Friday, November 30, 2007

October's Best Babushka

Malka Zalmanovna, 84

Malka was born in Berezino, a town approximately 70 kilometers from Minsk. When the Second World War started, she was evacuated to the Urals with her mother while her father served in the Soviet army. Her father, Zalman, was never heard from again. She and her mother survived the war years, but due to severe malnourishment, Malka suffered from many illnesses throughout her young life and was diagnosed with osteoporosis when she was in her 40s. Malka and her mother returned to Berezino, but they found that Malka would acquire a better education in nearby Borisov.

Between sicknesses and studies, Malka had little free time, but she always made sure to sing and cook with her mother. “We were very close. Like sisters or best friends. I wanted to remember how she did everything, from her gefilte fish recipe to her bedtime lullabies,” Malka said while showing off her golden smile. (Literally, her when she grins, she shows off a mouthful of aurous gold-capped teeth.) “That’s why when I joined the Hesed club in Borisov, I realized that I knew more Jewish songs than anyone, because I had paid such close attention to my mother.”

Malka is now a star soloist in the Borisov Hesed choir. When she sings the songs she remembers from long ago, her small shaky frame suddenly stands tall to accommodate her powerful voice.

Malka has 2 children and 4 grandchildren. None of them live in Belarus.


Eli said...

I love it! The gold-capped teeth brightened my day.

Aliyah said...

Eritchka, you're so right! This was one babushka I'll never forget!