH: No, I was with relatives somewhere. They were for 18 days in
jail, and their crime was that they didn't have gold. They needed
gold to build the country. And we had a joke in Russia then that
they asked the Jews, 'Why can't you give the gold ? You know we
need to build the country? We are very, very poor." And this guy
said, "My father used to say, 'If you don't have money, you don't
build."' But we sent a telegram to America--my brother was in
America already--we sent a telegram, and he sent $15, and then

9


they let them out. Is it not crazy? He didn't have gold, what can we
do?

SR: It's crazy... So you moved from this town, and then where did
you go?

DH: It's too long to describe my life. The first move was, I moved to
my brother who worked in a big plant in Kharkov. His wife was
pregnant, but it was not a successful pregnancy, so I went, 14 year
old, I went to babysit. And then, after that, I went to my sister's
place. Everybody was settled already--they were older than me.
Finally, a year later, I was supposed to go to study--it was before the
war, before I got married--! was 16 years old, and I was supposed to
go to study in Kiev, and a thief came in and took all my possessions.
All my things were in a small suitcase. I was prepared already, my
documents and everything, to go to Kiev and to apply to study. I
finished seven grades there. So he stole everything, and I was like a
newborn. I had to stay more there. I was 15 years old, and I lost a
whole year, while the documents came back and while I had
something to put on myself. It's very difficult to explain to people
who don't know.

DS: What did you do during that year when you were waiting?
Were you able to work?

DH: No, I was working you know how? I used to go to a place where
vegetables and fruit came in and I had to separate them and put
them in bags. They paid me daily, but I gave it to my sister, I lived
with my sister.

DS: Who was struggling, I suppose, also?
DH: Yes, so I gave it to my sister to be together, to struggle together.
DS: Were your relatives in America able to help at all?
DH: We couldn't. It was a time when Stalin came, we had to burn all

addresses. Sixty years, sixty-five years, I believe, we didn't hear
from each other. They knew that we were somewhere because when
the war ended, Debbie's mother found us through the Red Cross.

10


DS: In sixty years?

DH: No, it wasn't sixty years, but we didn't correspond then. She
sent a few packages with old clothes. It was then allowed to send
out old clothes.

DS: So how long had it been since you had any contact with them?

DH: Since 1965, '66?
DS: That was what, when you heard from her?
DH: Yes, in 1966, it was when Khruschev, it was a little bit easier. So

I wrote to the Red Cross and they found me in one week, they found
Sarah.

SR: What did you think when you got that?

DH: Don't ask. She found me, they sent a letter to her, and they sent
a letter to me. And in two weeks I had a letter from her, in Yiddish,
because I didn't know any other language. [End Tape 1 Side 1]

[Tape 1 Side 2]

DS: I was just interested, here you get this letter from your sister
and you have not heard from her in all these years?
DH: Absolutely, for all these years.
SR: When did she leave again? What year was it? You heard from


her in the 60's, but she had left in the 20's?


DH: She left in 1928, I know that. The oldest sister left in 1920,
when I was six months old.
DS: And you had not heard from her in all that time? Yes, you heard


from her in the early years.


1 1


DH: Earlier, yes, when I was a child, and then, when Stalin took over,
I'm telling you I burnt all the addresses. And I just remembered one
thing--Minneapolis--that's all, that I remembered by heart, and
that's why I found her. It was like telepathy, because at the same
time she applied to the Red Cross to find me, and in two weeks I
received a letter from her. Then--you don't know her--it was my
cousin's daughter from New York; she is a teacher, she is two years
younger than me, and she wanted to go to Russia. So she went with
the family. It was 1965, or 1966, I believe. She went with the
family on a tour, and Sarah, my sister, Debbie's mother, called me up
and gave me the address, and I met her there. I met her in Moscow.
She knew Yiddish, and her husband knew Yiddish, so we
communicated in Yiddish.

DS: Was it wonderful?

DH: You know what, she is such a type of person that in two hours
we were like we were born together. We knew everything about
each other. I was interested to know about what's America. She
knew when she came from here that she couldn't talk in the hotel.
So we went to a park, and I asked a lot of questions, and I had some
friends (in town) where I could sleep over, and the second day I
came and I said, "You know what, Debbie--she is also Debbie, we are
three Debbies, me also, I'm also Debbie--so I said, "I haven't slept
one bit this night, I wanted to find out where you put all the money
that you earn." And she was a teacher. She earned $800 a month,
and her husband had his own private bookkeeping business, $1200 a
month. Two thousand dollars a month, it was for me unbelievable.

DS: Millionaires! They must have been millionaires at least!

DH: So she left, explained a little bit to me, but I couldn't understand;
it was beyond understanding.

DS: I would like to know some more things about women in Russia.
Were there clubs and camps and things like that that women could
go to?

DH: When I was a little girl and it was just after the revolution, a lot
of activities were going on there. It was a lot of plans. The idea was

12


very fine. The idea was good but they couldn't fulfill it. It was
impossible to fulfill these ideas. They wanted, first of all, a lot of
Jewish people were involved. Because when there was a tsar, the
Jews had to settle ...

DS: Pale of Settlement.

DH: What's the name?

DS: Pale of Settlement: places they could live and not live.

DH: Yes, true, and the Jews were upset about it. After the
revolution, they were freed, and everybody thought in the [unclear]
will be on top of the world. But it didn't work out like that.
Unfortunately, as you see, it didn't work out. So, we had clubs, we
had in the early years, but after the war, World War II, changed a
lot. It was anti-Semitism; it was very high, after the war because of
Hitler's plans.

DS: After you were married, you continued to work and your
husband worked. What happened to the children. What did your
children do?

DH: We had kindergartens , and I put the children. As a matter of
fact, the other boy that was born after the war...

DS: Your California son ...

DH: Yes, my California son, I didn't want him to go to the
kindergarten--he was too small, so I went to work for them. I was a
bookkeeper...

DS: For the kindergarten? So you could be there too? That was a
good idea. Did your husband help with the kids in the house?

DH: Yes, but not too much because he was all the time in the
military.

DS: He wasn't home a lot?

13


DH: He wasn't home a lot. I raised the children.
DS: Was that typical of Soviet women?
DH: No, just for the families that had the military husbands; they


never sit home. But a lot of families with husbands in the military,
they used to go with them. I wasn't with this type of...

DS: So he would go out and you would stay ...
DH: He would go to another place for a month, a year or more, and I
was sitting and working and raising the children.


DS: Did you shop for food every day?
DH: Don't ask about food. And you know, it was bad, but as bad as
now nobody knows. I just received a letter from my sister and she
said that I can't explain it to you. She said, "Read our newspapers


and watch your television, and maybe you'll understand more than I
can explain to you."
DS: She is still in the Soviet Union?
DH: I have one sister left alive, and she is in the Soviet Union.
DS: Where is she?
DH: In Lvov.


DS: She is still there, with her family?
DH: Yes, she has one daughter and she was here two years ago.
DS: I don't remember her.

DH: I don't know if you remember everybody who was here.
SR: And the family did not try to get her out?
DH: She didn't want to. She has a mixed family.


14


SR: Her husband is not Jewish?

DH: Her husband is half-Jewish, and her father in law was very
sick, my sister's husband's, and they couldn't think about moving. He
just passed away a year ago, and now it's impossible.

DS: Why?

DH: My sister is old; she is older than me; she can't move; it's

impossible; it's absolutely impossible. And the family is bigger. She

has a married son--my niece--and it's impossible. They can't move.

She wants the son at least, but now the policy is that you can't

invite--(as a visitor you can, but not to live)-a nephew or a niece,
just a sister or brother.

DS: No, I didn't realize that. It has to be a closer relative?

DH: Just a mother, a father, a brother, yes.

DS: Did you stay on the line for all your food?

DH: Oh yes. [laughs]

DS: Tell us.

DH: You know, we didn't have time for anything, to entertain each
other. We used to go, sure, but when we were young, we found time,
but it was very difficult because you used to work the whole day,
and after work you used to go to all these stores--and in Russia you
don't have a store where you can get in and have everything. You
have a store of meat, just meat, and that's all--if it's there. My older
sister--she passed away already after I left--when I was here as a
guest. You know, I came first as a guest, and then I went back to
take my other son. So I told everybody how it is in America. The
stores, the grocery stores. She said, "I am not going." She was old
already, and she used to get up in the morning and to go to this store
and to sit--behind the window there is a place to sit down--and to sit
there from nine to twelve and wait, maybe something will come in.
Some days she succeeded and there was something, and other days

15



she went back, and that's all. But for three hours she communicated
with people.

DS: So it was a social event.

DH: It was social life.. So she said, "I am not going to America: they
don't have the windows." She wouldn't have the time to
communicate.

SR: There are positive sides of negative situations. [All laugh]

Where did you first see a store like ours?

DH: When I came as a guest. I don't know the relationship, but she
is not a cousin to me. She is a niece ...

DS: Who is she?

~u

DH: Debbie G1l:l.gey [?] that I told you.

DS: Oh yes, you said she was a niece.

DH: She is my cousin's daughter.

DS: Oh, she is your cousin's daughter--she is your great niece.

DH: So, when I came first, next day she took me shopping to buy

some clothes for me. So I went out and I opened my mouth and I

didn't shut it. The next day she said, "Tomorrow morning you are

going to the grocery store." I said, "You know, give me a
handkerchief. I'll tie up my chin so not it doesn't hang down."

DS: What city were you in?

DH: New York. She used to live in New York. She's moved now.
was there for a week, then I came here. The funniest thing--!
brought, you know what I brought here from Russia when I came to
visit? I brought a strudel--! just wanted to bring something from
Russia, and they don't let out these things. So when I came to the
customs, and I packed it in a box, and she said, "What is this one?"
And I said, "This is strudel." "You can't take it." I said, "I have to

16



because I have to show the Americans that we are not as bad as they
think. We have strudel," and gave her a piece to taste and said,
"Taste it." So she said, "OK, close it..."

SR: [laughs] She let you take it! Did she like it? Was it homemade?

DH: Yes, I made it.

DS: Did I tell you that Dora is a wonderful cook? Marvelous baker!

Dora could bake and you could die for it.

SR: Your piece of strudel was better than gold.

DH: So she said, "Close it and go, and don't tell anybody." So I came
to New York, and, sure, my great niece invited for the next day 35
people, and they ate up the strudel. And it was July 8, and July 18 is
my son's birthday, Aleksander's birthday. You know Aleksander
Kopilenko, who doesn't? You don't know my son.

DS: I'll introduce you to him.

DH: So, and he called me up. I said, "You know what? I brought a

strudel for your birthday, and they ate it." He said, "Oh, so what are

you going to do, where are you going to find nuts and raisins?" So I
panicked, and I said to Debbie, "What do I do?" She said, "Don't
worry, you'll find some raisins here." He joked with me. And I was

so afraid that it was so hard to find there.

DS: In Russia? And here, she went to the store and found it to make
more.

DH: Sure.

DS: Was it hard to be a parent in Russia?

DH: Yes, it was hard. I can tell you from my position, it was hard
because I was alone. Actually, I raised my children by myself.
That's why it was maybe harder than for somebody else. But it was
hard life, so it was hard everything.

17


DS: Do they date and things like they do here?

DH: You know, this part of life is also harder, much harder. First of

all, they don't have the places; we used to live with parents until

married, and when my son was married, then he went to her

parents. Two rooms they used to have and live in two rooms five

people, six people actually. So where can you date?

DS: Where do you meet people?

DH: Just outside.

DS: Where do they meet, in the park?

DH: They used to meet at work, a lot of people, and just in the park,
just in the street.

DS: Where did you meet your husband?

DH: In the small town where my parents lived before the war. I was
married right before the war. And they lived already not in the
small town that I told you. My two brothers brought them over
because they lost the house and everything. So they brought them
over near Kiev, and his parents also lived there. They liked me very
much, and they introduced me to him.

DS: His parents introduced you to him. They set it up for you?

DH: Not mine, his parents, both parents set it up. I didn't want to
marry.

DS: Why not?

DH: I don't know. I didn't know him too much, but I was twenty
years old; I was an old maid already. In Russia, as she said in the
letter, a 24-year-old man is an old man who should get married.
Why? [unclear]

SR: Did you date your husband before you married?

1 8


DH: Not too much.
SR: How long did you know each other before you got married?
DH: Maybe even not a year.
DS: So you weren't in love?
DH: No, I wasn't in love. We didn't see each other; we didn't have


where to date for a minute, just in the park to go sit on a bench, and


that's all.
DS: And when you got married, how did you get married? What was
the ceremony like?


DH: Don't ask. I still don't have a wedding ring. We got married in
my parents' small room. It was ten people or fifteen, I don't know,
and after the marriage he had already documents in the packet to go
away, but we didn't have where to live.

SR: Who actually married you?
DH: He was already in the army.
SR: No, no, who officiated?
DH: We had not a rabbi, just from the government, and I have a


certificate...
SR: So you had no Jewish wedding at all?
DH: No. A lot of people--maybe you don't know--Diane knows that


we had a wedding for thirty couples. My son was--look, this is the
picture.

SR: Yes, here in the synagogue. Felicia helped to make that.
DH: Yes. They had the Jewish wedding here. Nobody in Russia ever
had a wedding.


19


SR: So, did he leave right that same day?

DH: The same day, absolutely. (Machine turned off.)

SR: So then he lived with your parents or his parents?

DH: He lived alone. He lived with a roommate in Kiev, and I lived
with my sister, and the sister had one room, with a small child and a
husband and me. So who can get married in such a situation.

DS: So where did the two of you live when he came back two weeks

later?

DH: He didn't come back two weeks later. We went together, and it

was two weeks. We were together two weeks and didn't have a

place. So don't you worry! [All laugh] Until he received a place, and

they sent him to another place to work.

SR: Was it a good job to be in the military?

DH: It was paying more money, but it wasn't a good job. As a family
member, it's not good. They are gone, and the family is wandering
all the time.

SR: What influence did the communist party have in your life, for
your husband m. the "1" ?

m1 1tary ...

DH: In my life, it didn't have any influence because I wasn't in the
communist party but my husband was.

SR: He had to be, to be in the military?

DH: Absolutely. To be in the military, you had to be. My husband
was happy, and as a matter of fact, he was so stupid to believe in all
these things. A long time it took me to convince him that it's not the
right government and it's not the right place to stay, a long time
went to convince him.

SR: Do you think he was more indoctrinated because of the military?

20


DH: Yes.
DS: Did he eventually come to see it your way?
DH: Yes. But I don't know because you can't be stupid so long, and


you know why, you know what, I was divorced ...


SR: So it wasn't a marriage of love to begin with and he wasn't
around...
DH: He was not too much around.
DS: You had nothing to build on.
DH: And I raised the children by myself, so I divorced him in 1957.
SR: Was it hard? Was divorce allowed?
DH: It was allowed.
SR: It was acceptable?
DH: It was acceptable, and it wasn't too difficult to get a divorce, but


my son, especially Aleksander, he was worried that he (his father
would not give permission for him to apply to leave)wouldn't let him

out. He (the father) still believed in this communist ...
DS: Aleksander was worried that he couldn't get out of the country?
DH: Aleksander was worried that he wouldn't let him because he

had to sign the documents.
DS: His father wouldn't sign the documents.
SR: His father never left.
DS: But his father had to sign the papers for him ...
DH: ... otherwise they wouldn't let him out.


21


SR: But he did sign, without any objections?


DH: He signed, that's why it amazed me because I didn't contact him
then. By that time already I wasn't in contact with him.
SR: So he was a good man?
DH: He was not a bad man, not a bad man, but we were different.
SR: Were different, from the beginning it sounded like?
DH: From the beginning, unfortunately.
SR: Was he as bright as you?
DH: I am not bright if I married him.
DS: Well, you married him because there were reasons, and the time


was right...


SR: Yes, and he was a Jewish man and your parents knew and
approved..
DH: That's true ...
DS: What kind of things did you do socially in Russia?
DH: Oh, I did a lot. Can you imagine me not to be doing social


things?
DS: No, I really can't.
DH: Then don't ask, don't ask.
DS: Tell us what you did.
DH: When I was supposed to leave Russia, my older sister that


passed away already, set me down nearby and said, "You know what,
my dear sister, you go so far away, thousands and thousands of
miles, don't show who you are; when you go so far away, be quiet a

22


little bit. Don't do the same what you do here. I didn't show; I don't
know how people found out. [All laugh]

SR Do you think that personality changes from one country to
another?

DH: Yes, you go so far away.

DS: You came here thinking that you were going to be quiet. [All
laugh] What did you do socially in Russia?

DH: I did the same old thing. I was in the ... what's the name of it ...
[trade union] I was the second in charge. So don't worry, I did the
same thing. I organized people and the last year we built a resort.
[End Tape 1 Side 2]

[Tape 2 Side 1]

SR: Dora, we are going to go back over some of the events that we
talked about a couple of weeks ago, and some of the questions may
be a repetition, but we'll go into a little more detail. We are going to
go back and talk about your town that you were born in. Tell us a
little bit about the town, what it looked like, what your house looked
like, the size of it, who your neighbors were, and just recollection of
that town in your life.

DH: It was a very small town, a Jewish shtetl, surrounded with
villages with non-Jewish population. Our house was a big house, but
you know, like in small shtetls--you might not know--this was a big
house and we had a big family. It had ... let me count how many
rooms ... it was six rooms and a kitchen. We had a big dining room
because we had to put the whole family for dinner, for breakfast, a
big dinning room with a large table in the middle and two benches
on both sides. We had three entrances to the house: the front
entrance, the back, and the side entrance. Behind the house we had
a big storage where we had a cow and some chickens and geese, and
behind that we had a big backyard and our garden. And beside the
house we had a garden with fruit-trees. I was raised in a family that

23


does everything, knows how to do everything. I was the youngest in


the family.
SR: Were you better off than other people in town because you had
the big house.


DH: Yes, that's why we were worse off when the Bolsheviks came,
because we lived better in the shtetl and we had two big stores.

SR: Tell us about the stores.
DH: One store was in the middle of the town and the other one was
in the building that we lived.


SR: What did you have in these stores?
DH: It was miscellaneous.
SR: And who shopped in the store?
DH: Everybody who wanted to shop, the population of the shtetl and


the surrounding area.
SR: So Non-Jews as well as Jews came to your store?
DH: Yes.


SR: Were those stores yours, did your father own them?
DH: Yes, before the revolution.
SR: And it was a general store--everything was there, not just grain?
DH: Yes, everything.
SR: And that's the way your parents made a living, both your

mother and father? Did any of the children help in the store?
DH: I can't even tell because I was born after the revolution and
about the living before the revolution I know very little.

24


SR: But your family made a decent living before?

DH: Yes, our family with eight children to raise, but it wasn't too
good since I remember.
SR: What was the struggle?
DH: First of all, they took away the source of living ...

SR: After the revolution?

DH: After the revolution; it was 1920 when I was born and it was
already no stores, then they gave us a permission--! remember we
had one store left and it was in the building with the house, attached
to the house--but it wasn't for a long time. Then in Russia there was
a period called NEP [New Economic Policy]; it was a period you could
make a living by yourself, on your own, not hiring any other people,
and in that period my father used to make kvas, we talked about it...

SR: Yes. And that's how he managed, by making and selling that?
Did he again sell it to the nearby villages?

DH: Oh yes, once a week we had a flea market and they used to take
the product there.

SR: When you say your town was little, how little? How many
people lived there?

DH: I have no idea. When I lived there, I didn't count.

SR: Could you walk from one end to the other?

DH: Yes. You could walk from one end to the other; it was a walking
distance.

DS: And were there sidewalks or were there boards, do you
remember?

DH: It was a main street...

25


DS: It was just a main street? Your house was on the main street?

DH: Yes, it was a main street, and then we had some who were
poorer and lived in the side streets. We had a river.
DS: And what went on at the river?
DH: Nothing. It was a big river, it ran all over--Slutch was the name


of the river--and that's where my grandfather had.. I don't know
how to explain... they cleared the skins of the animals, leather they
made, that was when my grandfather was alive, but that was before
I was born.

SR: Do you remember when you were growing up in that town

experiencing any anti-Semitism?
DH: No, I don't remember too much. When I was growing up, I
experienced anti-communism, not anti-Semitism.


SR: So you never experienced it in your town?
DH: No, it was a small town, and we lived very friendly with the


neighbors, non-Jewish, but when I was born and I started to
understand, it was anti-communist, anti-Soviet.
DS: And your schooling, did you go to a local school, was it a

gymnasium, what kind of school was it?
DH: I went to a local school until seventh grade.
DS: What kind of school was it?
DH: It was a public school. I finished four grades in a Jewish school.
SR: Who ran the Jewish school?
DH: When the revolution started, after the revolution, they wanted


the J ewishness to make more official. So we had a school; it was one


26


room, and in this one room we had four grades: from the first to the
fourth.


SR: Was that after school or instead of school?
DH: It was school. This was schooling, four years, in the fourth grade
we had already our room for ourselves, and then that was the end of
the Jewish education.


DS: Who sponsored it? Who taught in the school?
DH: The government; everything was sponsored by the government.


·DS: The Jewish school too? But the teachers were Jewish?
DH: Sure. They taught us in Jewish (Yiddish).
DS: They taught you in Hebrew or Yiddish?
DH: Hebrew was cheder (religious school) but that was before the


revolution, and the revolution came, no religion, no believing in
anything, so it was an atheist country--they wanted to build an
atheist country--it was difficult because then we had temples all
over, small temples but we had it for the Jewish towns.

DS: So what was the language, Yiddish?

DH: Yiddish. Until the fourth grade, I didn't know another language
but Yiddish.
SR: Not even Russian?
DH: Not Russian--it was not Russia; it was Ukraine. And then we


went to the fifth grade straight to a Ukrainian school.
SR: What was that like? What kind of school?
DH: It was a bigger school and everybody had their own room and


the teachers, but we didn't know anything. It was terrible; the first
time they laughed at us...

27


SR: Because you couldn't even speak Ukrainian, you couldn't read,
you couldn't write ...

DH: We couldn't, but little by little, we started to know everything,
to learn, and I finished the seventh grade. My sister, she was five
years older, she was already an adult, and she couldn't go to school
because of our condition, so she had to go 15 miles to walk to school,
but later she went there and she lived there during the school
period.

DS: She walked 15 miles?!

DH: 15 miles to school; she couldn't have any education in our town,
not because her age, for her condition in society.

DS: What was her condition?

DH:
right
Because she was ... I can't explain to you ...
to vote--our family--because we were .. .
we didn't have the
DS: Because you had been shop owners?
DH: Yes, we were owners of something before.
DS: Not Jewish, but because you were part of the bourgeoisie?
DH: Yes, bourgeoisie, that's true.
DS: And going back to the religious life and growing up and how it

changed, when did the rabbi disappear from your town? I
remember last time you talked about having the rabbi and then after
the revolution ...

DH: Yes, we had a rabbi, we had a cantor, we had a nice a shul and a
kleizel... [?]

DS: What is kleizel?

28



DH: It's a smaller shul, it's like in our Temple of Aaron the morning

minyan.

DH: Yes, older people used to go to the smaller shul.
DS: But there were two different buildings?
DH: Different buildings, yes. It was very nicely built and very nicely

painted, the shul in our town. And of course, my parents, both of

them, it was very seldom that women knew how to read, daven, and

my mother used to pray and all the women who didn't have the

education, they used to sit nearby and pray with her, listen to her.

DS: And she taught your sisters? Did they learn?

DH: They learned in [unclear] when they were small; I didn't. So I
didn't know Hebrew at all. Just in the morning, we had a maid when
we could yet, we had a maid for the children because it was
impossible to manage with so many children; she was a Ukrainian
but she spoke Yiddish better than me, and every morning we used to
say Modeh Ani --you don't know what it is--it's a prayer in the
morning, after you wash your hands you have to pray this prayer.

DS: You never went to Cheder yourself?

DH: No.

DS: So when did the rabbi disappear and the two shuls? Was it right
after the revolution?

DH: No, when I went away, the shul still was there.

DS: And then what, how did they get rid of the rabbi?

DH: I don't know because I went away and I never came back.

DS: But when you were growing up as a small child, nobody ever
called you "dirty Jew" or you never heard any bad remarks?

29


DH: No, no, before I left, I didn't hear anything because after the
revolution the Jews actually were very active, they wanted to make
equal.

DS: And then it changes again during Stalin's era?
DH: Oh yes.
DS: What do you remember of that?
DH: I wasn't in the shtetl; I was already growing up near Kiev and in


Kiev, and I went to a night school...
DS: That was when you were doing bookkeeping?
DH: No, I finished high school.
DS: What kind of school was that?
DH: It was a regular public high school, but it was evening school for


working people. First of all, I finished a one-year school; it was for
working people to educate them for work, and my specialty was to
tune harmonicas ...

SR: We didn't hear about that last time. Tell us about that. How did
you come up with such a specialty?
DH: Because I have a very good ear.


SR: You have perfect pitch?
DH: Perfect, yes, and then they taught us all processes how to make
harmonicas, but because I had a wonderful ear, they put me in the
highest position, and I used to tune the harmonicas. You should see
the place. We were at a factory that made all these instruments, not
just harmonicas, but I was in the place where we made these
harmonicas, accordions, and I used to tune them, the last stage.

SR: You didn't tell us about that last time.

30


DS: That's a funny thing to do.

SR: Well, she had the gift and she used it.

DH: My brother didn't want me to be a worker; he wanted me to be
in the intelligentsia. He didn't want me to be a worker; so he took
me away from this factory ...

DS: Were you living with him at the time?

DH: Yes, I was living with the family in this town, in Kiev actually, it
was in Kiev, and he took me to a place where they taught me how to
do bookkeeping.

DS: Right, so we didn't hear that chapter before; and then you went
to the bookkeeping school that you said you had to pay for, it wasn't
free ...

DH: Yes, but I worked already as a bookkeeper helper, assistant
bookkeeper.

DS: And while you were going to school, were you also working or
then you just went to school?

DH: No, I went to school after the war, but when the war started,
when I got married, my husband took me away, as I told you last
time, and I didn't work, and then when I went to Siberia, I couldn't
live without working; then I went to work. My sister was
babysitting my boy, and I went to work. Nobody asked then for
education, just give a little bit whatever you know, you can help, so I
was actually self-educated during the war, and I was a good worker
already when I came back. Then I went to school to justify my
education.

DS: So you went to school after you came back from Siberia? We
didn't get that right.

DH: Yes, I went to school when I had two children already.

DS: And that was the bookkeeping school that you went to?'

3 1


DH: Yes.


DS: So when you were working, your sister took care of your one son
and that allowed you to go to work a full-time job?
DH: Full-time? Not a full-time, two-times.


DS: What were you doing?


DH: Bookkeeping.


DS: You were doing it without an education?


DH: I was doing it; I was an assistant, I wasn't the head, but I had a


high position already then, but without education.
DS: Once you got married, then you didn't work?
DH: No, I didn't want to ...
DS: Until you went to Siberia.
DH: Yes, but it was not too long. It was like nine months.
SR: And then your second son was born after the war?
DH: My second son was born after the war.
DS: Were you working after he was born as well?
DH: Oh yes, I was working until he was born and after he was born.
SR: And who took care of him or was he being care for by the state?
DH: It's difficult to explain, you wouldn't understand. I used to come


home to wash, because we didn't have the diapers, we had the cloth,


and I washed it during the evening--thankfully it was April and I

could do it the whole summer--and in the morning to put everything

32


together and with a vehicle [?], the small vehicle, and go with my son
to work.
SR: You brought your son to work? And he slept and you fed him?
DH: Oh yes, and he slept and I fed him, and I had my office ...


SR: What were you doing then?
DH: Bookkeeping.
SR: So you were your own daycare center?
DH: Yes. I was a bookkeeper in a big hotel.
SR: And they allowed you to bring a small baby?
DH: Otherwise, I couldn't work. It was a small baby, and 1 didn't

want to... We had kindergartens, but I didn't want to give him to
kindergarten.

SR: Was he a good baby? Did he cry a lot?

DH: It was whatever he wants, whatever a baby does, it wasn't
better or worse. I was always afraid, always, what if he starts to get
up. When he was born, I could just put him in one place and he was
sitting while I was working, but after that he started to get up, and
the people who worked for the hotel, the housekeepers, used to help
me out.

SR: Oh they did help you out? These were other women?

DH: The other women that worked there. It was a very terrible
period in 1946. We had hunger in the Ukraine, and a lot of people
went from the East Ukraine to west, to Lvov, and we gave them a
room with several, four or five, beds, and they used to live there, in
the hotel, and work. That was easier for them to pay for the utilities,
and they helped me out with the child.

DS: And your other son was in school by then?

33


DH: He was in the kindergarten.

DS: And he did fine?

DH: Yes, he was there, and I was going back and forth, and my

husband, as usual, was somewhere.
SR: How about your children, in their schooling, did they experience


anti-Semitism? Did the KGB intrude, did you have any experiences in
terms of their [unclear]?
DH: My children didn't look like Jews, and sometimes they had to go

in a fight ...

SR: They did have to go in a fight? What was the fight about?

DH: Somebody used to use the expressions against Jews, and they

didn't want to hear it. So they would fight.
SR: And they probably didn't tell you plenty of times too?


DH: Yes, plenty of times they used to come with a blue eye without


telling anybody.
SR: How did you instill Yiddishkeit in them?


DH: ·I don't know; it was in my blood.


SR: How did they learn, because it was harder then?


DH: Believe me, Aleksander was fasting since sixteen. He didn't


know anything about Judaism, but he fasted.


SR: On Yom Kippur?


DH: On Yom Kippur. I was raised in an Orthodox family; it wasn't


fanatic, but we were Jews and we were to the end Jews.


3·4



DS: In your house, were you able to do anything or did they just pick
it up by osmosis, by example ...

DH: I knew from my parents everything. It doesn't matter that I
was the youngest and I didn't see too much, but I knew from my
parents all these holiday..

SR: But you couldn't get matza, you couldn't get...

DH: We made collective matzas. We used to put several families
together and it was like a collective. Everybody brought his own
flour and if they wanted egg matzas, they brought the eggs. We had
one man who baked it, another man who made the dough, and all
these girls from these families used to made the matzas.

SR: Did you do that when you were a child or when you were an
adult?

DH: No, I used to do it when I was a child.

DS: How about when you were an adult?

DH: I used to do my own.
DS: Make your own for your sons?
DH:
have
Yes, make my own for my chila family yet. Before the war,
dren.
we had
When I
some,
was
we
in Kiev, I didn't
had somewhere

to buy matzas...

SR: Could you have gotten in trouble, Dora, for buying them at that
time?

DH: No, but after the war we didn't have in many towns. When I
was in Lvov already, an adult, I told you that the temple was closed.
We tried to buy somewhere. We had it in Moscow and in Kiev, in
Kiev, yes, the synagogue provided people with matzas.

DS: And where they got it you don't know?

35


DH: They baked. They had a perm1sswn to bake; they baked the
matzas and· they sold, but it was terrible.

DS: The taste?

DH: No, it was terrible to find it. It was so hard to find it, but some
years that I had to make my own, in my small, small stove. I didn't
provide the whole holiday. I couldn't. First of all, I worked, and I
couldn't be, on Passover especially. [End Tape 2 Side 1]

[Tape 2 Side 2]
SR: OK, Dora, a couple more questions about the period in the Soviet


Union. Your son married in Europe. Was she a Jewish girl that he
married?
DH: Yes.
DS: And did it matter if she was Jewish to you?
DH: For me, it mattered.
DS: And to him it mattered?
DH: Yes.
DS: Did you ever have any thoughts about going to Israel?
DH: No, I can tell you we didn't have anybody in Israel, and I was


afraid, you know, we were raised in a country that nobody moves in
his town, let alone the country. So we were afraid to move
anywhere. While it was possible to live there, we lived there.

DS: I am going to go back to the time when you were in Siberia. Do
you remember the town in Siberia? What was the name of the
town?

DH: I said so fast, yes, and I forgot. Kurgan.

36


DS: What's Ural?

DH: Ural is Ural Mountains, you know, that was the whole area.

DS: The town, say it again?

DH: Kurgan.

DS: Spell it.

DH: K-U-R-G-A-N

DS: What part of Siberia is that?

DH: It was the beginning of Siberia; the end of Ural and beginning of
Siberia.

DS: And again, life in that town, how difficult was it, who helped

you?

DH: It was very difficult, very difficult. There was a war, especially
in Russia; the second day after the war started we didn't have food.
We didn't have anything, especially in Siberia. It was an area that
everybody who lived in town before we came--we were evacuated
there--was a thief or somebody sent there from other areas, from
the Ukraine, from Central Russia. They used to be sent out in this
area because it was a very difficult life.

SR: Yes, it was a struggle; we know, they send you to Siberia, it's the
expression. So, how did you manage, who helped, was there a lot of
depending on one another, with women being helpful to one
another?

DH: I am telling you about my family. We lived eight persons in one
room, and it was a two-room apartment. The second room was the
people who lived before us. We came in and they had to give us one
room, and she lived--the owner of the apartment--with two boys in
the other room.

SR: And she needed the rent? You helped pay the rent?

37


DH: Yes, we paid the rent, half of it. We lived eight of us. My oldest
sister was paralyzed then, not completely, but she couldn't work. So
she was with our five children at home, and two of us went to work.
It was very difficult. It was hunger, it was whatever good we were
in a position, both of us--the other sister worked in a military office,
and they had some cafeteria, and she used to bring sometimes food.

SR: But you remember going hungry?
DH: Yes, a lot of times.
SR: You had a small baby then?
DH: I had a small baby, and I worked also in a big factory for the


war. They made some weapons. They gave us coupons for food, so I
could at least get some food for that. Otherwise, on the market the
prices were terribly high. The Russian people struggled since they
were named Russia, that's true.

SR: And the Jews who were in Russian struggled twice as much.
DH: Yes, because they were Jewish.
SR: Health care while you were in Siberia?
DH: It was very poor. My oldest son, the only son then, I don't know


if you know the sickness... diphtheria... it's in your throat ...
SR: It's strep or. ..
DS: I don't know much about it.
DH: Now I don't think we have it.
DS: No, there must be shots for it.
DH: Yes, but then, and in Russia you can't be with a child in a


hospital. I took him there and they wanted to leave a child 1 l/2
years old. So I came there with my sick child and they wanted to

38



take him away, and I didn't give him. I said, "Whatever you want, I
am taking him home." And at home we had four more children.
They couldn't allow to do it. So they left me there, and that was the
right thing to do. Otherwise, in the room it was below 0°, the
temperature, and I had to be with him to keep him warm. So I used
to hold him all the time, and my sister, my oldest sister who didn't
work, she used to bring a sled with some wood to heat up the room a
little bit. It was the poorest, it was primitive, and I don't know how
he survived.

DS: Were there doctors?

DH: Yes, it was a doctor, but what could the doctor do?

DS: Did they give him anything?

DH: They gave him, and no food, and on top of it, it was in my case,
while I was in the hospital, somebody came to my house and stole
the main food that I had to feed the child. It's a long story, but this
was the medical care.

DS: At that point. Do you remember in any period having more
decent health care?


DH: No, no, that was the health care there .

. DS: So you tried to stay out of the hospital?

DH: Yes, as much as you can.

SR: Changing the subject again, but you told us something about your
family, and the family always seemed to be there and to help each
other and to work together. How about some of your friendships
outside of the family?

DH: We didn't have too much time. We worked 18-20 hours a day,
as much as you could because a lot of people were in the war; all the
men were there and a lot of women. So we had to work, as usual in
the big factories were the women. There was no time for friendship.

39


DS: How about other times in your life, when you went back to

Lvov?

DH: To Lvov? Yes, we worked and we had friends at work. We used
to get together, we had friends, sure, it was easier after the war. It
wasn't easy, but it was much easier.

SR: Did. the women help each other?

DH: Oh yes, yes.

SR: How did they help besides listening to the troubles or? ..

DH: We used to do things for each other.

DS: What kind of things?

DH: To take care of the children, to get together and socialize. That

was a lot, during the war we didn't have much time; we went to

work in the morning and that's all.

DS: I'd like to know about the union too.

DS: OK, I will let you continue. That's where your interview left off.

DS: Last time we were here we started talking about a union, and we
didn't quite understand what that union was.

DH: It was a union like in America. It was unions for workers. It
was different just because none of the unions had any rights. They
had officially, but they didn't have any rights; they couldn't do
anything without communist party.

DS: So what was the point of having the unions?

DH: What was the point of having the Communist Party? That you
have to ask somebody else. I was against this from the very
beginning, but officially it was for the rights of the workers. And I
was the assistant of the head of the union. I couldn't be the head
because I wasn't a communist. I was in this factory where I worked

40


in Lvov. We did a lot of things. I didn't care because I wasn't a

communist. I could say what I wanted, not too much what I wanted.

Not to talk too much. Otherwise, we did a lot for the people.

DS: Like what?

DH: As I told you last time, we built a resort, and we could exchange

to go there. We had some document to be filled out to get there, so

we could exchange these papers and go to other resorts. So our

people had a lot of privileges.

DS: Did everybody in the union have privileges or just you people

that worked there?

DH: No, all the people who worked in the factory had to be a

member of the union. You don't have to be a member of the

Communist Party. A member of the union, first of all, you pay the

membership each month and that was the money that we used to

use for the people and to hire people to work. The head of the union

was paid. I wasn't. It was volunteer work. But we used to do a lot.

SR: What else did you organize?

DH: We used to organize to go some place, tourist places, and if you
needed some help, like material help, money, personal problems, sick
person, so we used to help out as much as we could.

DS: Sounds like Workmen Circle, it got translated to this country. Did
you retire in Russia?

DH: Yes. In Russian the women retired at 55. I retired a little bit
later because I had to go to America.

SR: What do you mean you had to go to America?

DH: My son was ready to go. The idea I don't know who started it,
but people started, after Stalin's period, after Khruschev came and
the other, they started to move a little bit, they started to go out, and
my children, the elder son, Alex, wanted very much to go out
because it was the end of his career. He was educated, and he

41


couldn't make a living there, a decent living, without being a

communist, and he didn't want to. So he said, "I'm going out. I don't

want to be here any more."

DS: Did he say, "Mother, come with me?"

DH: No, he didn't, but mother wouldn't live there without them. I

wouldn't go, no matter how the living was there. I lived all my life

and I didn't have another language, didn't know another language. I

wouldn't go, for me it was already the best to be in this place where
I was all my life. I had friends and everything, but I couldn't
imagine to live without the children.

DS: So he went...

DH: He went first, then I came for a visit, and then I came back to
Russia to take my other son. They didn't want to go all together. We
just talked a few days ago and he started to remember.

DS: He didn't want to come?

DH: He wanted; his wife didn't and her parents, and now they can't
imagine how they would live in Russia now.

DS: Do you know for all of us what you know is easier than the
unknown.

DH: Yes, that's true.

DS: Did you go to Rome first?

DH: Yes, I went to Vienna for three weeks. We went, it was exactly
the period of the High Holidays. I was in Vienna. That's why they
kept us a little longer, because other people used to be in Vienna just
for four-five days, and they used to send them on. But I was there
for three weeks, and then they sent me out to Rome, and there I was
three months, until they let me come here. The Jewish Family
Service didn't do a good job with me. They wanted my son already
to take me, to provide everything for me because he was already
here for two years. But he was the head of a family on his own and

42


he didn't have so much money yet. That's why the struggle went a
little bit longer, and I was in Rome a longer period. But when I came,
nobody paid attention.

DS: Nobody paid attention? ..

DH: Paid attention to me. I came and I was in my son's house until I
went for welfare. I was registered for welfare. And that was the
end of my, the Jewish Family Service didn't help too much in my
case.

DS: Were they doing more for other people at the time?

DH: Oh yes. Everybody came, as usual, they provided for them for
the first time the food and a place to live. I lived at my son's place.
For six months I lived there, and then I moved for three months, but
I already had Section 8, so it was easier to pay for welfare. But it
was enough.

SR: Did you expect them to do more?

DH: I didn't expect anything. Just other people used to have it, but it
was enough for me, I was satisfied.

DS: Who explained to you what help was available and how to do

things?

DH: A lot of people who were here. Other people who were here at

the same time.

DS: Not the agencies?

DH: No, to me, nobody explained because ... I don't know why. They
explained to my son, and that was the end. It was Mr. Hurwitz there,
and he was a tough guy. He needed a lot of money, sure. So, some of
the money Debbie paid for me, and ...

DS: What do you think agencies should do in order to be more
sensitive?

43


DH: I don't complain, I just compare with other people. I was alone,

and I didn't need too much help. My son could provide me with

food, but he couldn't hire an apartment for me. So I lived with them

for a while and then I went and hired one in Sibley Manor.

DS: What about your other son?

DH: My other son, when he came, he had the agency provide him all

the other people. His was a family of six.

DS: Did he bring his in-laws?

DH: Yes, the in-laws, they lived separately also, and they paid for
two months, maybe, I don't remember what the policy was then, and
then provided with food, with some money, and then they went to
welfare also.

DS: Do you think the role of the grandmother is different here than

in the Soviet Union?

DH: I can tell you, the role of the grandmother is the same; the role

of the parents is different.

SR: How is that?

DH: Because the parents in the Soviet Union were more mature.
They used to take in the children. When you get married, you can't
live separately. It was very difficult. In the main cases, the parents
used to take in the children to their apartment and to live as long as
needed and provide them as long as needed. Here, in America, you
can't provide children because you are not able unless you are a
millionaire.. Otherwise, the children have to make their own living.
But the grandparents are the same, the same role. They used to take
care of the children in the Soviet Union, of the grandchildren, and
here, especially here, when the grandparents come, they don't have
any education and the language, the barrier, so they live just to take
care of the grandchildren and to give more space to educate their
children. Again for the children.

DS: Do you think help was given to families in equal measure?

44


DH: I don't know; I am not close to all these cases. I think they are
equal now, then I didn't know also. I don't know; I think they are
very equal. People come, and people are different.

DS: One thing Shelley and I were talking about was a strong woman
you are. You've been such a wonderful role model to everyone. Why
do you think you are so strong?

DH: I was raised like that. I struggled very much in Russia. That
was my life. That's what made me strong. The survivors have to be
like that. During the war, a lot of p'eople passed away because they
were very weak.

DS: Survival of the strong.

DH: That's true. God gave me such a life and made me struggle
because of that. My mother told me a story about Jesus when he was
Jewish yet. Once he went in the field that people were cutting grain
and he saw one woman cutting the grain and he asked her, it was in
the afternoon and he was thirsty, he asked her to give him a little bit
water. She measured the water and said, "No, I don't have much
water left. The sun is very high, and I can't give you anything
because I have to work late. So he went away and in a little while he
found another woman who cut the grain. He asked the same
question, and she said to him, "Let me see." She put the water in the
glass and it was one glass of water. And she said, "You can have a
half and the second half leave for me because it's a long time for me
to be here and I need a drink." He drank the water, and then he
went away and said to his angel, "You know what, to the first one
you give a good life and the second that we just met you can give a
bad life." He (the angel) said, "It's not good (fair). The first one
didn't want to divide with you; she had a lot more water. And you
want her to have a good life. And the other one divided with you the
one glass of water and you give her a bad life." He (Jesus)said, "You
know what, because the first one wouldn't survive in a bad life; she
is so weak. The other one is strong enough to be without water and
to survive in a struggle." That's why I maybe, I'm the water to it
(the one with less water). [End Tape 2 Side 2]

45


[Tape 3 Side 1]

LS: We are talking about the Settlement House Cook Book here,
which Dora says was useful to her in learning American styles of
cooking because she has always been interested in cooking, and she
is reputed to be an excellent cook.

DS: She is a wonderful cook.

DS: These are the questions that skip around a little because they go
back to all the other things we had talked about. The first questions
that we had was about the shtetl that you lived in Bazelia. Was there
a market in this town?

DH: Yes.

DS: And where was the market?

DH: In the middle of the street.

DS: In the middle of the town?

DH: The town, the street, the main street. There was one main
street. In the middle of the street, once a week, on Mondays, the
market was open. There were products there from surrounding
areas: Milk and cheese and smetana, and meat, and a lot of other
things, such as grain, and that was the market.

DS: You told me that your house was on the main street of the town.
Where was the shul?

DH: The shul wasn't in the main street; it was farther from the main
street, but it was closer to the river. We had a river, a very nice one,
a big one, and the shul was closer to the river.

DS: Was there a [tannery or a mill on the river?

DH: No, we had a mill, not on the river. I don't remember where, I
just remember that my father was injured there. The stone that

46


used to grind the wheat fell apart, and a piece of this stone hit my
father. It hit him on the shoulder, and he fell to the door and was
very badly injured. He hardly survived this situation. I was young
then. I was maybe three years old, and that's what I remember.
They used to give camphor. They had some small bottles of liquid
that they used to give shots of camphor.

DS: Was there a mikva in the town?

DH: Oh yes. It was near the synagogue, it was closer to the river.

It's a necessity.

DS: When was the last time you went to a mikva?

DH: [laughs] Unfortunately, I didn't get married in a town like that,
and I didn't have the mikva. I didn't have the procedures, you
know.

DS: Was there a church in town?

DH: Oh yes. It was a church, and it was a Catholic church.

LS: You mean it wasn't Eastern Orthodox?

DH: It was an Orthodox Church in the Ukraine and Catholic.

LS: Both?

DH: Yes, different churches because we were close to the Polish
border and the language was different, there was a lot of Ukrainian
words closer to Polish.

DS: When you were going to school and learning to make
harmonicas, were your friends Jewish or non-Jewish?

DH: There was a lot of non-Jewish friends, more than Jewish. We
had a few people, in our group where I learned, it was a technical
school, I forgot the name, we had just three Jewish pupils there.

LS: Did you go out with those friends after work?

47


DH: One of them helped me to get in to this school because I didn't
have any documents then and I couldn't get anywhere because my
documents were lost, stolen, but I have to tell you frankly, I had
very few Jewish friends, more Russian, because the factory was more
Russian. There were Jewish people maybe in other departments, but
the harmonica was less, but we had a lot of Jewish friends.


DS: Did they know you were Jewish?


DH: Yes. They knew that I was Jewish, but the worst was, as I told


you. In those years, worse than being Jewish was to be from the


high position that my father had. That was worse even than to be


Jewish.


DS: Do you remember any Yiddish theater?


DH: Yes, I remember. As I told you, I finished four grades in Yiddish
school. It was such a school. In my room was four different grades.
We had a Jewish theater in that town. You know, in these small
towns we didn't have a theater by itself. We had volunteers. One
good actor used to come with some material and used to take all the
young people together from the town; all my brothers and sisters use
to be in plays. I was already, when I was older, when I went away
from there, when I used to be in Kiev, I used to be in plays. I was
active. First of all, I sang in a choir since I was young and in other
places. . When I was in school, we used to have our plays, but the
youth from the town, they used to go from one town to another and
prepare wonderful plays.


LS: Do you remember any of them?


DH: Fiddler on the Roof we used to have; and ... I can't remember the
name... [tries to remember, recalls some lines in Russian]
LS: Say it in Yiddish.


DH: I forgot a lot of Yiddish. Actually, Yiddish helped me learn a lot
of English because a lot of words are similar. But now I forgot. (She
sings) "Koif paparoshen."


48


LS: It's about a little boy who sells cigarettes outside and he freezes

to death ....

DS: OK, let's go to post-war now. I know that when you had your

second child, you worked actually in the daycare where your child

was. Was there a lot of daycare available for other people? Was it a

common thing to do?

DH: No, it was difficult to get in, but working women had to do it.

LS: What else could they do with their children?

DH: I was the lucky one, I went to work there and I saw my, it didn't
matter, he could fall and have an accident but the batteries
[radiators], I don't know if you remember ...

LS: If they were like the ones we have, slats.

DH: Yes, and this place it was, behind the closed door, and he opened
the door, and he had something he wanted to play with, he pulled it
and the radiator fell down. His one leg was broken and the bone was
out...

LS: I suppose you were very happy then you were there?

DH: Yes.

LS: What did other women do? If they couldn't find daycare and
had to work? Did they make arrangements with their friends or
with their grandmothers? What did they do?

DH: Nothing.

LS: Talking about the availability of daycare, I guess, in America
women always looked at the Soviet Union as sort of a model, feeling
that if they were going to provide work for women, they also
provided adequate daycare facilities, and that's why we've been
asking you about the daycare.

DH: It was provided, more or less. That was question number one.
Most of the women used to work in Russia, so without daycare it was

49


impossible to live. I didn't want, I could put my child to the daycare
without working there. I didn't want to, I wanted to be with him, to
see him, but they are neglected here and they are neglected there.
Of course, when you have a bunch of twenty children and one
woman to take care of them, it can't be perfect. So I wanted to be
there, but I wasn't a big help because it was the day, they had a nap
during the day, and nobody saw him, he went out and put this thing
on his leg.

LS: You mean you couldn't prevent it from happening?

DH: Sure.

LS: That's the way life is; you can't prevent everything from
happening. Where were you living then?

DH: Unfortunately, I lived across the street from this kindergarten in
Lvov.. After the war until I came here I lived permanently in Lvov.

LS: Did you live by yourself in that apartment?

DH: Yes.

LS: You didn't share it with anyone? Just you and your children?

DH: Just me and my children, and many, many more. I had one
room, no kitchen ...

LS: Where did you cook?

DH: I had a small hole and I put a small stove there, two burners,
and there I cooked.

LS: So you lived and slept in the same room?

DH: Yes. We ate there, we slept there, we did everything in the
same room.

LS: Was this an apartment that had been divided up? Was it
originally a large one?

50


DH: No, it was a Polish building. It was a one-bedroom apartment

also. This was named Kavalerka [bachelor's quarters] in Polish, for

one person, a man who does not need any other. We had a

bathroom, we had a bath, we had a sink to brush teeth, we had a

toilet in the same small room and that's all, he didn't need anything.

The room was enough for one person, it was then wonderful.

LS: And that's what you and your children had.

DH: Yes. I came with one child, and then I had another child after

the war, and we had, my sister came and I took them over to Lvov

because she lived in a small town in the Ukraine and it was no place

to live there. So I took her and she lived with me ...

LS: In the same Kavalerka?

DH: Yes, in the same Kavalerka. She lived with me a whole year
with a child, the same sister that lived during the war with me. We
were three sisters and we lived during the war. One of them had one
child, her husband was killed during the war, so she came to our
town and after a year of living with me, she had an opportunity to
receive the same size kavalerka nearby. So she lived there. Also for
sixteen years they lived in the same building. In the meanwhile I
took my husband's sister; she lived three years with me ...

LS: In the same room?

DH: The same room.

LS: Did she have children?

DH: No, she had a son. Her husband also was a pilot, but she had a
child, but the child was with her grandmother in another town. She
came and she went to work. She worked in this town, but she didn't
have anywhere to live.

LS: Where were your other tow sisters living? Were they in Lvov
also?

51


DH: One lived at my place, and then she moved out next door, and
the oldest with three children, they lived in a smaller town.

LS: Did you see her very much?

DH: I took her out also, but by then I worked in a hotel, and it wasn't
a hotel, we just rebuilt it for a hotel for the military because after the
war everybody went by this town. Lvov was a big town, and the
military went, the soldiers were in the war and then they had to get
home, Lvov was a place that they came to and stayed for a week or
two until they establish where to go (found permanent quarters).
Our hotel was a place for that ... And I was a bookkeeper for this hotel.
They had a big, like a storage area, and when we remodeled all these
rooms under the hotel, we made two small rooms and a kitchen in
this storage area for my sister, and I took her over, and she came to
work for this hotel, like a desk clerk.

DS: The you had both your sisters with you?
DH:
they
Then I had both my sisters with me, to the end. I went away,
were all dead.
LS: And you left. ..
DH: And I left...It's a tragedy. One of the sisters, the older sister was

gone, all of them, the youngest is just alive.

LS: Did you spend a lot of time when you were not working with
your family?
DH: Yes, I spent a lot of time with the family.
LS: Did you have other good friends that you spent time with?
DH: Yes.
LS: What did you do? Here, for example, we think about people


going sometimes meeting for a drink after work or going to the
theater or a football game ...

52


DH: Yes, we used to go to the theater, drink not too often, but we
used to go together, on all the Jewish holidays we used to get
together with Jewish friends also very often.

DS: How did you know when the Jewish holidays were?
DH: We had the shul, I told you, and we knew from each other. I


even don't know, we used to have the calendars, somebody sent us
from Israel, and we used to have.
LS: So how did you celebrate the holidays?
DH: We celebrated in the house.
LS: Did you have the Seder?
DH: Yes.
LS: Did you have Hagadas?
DH: No, I was the youngest in the family and I left this town when I


was fourteen, and half of this time I was already left without all
these traditions, they took away our house and everything.

DS: How would you most celebrate the holidays? Would you have
people for dinner?

DH: We had the family, mostly the family. Besides my sisters, then
they took over this town--it's a big town, Lvov--three cousins. They
just went to Israel now, I received a letter. Three cousins, and they
also worked there. And then the family started to grow: children
and grandchildren, so nobody has a big place to entertain, but the
family used to be together and always in my house, in the small one
room and no kitchen. You wouldn't believe how much entertainment
I used to do, how much I baked.

LS: Was religious expression allowed?

DH: It wasn't forbidden, but nobody liked it too ·much.

53


LS: So you kept quiet about what you were doing?

DH: No, it depends who was. I didn't. I didn't want to be quiet.

am not a communist. What would they do to me? So it's up to them,

whether they want (to fire me) because yesterday, I made a Seder.

Also I told everybody, when I used to workthat I used to fast, so

everybody knew that I fast. So all those (Jews) who worked they

tried to eat, I shouldn't see it.

LS: I was talking to Isya, and she said that she also fasted and she

would try to slip out of work to least go near the synagogue where

everybody would gather. Did you do the same thing?

DH: Yes, I used to go, sure, to the synagogue. We couldn't get in. It

was a wonderful synagogue, but a small one, and the people also

brought the families. So we used to stand in the middle of the

street...

LS: Right, she said the streets were crowded, even the police didn't
disturb them.

DH: The police... [End Tape 3 Side 1)

[Tape 3 Side 2]

DH: ... but look for the order.

LS: Look for what?

DH: Order,everything in order

LS: That was a way of voicing your protest, just to come out in the
street, to declare yourself as a Jew.

DH: I came once, and it was a time, if you remember, maybe you
remember, it was a time, not a long time but a short time that the
government of Russia gave out... that all the people who want to go to
Israel--to America nobody went then, just to Israel--had to pay for
their education. Have you hear about it?

54


DS: Yes, yes.

DH: It was for a few years, and America was against that, the whole
world was. It was terrible because what is the meaning for
education to pay. They took the money for education before you
were born, but meanwhile, at this time, when I was in Kiev, I took a
taxi, I was in my main office, I lived in Lvov, but I used to go to Kiev
very often on business trips. So, I wanted to be on time to come to
the shul and told the taksist [taxi driver] to come to the shul, and the
taksist said, "Why is it so crowded there? And why the police is over
here?'' I said, "What do you want? They make a lot of money
because they watched the heads of the payers. If you have to go
away and pay three thousand rubles for the education, so they have
to watch them so that they shouldn't be killed." (laughter)

LS: It's a source of revenue.

DS: It's a very interesting answer to the taxi driver's question. [All
laugh]

DH: I said, "What do you want, they are saving a lot of money!"

DS: What do you remember about the life of Jews during Stalin's
time?

DH: It's very difficult to keep track of all these things because it was
reduce more than produce, but since we are here, people who came
since last year, they never saw or heard of a depression like now.
There is nothing. A year ago they came, and they can't remember
that a year ago it was so bad like now. What is doing there I don't
know. The Stalin's times it was so closed, the curtain was so heavy
and closed, nobody knew anything. The people, the workers, the
average people didn't know anything. Everybody tried this without
Stalin, they do not exist, and who knows, the people who knew what
was going on, were killed, a lot of them, most of them. It was a
terrible time. When Khruschov came and told people a little bit more
about what happened ...

DS: But the anti-Semitism seems to have ...

55


DH: It was the end before he died. It was a period, a terrible period

of time when they wanted again and again to make the Jews guilty,

as usual, so they made, it was three doctors in Kremlin, and they

make a story that these three doctors wanted to kill Stalin. And you

should see what happened in the whole Russia.

LS: What happened?

DH: We couldn't go out in the street, just who looks like a Jew. It
was impossible to get out in the street. People used to be thrown out
of buses... It was terrible.

LS: That's when Jews went to shul.

DH: Yes, it was terrible.

DS: How long did that last?

DH: He lived yet. It was when he lived that somebody, I don't know
how it happened, somebody stopped that tradedy ... because it could
be pogroms. Whenever it starts something in the country, the Jews
used to be guilty, always.

LS: Especially in the Ukraine.

DH: Especially in the Ukraine.

DS: Did you listen to the Voice of America?

DH: Oh yes, oh yes. It was terrible, when Khruschov came, he
wanted to make everything easier for the people. So, he made it
more open. It wasn't as good as Gorbachov did it, but anyway, we
used to have a television and a radio, a big radio, but it was not off
terrible, but we listened all the time.

LS: They interfered with it.

DS: Yes, there was static.

DH: Yes.

56


DS: Was it hard to get divorced in Russia?

DH: No, we had to go through two procedures: the smaller one, like
accounting and then the bigger one, that's all.
DS: It wasn't hard? And other people did it too?
DH: Oh yes.
DS: Did your sons both attend the university?
DH: My sons, the other one attended just a technical school.
LS: Was it difficult for Jewish children to attend school?
DH: It was a lot of difficulty, and people who didn't have money to


pay. Isya's son went to Sverdlovsk or somewhere because you have
to have money for that.

LS: Was it money or the fact that they were Jewish?
DH: The fact that they were Jewish, but who had money could send
it [them] far away.


DS: We don't have to do it again, but we talked the other day about
the boys going to school and there being more anti-Semitism in the
schools and fighting and coming home ...

DH: This is my son, the first son that was born on a train... [shows
photographs]
DS: Is your other son coming to visit soon?
DH: He just went.
DS: Oh he was just here?
DH: California, It's far away; it's impossible to go there and back.


57


DS: The people that you are friends with here, were any of them
friends of yours in Russia?
DH: No.
LS: They are all new?
DH: Yes.


DS: How did you meet your friends here?
DH: I don't know. At the Jewish Community Center maybe... You
know me. How did I meet you?


DS: At the Jewish Community Center.
DH: That's where I met. ..
DS: Are friends different here than they were in Russia?
DH: No, I don't know. It's different because we are different. We


are older, and we have more time to communicate. When you work,
and after work you have to go all around town to look for a piece of
meat and to raise children, it's difficult to have close friends to get
together. It's very difficult. But here, since I came here, we didn't
work and more or less we have the money to exist.

DS: We talked about your friends being so good to you here, and of
course they are and, as I said, you also always have been a good
friend to your friends, but would your friends in Russia have also
done this for you?

DH: Yes. I would do it for them.

DS: You would do it for them and that's why they would do it for
you.
DH: That's for sure.


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DS: Here, in this country, did you go to the International Institute?
How did you learn English?
DH: I went for three weeks for the International Institute.


LS: That's all?
DH: That's all. And then I went for a hysterectomy, right away, and
that was the end of my education. And then I went to the Jewish
Community Center, and I am still mad at this organization.


LS: Why?
DH: Because they turned us out of there.
DS: You graduated.
DH: Yes, they gave us a piece of paper and said... Now they teach at


the Center for years, for years.
DS: Only people who don't speak English.
DH: And you know what, they wouldn't speak, and why spend so


much money and time? And we were left in the middle, we could
have learned a lot more. I still have the dictionary. This is not the
first one; this is the· third one.

LS: You've worn out two dictionaries.
DH: Yes, believe me. the other one I couldn't even ... turn the pages.
DS: Have you ever used the library here?
DH: I used to use when I was younger. A bus used to come to Sibley


Plaza.
LS: Right, the mobile library.
DH: Yes, the book mobile, but we have a big library here in our


building, downstairs, I have some ...


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LS: I see, you have a bookcase and it has English books on it. I was
very impressed.


DH: Why?
LS: Because, you know, I tried reading books in German and in
Hebrew, and it takes a long time. You get angry at yourself for
reading so slowly.


DH: Since I am here, I read just the Russian books I brought with
me. It was so little, but the English books I was reading all the time.
Not now, I don't know what happened with my eyes; it's not good; I
can't read any more.


LS: I see. But while you could, you forced yourself to read in English


until it became easier.
DH: A lot. I read all these books in English. And more that you see
because I gave a lot away. Every time I go downstairs, there is
thousands and thousands of books and you can take whatever you
want.


DS: What do you think of the synagogue here?
DH: The Temple of Aaron? I like the synagogue very much.
DS: Who took you there the first time?
DH: My son. Debbie took him there, and he took me.
DS: Debbie is her niece, Debbie Sherman.
LS: Oh Debbie is your niece.
DH: My sister came seventy years ago.
LS: That's right. I remember when they said you were coming, they


were so excited that family of theirs was coming. In fact, I even see
a resemblance between Debbie and you. Now that it's pointed out to

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me, I can see it; there is a very strong resemblance. That's

wonderful.

LS: Do you celebrate Jewish holidays here?

DH: Yes. We made as a tradition, the High Holidays, to spend the

second day with Debbie's family, and the first we spend with ours,

just our family.

DS: Was America what you thought it would be?

DH: I absolutely didn't think anything. I couldn't even imagine.

People are thinking of America that this is a land, a goldeneh

medinah (golden state) and when you come, it will fall right away,

(but) you learn.

DS: But you didn't think that?

DH: I didn't know what to think. I know my sister in the middle of

America raised a family and poor. She wasn't rich. So, I didn't know

what to think of America. When I came here, I saw that everybody

has to make his own life and has to do what's better for him, not to

wait that somebody will give you.

LS: Do you feel that a lot of Russian immigrants feel that and are still
waiting?

DH: Absolutely. A lot of the Russian immigrants think that America
must give something, they have to. And I don't think so. Everybody
comes here, and he has the right to do whatever he wants to. It's a
land of opportunity, that's true. Whoever comes here can have the
education, if he has brains, he can go to school and any business, if he
is not lazy. If he wants to do the job, sooner or later it comes to him.

DS: Do you think, though, it's because in Russia people were more or

less told what jobs to do, they didn't maybe have to make so many

decisions;

DH: Because in Russia we used to be told. I don't know. Nobody told
. them. I just don't know why people can't get in their mind that to

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come to another country and they'll open the golden gate, and it all

start falling on you, in your arms. It's impossible. Everybody who

comes has to build his own life and build from the beginning. That's

the worst thing: the language and everything, so it's very difficult.

DS: But it can be done?

DH: But it can be done if you want.

LS: Do you think that when you were working in Russia that there

are places to show initiative in Russia also?

DH: No, no. (laughs) That's the worst part of living in Russia.

LS: You really think so? It seems as though you showed some

initiative getting a job in the daycare center where your? ...

DH: No, I didn't need initiative then because from my qualifications,
when I was there, what I took, it was lower, much lower, so it was
very easy for me to take it. I took it because of my son. But you
know, the people in Russia, everybody works, more or less, but don't
have any initiative. They come to work; the work is dictated from
the top, and that's all. They don't think about anything. Here, when
you come, you want to be a mentsch; you have to take your initiative
in your own hands and try to do whatever you want.

DS: What do you miss most about Russia?

DH: I can't say I miss much. I sure miss the language because I am
so sorry for myself that I am sitting, an adult, educated person, and
can't express myself fully. It's very difficult for me, but you must
understand that this diploma that I received from JCC is not enough.

LS: Do you miss any cultural activities that were more readily
available in Russia, like opera and ballet?

DH: No, if you want, you have a lot of opportunity here to be
culturally active and everything, whatever you want.

LS: What do you like best about being here?

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DH: It's also difficult to answer because I came late. When I was in
Russia, nobody wanted to believe that I would start working and I
wouldn't go to work all of a sudden. But here I came, no language, no
opportunity to work, and sick. I was not from the beginning, but
very soon I got sick. So I had to give up a lot.

LS: Did you enjoy the choir?

DH: Oh yes. I don't know if you knew that I was the initiator.

LS: You were the initiator of the choir?

DS: I didn't know that. How did you come to the idea of having a
choir.

DH: I was the initiator of the Russian senior citizens [club]. I used to
help them to translate, we used to go for trips. There were a lot
more activities going on then than now. We used to go with buses to
other counties, to other places, and one time, on the way back from
such a trip, people were already old and they were tired, and I used
to sit in the front to see all the people, to translate, whatever had to
be done. So I stood up and we started to sing. And Joanie this
particular time was very impressed.

LS: This is J oanie Levey?

DH: Joanie Levey, yes, and came and she explained to the staff, and
she called me up and said, "Will you come over and we'll have a
meeting with the cultural . . . I took with me Isya, and we went there.
And I liked it so much from the very beginning.

LS: And Joanie said at that point, "We want to start a choir?"

DH: Yes, "Let's start a choir. We'll find a person who will direct this
choir, for you, just the seniors, because she heard a lot of people
singing. Let's start." OK, let's start. And I said to them, "What
uniform do you think we should wear?" We start to talk about
initiatives. You are crazy. Already you are in. Why? You don't know
who is going to sing at such an age?

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LS: Right. So you were talking about the uniforms and Isya was

worried about people showing up to sing.

DH: OK. So I came home and still have the list of the senior citizens
because whenever we have some activities, I have to call everybody
and to find out who wants to go and how and when. I opened the list
and I found from my understanding who is going to be available,
who could do it. I called them all up and a lot wanted to do it. So it
came together, and that was the beginning of this. Unfortunately, I
miss them very much.

DS: They miss you too.

DH: Everybody brings to me ...

LS: They wish you (good health). [End Tape 3 Side 2]

[Tape 4 Side 1]

DS: OK, Dora, what would you like to tell us today?

DH: In conclusion of my interview, I just want to mention two things.
First of all, about who you interviewed: a very old, sick lady who
came to America twelve years ago, but now, unfortunately, I can't do
anything more than lie down, and I want to mention friends who
make my life a lot easier. I met them here, in St. Paul, since I came,
Russian immigrants, and we became very close friends. We spent a
lot of good days and pleasure, but now, unfortunately, I can't
participate in all of these activities, but they didn't let me alone. I
want to mention their names: Nina Laikiv [?], she lives in the same
building ... [gets very emotional]. I can't even tell you how useful she
is now to me because a sister can't do what she does. Laikiv, Isya
Braginsky, and last one, six months ago, almost a year, a new family
came from Minsk, and they moved into this building, and she, Ida
Kaufmann, they also now make my life a much easier one than if I
didn't have them, not to mention the children. I have a son here, but
he is working and his wife is working, so they can't do as much as

64


these friends that are now both retired. But not everyone wants to
do this.

The second [thing] tha,t I want, I want to contribute some old
photographs to my interview. Because in a few years all these
stories will be history, and you'll have the photographs. I had a big
family. I was born, as I mentioned before, in a family of eight
children. Three of them went to America, and now I have
photographs from Russia, whom I left long time ago. Right now we
have two living from this family, me and my sister in Russia. with
her family, that's all. Thank you for your attention.

[End tape]

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