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Alexander Rosenblum

Alexander Rosenblum

Alexander Rosenblum

Alexander Rosenblum

Efim Levertov


At the beginning of the XX century in the city of Vilnius, Jerusalem of Lithuania, there lived a glove maker, Berl Rudeman. He had a wife Miriam, nee Miriam Pevzner, and six children: four girls and two boys. My story is about his elder Hannah and younger Khaya.

Hannah was born in 1909, and Khaya thirteen years later, in 1922. Berl, his wife and children, when they growing up, worked a lot. Berl was convinced that every article made in his atelier was to be flawless. That’s why, if a woman was seen in perfect-fit gloves, it was said “By Berl Ruderman”.

The end of the 1920s saw the world economic crisis which couldn’t but hit the Rudermans’ business. They had to sell it in Vilnius, and in 1931 move to Lodz in Poland, the European capital of glove makers. There, Berl resumed his business, but on a lesser scale because of the great competition.

The family legend says about Wolf Messing’s coming to their shop. He wanted to try on some gloves. When Hannah was helping him, he turned attention to her hand and asked for permission to have a look at her palm. Having looked at it thoroughly, Messing told the young girl: “You will live a long life, but you will live far away from here and you won’t die here too”. These words Hannah remembered forever.

Meanwhile, life in Europe required more and more leather not for elegant gloves, but for jackboots. The war was getting at Poland, like a predator at its prey. Berl Ruderman fell seriously ill and soon died. The legend and story of his visit to a doctor say that Berl asked the doctor: “Doctor! How can you know what’s going on in my stomach?” The experienced doctor replied: “Let’s assume that we are both in different, but adjacent rooms. Can I still guess what you are doing in your room?”

Hitler and Stalin divided Poland; a huge number of Jewish refugees flooded into the Soviet. Miriam Ruderman with children came to Stolbtsy city near Minsk. Hilter attacked the Soviet Union, and his army was approaching Minsk fast. Every Jewish family had a question of where to escape. Miriam Ruderman literally elbowed out Hannah from their house, made her run with Gorelik family. Hannah went by train to the east of the country.

She came to the city of Kurgan, the south-west of the Siberia. There the glove maker Hannah turned up at the right moment for sewing and mending uniform jackets. She became a foremost worker; nobody could catch up with her. For her daily twelve-hour work Hannah was given a liter of milk and loaf of rye bread, which saved her life and health for the post-war marriage and birth of her daughter.

Khaya escaped too. She got married, had a daughter, evacuated, and worked in a hospital. He job was to accompany the wounded who had got some treatment to their native places for their full recovery or decommissioning as unfit for service. Her hospital was in Udmurtia, in the city of Sarapul. Once she took a wounded soldier to his relatives in Kurgan and arranged her documents for the return to Sarapun. At the railway station she lay down on the bench to have a nap. There was an officer at the railway station who also wanted to have a rest and, seeing a sleeping solder on the bench, decided to drive him away to have a sleeping place for himself. The officer slightly shook the sleeping solder by the shoulder. When a garrison cap fell off the solder’s head, the officer saw a young girl. He felt uneasy, put the garrison cap on the girl’s head and went away.

When after the war Hannah and Khaya meet, Hannah asked: “Why didn’t you read the list of the evacuated to the city at the railway station?” “I didn’t”, regretted the younger sister.

After the war Hannah came back to Belarus with Gorelik family. She was called Anna Borisovna at that time. We’ll keep naming her that way further. They stayed in Borisov where many Jews had lived before the war. It was here that Anna Borisovna got married, gave birth to her daughter, who was named after her late grandmother, Miriam. In Russian they called her Mira.

Anna Borisovna’s husband, Mikhail Lvovich, had a brother and a sister in Leningrad. He took his wife and daughter to visit the relatives and spend his first post-war vacations together. Once Leonid, Khaya’s husband, was in Nevsky Avenue and saw a woman resembling his wife. She was walking with a man in a military uniform. At that time many demobbed wore such kind of uniform, but with no shoulder loops. Leonid told Khaya about that woman. “Why didn’t you ask her if she was from Poland?”

Anna Borisovna and her family continued to live in Borisov, close to Gorelik family. The senior Gorelik was a seamstress and had a wide social circle. Once a client came to the Goreliks and told that she was born in Lida, the city she and her family had left at the outbreak of the war in almost the last train. Gorelik told how they had fled from Stolbtsy, near Minsk. “You are from Stolbtsy?” the guest asked. “I remember when on the train a young girl tried to jump from the train at full speed. She was shouting that all her relatives had remained in Stolbtsy. We were fighting to stop her”.

“Was her name Khaya?” Gorelik asked hopefully.

“Yes, Khaya,” the guest exclaimed.

“And where’s she now?”

“In Leningrad. I know her mother-in-law well. ”

That was how many years after separation the sisters Anna and Khaya met.

Anna’s daughter Mira grew up, studied at an institute in Leningrad. She got married and gave birth to three daughters. Anna Borisovna sometimes visited her daughter in Leningrad. When Mikhail Lvovich passed away, her visits became longer and more frequent. In 1991, she died in Leningrad, aged 82. Wolf Messing’s prediction came true. She was buried next to her husband in Borisov.

Khaya Borisovna died on 4 August, 2010. She was 87.

Jewish settlements in Minsk region

MinskBerezinoBobrBorisov DolginovoDukoraDzerzhinsk Ivenets Myadel NesvizhObchuga Pogost Rakov Seliba Slutsk Svir Uhvaly Vileika

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