OF THE POSTCARDS
OF THE POSTCARDS
Some important translator notes:
1) All postcards were sent from Ukraine, not Lithuania. As far as I understand from the letters, they had moved just before this correspondence began. Zelig does mention family in Lithuania.
2) Although Zelig's Russian is really remarkable for a shtetl person, it is quite difficult to understand him: he has many syntax problems, hardly any punctuation marks or capital letters and he has many spelling mistakes. Sometimes I have highlighted what I'm not sure about. In my translation I have ignored the spelling mistakes but tried to convey the text as close to the original as possible so you could see the real thing - you will notice messed up sentences, lack of punctuation marks and capital letters. However, if you wish me to ignore it all and write in good English, just tell me and I will correct it.
3) Another important issue is the repeated abbreviation "sr." when he speaks of money transfers. I have no idea what it is - could this be currency? It does not seem like rubles / rand. He speaks of amounts such as 8 and 5. I'm not sure this could be rubles: although 5 rubles could be a month income, it stills seems too insignificant an amount to send from the other side of the world. Do you have any idea what this could be?
4) About the names. Some of the names you have provided appear in the text so I could use them, but there were cases that I could not spell that way because it is spelled differently. There were also other names, and I am not sure I read them all right. The ones I'm not sure about are highlighted.
Dear children! We are all in good health, thank God, and mother is good health thank God too. We have not received a letter from you for a long time, we are extremely worried, and we have not received the telegraph money transfer of 20 sr I do not know where to search, write which address you sent them to, from Choneh mere and Sulamith we do receive letters as well as from monas that they are in good health, thank God. Golde unfortunately suffers from an illness. Leyser and the children are in good health thank God. Write about yourselves and the children health, I wish you health and happy Passover. Mother and Chiene send you their greetings from the bottom of their heart. Awaiting your reply, your Zelig.
Belopolye, 17 December 1915
Dear children! We are all in good health thank God and mother is good health thank God too. It is astonishing that we do not receive letters from you, that we received S21 r from you via V. Wyssotsky, Moscow. I wrote to you. Golde Leyzer and the children are in good health, thank God. She lives in the city of Kursk 6 hours of travel neither we nor them have income. Write to us about yourselves and about the children are you in good health my address is the city of Belopolye, Charkov Guberniya, Kladbishenskaya St., House #10, Potetni. I am waiting for your letter
Belopolye, 25 September 1916
Dar children! We are all in good health, thank God, and mother is good health, thank God, too. Yesterday we received your letter of 17 August and (deleted) 10 F. We are very happy to hear you are all in good health and are greatly thankful for your amiability here everything is as it used to be no story, last week I wrote to you that we had received 5 sr write to us about the children’s health and your health and how your trade goes. Choneh mere, Sulamith and Chiene with her husband send their greetings. Your father Zelig.
Belopolye, 16 June 1916
Dear children! We are all in good health, thank God, and mother is good health thank God too.
Today I have received via Wyssotsky Moscow a draft of 5 sr which you sent on 1 May this year. I am very grateful to you for your amiability. Here everything is as it used to be. About the 30 sr. which you sent us to Dvinsk a very long time ago and then you directed to send them to Wyssotsky Moscow so there is no news it is probable that Wyssotsky has not received them yet. Choneh mere, Sulamith and Chiene with her husband send their greetings and wish you health and all the best. Waiting for your answer. Your father Zelig.
Belopolye, 17 November 1917
Dear children! We are all in good health, thank God and mother is good health thank God too. We have already written to you that we received from you via Wyssotsky Moscow S21 r. and during all this time we have only received one postcard from you and this is why we ask you to write to us more often. Golde Leyzer and the children are in good health thank God they live in the city of Kursk, 5 hours of travel from us by train neither us nor they have any income send a bow to Mr. Senderovich, to Beile Sofere and brother Hirsh send them our address it would be very interesting to receive a letter from them how is their health Choneh Mere and daughter Shulamith, Mones Chiene all bow to you and wish you all the best our addresses are the city of Belopolye Charkov Guberniya Kladbishenskiy lane house Potetnya #10. Awaiting your answer your father Z. Goldberg
Belopolye, 4 May 1916
Dear children We are all in good health thank God and mother is good health thank God too. Your letter and draft of 8 sr via V. Wyssotsky Moscow we received and we thank you for this, after this there was none Choneh wrote to you that we received all the money sent to us except the money sent to Dvinsk addressed to Ryazanskiy we have not received it is remarkable that you do not receive our letter we (illegible) send you a letter, I am asking you to write to us about the health of you and the children, Choneh, mere Sulamith Chiene with her husband wish you all the best I am waiting for your answer
Belopolye, 1 March 1916
Dear children! We are all in good health thank God and mother is good health thank God too. Amiable Rhodeh your postcard letter of 20/1 we received the other day I also wrote to you that after 8 sr we received 5 sr I thank you very much that you help us in your critical situation we have no income here now we prepare for Passover we will order and all the other edibles it is possible to come by but they are of course expensive write to us about your and the children health also from Beile and Senderovich how are they Choneh mere and their daughter Mones Chiene sends a bow to all of you and wishes you all the best write to us father Goldberg
Belopolye, 20 September 1917
Dear children! We are all in good health thank God and mother is good health thank God too. It is incredible and we are extremely worried to not have received a letter from you for 6 months already only 6 weeks ago we received one letter from you that you are apprehensive about sending us money for it is delayed, from Hirsh Segel we received a letter in July with 5 sr. Choneh got a job in the Novgorod guberniya he is leaving in several days. Mere with the daughter will travel to him by train (illegible) for 2 days, Golde is getting better thank God. Leyser and the children are in good health thank God write to us about your and the children health hearty greetings to you and the children mere, Chiene with her husband wishing you health and all the best awaiting your answer your father Zelig
Belopolye, 14 March 1916
Dear children! We are all in good health thank God and Mother is in good health thank God too. Your postcard letter of 3/11 we received yesterday thank God you are all in good health, regarding your question how much money we had received I inform you that except for the money received via moscow we received 3 times i.e. 8,, 5 and 10 sr. we are very thankful to you that you help us in our distress. We are now preparing for Passover everything can be found (deleted) that you ask us to write you more when times are better we will write to you we write to you not received yet wishing you good health greetings to the children Isaac and Mr. Senderovich waiting for your answer father Goldberg
Belopolye, 26 January 1915
We are all in good health thank God and thank God it is quiet here mother is good health thank God too, also in Zeimelis the children are all in good health. Your letter of December we have received, thank God you are in good health. Unfortunately I have lost my job due to the closure of the brewing factory and I still have no other job. Send a bow to your children. Father Goldberg.
Belopolye, 21 October 1915
Dear children. We are all
in good health,
thank God and also mother is in good health thank God too. We have
written a lot to you that we moved here and have not received anything
just the letter of a long time ago to Dvinsk, we have not received any
Dvinsk at the wrong address which we have already written to you the
have been sent back to you we are asking you to write to us and send us
to the address the city of Belopolye, Charkov Guberniya, House Potetnya
Kladbishenskiy lane #10 to Zelig Goldberg write back to us about your
children health, Chone, Mere, Shulanith and Mones, Chiene bow to you
and to the
children and wish you all the best. Waiting for you answer Father Z.
 Translator’s note: Zelig later calls it a lane (hence the conjugation difference). The name itself means “of the cemetery”, which probably means the cemetery was at the end of that lane.
 Translator’s note: at the time many private apartment houses had names.
 Translator’s note: I wished to convey the old expression as is, since it is a very important sign of the epoch. It simply means “send my greetings to…” or “remember me to”.
SOME NOTES ON POSTCARDS SENT BY ZELIG GOLDBERG
FROM UKRAINE TO HIS SON IN LAW ISAAC SHAPIRO IN SOUTH AFRICA
Zelig Goldberg was born in Siaulai (Shavel) Lithuania in about the mid 1800’s. He married Sarah. Lithuania was part of the Russian empire and in 1915 most of the family moved to the Ukraine but returned to Lithuania in 1922. They had four children.
Rhoda (Roddeh), born 1874 in Siaulai, married Isaac Shapiro. They immigrated to South Africa about 1900. They had five children and their descendants live today in Israel and USA.
Choneh (Elhanan), born 1876 in Siaulai, married Miriam (Mere) Lazarowitz. They had two children only one of whom Sarah, born in Siaulai in 1923, survived the Holocaust2. Her descendants live in Israel.
Golda Goldberg, married Leizer, and Chienna Goldberg married Moness Pelz. Neither they nor their offspring survived the Holocaust.
The postcards were sent from 1916 to 1917, during the period that Zelig Goldberg and family lived in the Ukraine. The postcards are testimony to the poverty endured by the Jews during this time. Many Jewish families left Europe for America, South America and South Africa. Isaac Shapiro with his wife Roddeh Goldberg and 2 children immigrated to South Africa and lived in the diamond mining town of Kimberley. Isaac was a clerk in a store and with five children struggled financially. Only one of his daughters could afford to finish high school. Nevertheless, as we see from the postcards, they were able to send small amounts of money to the family in Europe.
During this time the Jewish owned tea company Wissotsky was the largest tea company in the world. It was known also for its philanthropic contributions to the then Zionist movement and Jewish causes. The postcards mention that the money received by Zelig Goldberg was through Wissotsky. Apparently Wissotsky served as a conduit to transfer the money: Isaac Shapiro gave money to Wissotsky representatives in South Africa and Wissotsky Russia paid Zelig the equivalent amount.
In 1917 following the Bolshevik Revolution the Wissotsky organization was nationalized. The last postcard received in September 2017 mentions that Isaac wrote to Zelig that he was apprehensive about sending money.
Note 1: Family tree attached (Click for Zelig Goldberg descendants)
Note 2: Sarah Goldberg and her sister Shulamit were in Stutthof concentration camp. The camp was liberated by the Russians and the inmates moved by cattle trucks to Moscow. Shulamit died soon after. Sarah returned to Lithuania and from there she fled illegally to Poland with a Zionist group and then to Munich. She sailed on the ill-fated Altalena (where she met her future husband, Isaac Olkienitski, to Israel. Her descendants live in Israel. Sarah died in Tel Aviv in 2022 aged 99.
Note 3: After Isaac Shapiro’s death the family moved to Johannesburg, and Isaac’s daughter Dora kept the eleven postcards. She later gave the postcards to Sarah (Goldberg) Olkienitski who passed them on to Isaac’s grandson Eitan (Anthony) Levy.
Zelig Goldberg’s surviving great grandchildren Eitan, Shuli (Olkienitski) Haberman and Racheli (Olkienitski) Gilad donated four of the postcards to the Wissotsky archives.
Letter from the
Curator of the Wissotsky Historic Archives
Letter from the
Curator of the Wissotsky Historic Archives