Interviewed by Israel Rubin through an interpreter
May 29, 1999
Ida: Yes, she lives alone.
Q: OK. May I ask her how old she is?
Q: Oh, you're young! Can you tell us your parents' names?
Ida: She says that both her parents are dead about 30 years ago and she ask do you need anyway their names?
Q: OK. Why don't we do this. OK, we're starting again. Today is the 29th of May 1999 and we're interviewing Ida Adashkis and we started out by asking her - she's living alone, she said she is - and then we asked her her parents name.
Ida: Benjamin Roxan and Sophia Roxan
Q: Were you married?
Q: This is your married name that you gave us?
Q: And you have children?
Q: How many children?
Ida: One daughter.
Q: Where does she live?
Q: Is she married?
Q: How old is she?
Ida: She's 41.
Q: And she came at the same time you came?
Ida: No, she is here about nine years already.
Q: And she has children?
Ida: Yes, two children.
Q: Her husband? His name is...
Q: And his last name?
Q: Where were you born? Which city in the former Soviet Union?
Ida: She was born in Ukraine, Kharkov area, city Izume.
Q: Which part of Soviet Union is that?
Ida: It's Ukraine.
Q: Near Kharkov?
Q: That's the big city it's near. OK. And your parents, they lived there too?
Ida: No. Her parents lived in Belorussia, it's another republic of former Soviet Union.
Q: I see. OK.
Ida: And after the second World War they moved to Ukraine.
Q: How old were you when you got married?
Q: What did your husband do?
Ida: He worked in the newspaper, he dealed with photos.
Ida: Yes, photography.
Q: And did you work?
Q: In Russia?
Ida: Yes, in Russia. She worked as a manager at the supermarket.
Q: You went to high school in Russia.
Ida: Yes, she finished high school and the university in Russia.
Q: Which university?
Ida: In St. Petersburg.
Q: Were your parents in any way religious in a Jewish way?
Q: They celebrated no holidays?
Ida: Her parents celebrated some holidays but they were not very religious.
Q: Which holidays did they celebrate, do you know?
Ida: Passover, Rosh Hashannah, Hanukkah
Q: So you celebrated, they celebrated
Ida: Yes. Big holidays.
Q: Did they go to services? Was there a synagogue where you lived?
Ida: At later time her parents lived in one of the Baltic Republics, in Latvia and they had synagogues there and they went to synagogue, big holidays.
Q: You have sisters and brothers?
Q: Are they in the United States?
Ida: Her brother lives in New York and her sister is going to come to Seattle with her family.
Q: Why to Seattle?
Ida: Because her grandchild is studying in Seattle.
Q: Grandchild is studying in Seattle and the parents are still in Russia? Is that what she saying?
Ida: Yes, they are still in Russia and that is why they are moving to the United States because he finished university at New York and now he is continuing, he is studying at Seattle.
Q: And he's studying...?
Ida: As a dentist.
Q: What was it that came about that you decided to come to the America? What were the circumstances?
Ida: Basically she has two reasons to come to the United States. The main reason she has a daughter here, in the United States. And the second reason she had big problems with her eyes and doctors in the Soviet Union said that they couldn't help her. Here it's more possible to help her with her eyes.
Q: Did they help you?
Ida: She came to the United States and a week later she had serious surgery, so she did not have documents but it was a serious situation and she had the surgery a week later. Because in the Soviet Union doctors couldn't help her with her ey es. When she was in the Soviet Union during one year she might say that her right eye did not see anymore and when she came to the United States and after surgery doctor says that in two week later she could lose her second eye. When she lived in the Sovi et Union with her husband it was alright but her daughter moved to the United States and a year later her husband died and she began to feel something like vilence because she was asked: What you do here? Get out of here.
Q: By whom?
Ida: Just phone calls.
Q: What city was this in?
Ida: It was Kaleningrad. It's near Baltic Sea.
Q: What year was it you came here finally?
Ida: Her husband lived in Kaleningrad and when she got married she moved to Kaleningrad and she lived about 38 years in this city.
Q: So when she came to the United States she came from that city?
Ida: Yes, exactly.
Q: And what year was that?
Q: Is she working here now at all, any kind of work?
Ida: No, she got SSI, as a handicapped person due to serious problems with eyes.
Q: So she couldn't work.
Q: Did she have a problem getting to the United States, in other words, getting the papers approved as a refugee and so on? In what status did she come, did she come because her daughter's here, or as a refugee, or both?
Ida: Her daughter sent an invitation and she's got an official status of refugee.
Q: Is her daughter married to someone who's Jewish?
Q: Does her daughter and son-in-law have any connection with the Jewish community?
Ida: She send in donations to Jewish community. Donations.
Ida: To Jewish community.
Q: I didn't mean donations. Does she celebrate any of the Jewish holidays? Does she go to the synagogue here? That's really the question.
Ida: Yes. All big holidays they celebrate all big holidays.
Q: So she celebrates here?
Ida: Usually she celebrates all holidays at her daughter's.
Q: So which holidays are those?
Ida: Usually all the holidays.
Q: So you have a lot of family back in the Soviet Union, former Soviet Union?
Ida: She has only sister in the former Soviet Union but she's coming to the United States.
Q: You don't have uncles or aunts, or cousins?
Q: So they already came here?
Ida: She doesn't have a lot of relatives and all her relatives are here in the United States.
Q: Do you want to ask her where, which cities?
Ida: Her brother lives in New York, her niece lives in Los Angeles.
Q: How long was it between the time you applied to come here and you actually came? Was it a long wait?
Ida: It took about two years. After her daughter had sent an invitation to her, she came to the United States in four years.
Q: Four years it took?
Ida: Yes, four years. Because her husband was very ill. He had cancer and she could not go.
Q: How old is her grandchild here? She has one grandchild?
Ida: 18 and 15, two grandchildren.
Q: Were they Bar Mitzvahed?
Ida: Yes, in Israel.
Q: Oh, they went to Israel first?
Ida: They went specially to Israel to do it.
Q: Her daughter came directly to the United or she went to Israel first?
Q: Yes what?
Ida: Directly to the United States.
Q: So I don't understand how the grandchild went to Israel for a Bar Mitzvah?
Ida: They had grandparents in Israel and other relatives in Israel. The relatives in Israel, they helped to do it so it was cheaper.
Q: So where did the children study to be Bar Mitzvahed?
Ida: In Israel.The parents of my daughter's husband, they live in Israel and they proposed them to go to Israel for Bar Mitzvah.
Q: OK. So, will you ask her if she feels connected in any way to the Jewish community here, or if the Jewish community can do outreach toward her? There are things that they should do or could do that they're not doing now? In what way they can be more helpful?
Ida: She does not deal a lot with Jewish community so, she says that it's alright and if she needs something she asks her daughter and her daughter helps her. She says she does not connect a lot with Jewish community.
Q: If she had transportation would she go to the synagogue here?
Ida: Her daughter picks her up so she provides transportation, her daughter, to synagogue.
Q: Does she know the name of the synagogue?
Ida: It's located on Fifth Street and people call it Fifth Synagogue, I don't know why. It's on Fifth Street.
Q: She doesn't know the name of the synagogue?
Ida: Yes, she doesn't know the exact name of the synagogue.
Q: But Fifth Street.
Q: Anything you want to ask me?
Ida: No, thank you.
Q: Before your husband died, what did he work at?
Ida: He continued working at the newspaper.
Q: That was his whole career?
Ida: Yes, yes.
Q: Could you ask her the kind of anti-Semitism she experienced in the former Soviet Union?
Ida: Do you mean special?
Q: I mean, what kind of anti-Semitism, when she went to school, when she was growing up.
Ida: Basically she doesn't feel that it was anti-Semitism. She began feeling something like anti-Semitism in the late years before departure to the United States when her daughter moved to the United States, when her husband died. Maybe some body wanted to get her flat, maybe.
Q: Was her passport stamped as being Jewish?
Ida: Yes. She says that maybe she did not look like a Jewish and maybe that is why she did not feel anti-Semitism, maybe. As you know she lived in Kaleningrad and it's the city of sailor, the city of navy, and among the sailors they had a lo t of Jewish people, so that is why there wasn't anti-Semitism. So usually it was quiet, it was OK.
Q: Did they have synagogues in Kaleningrad?
Ida: During the second World War all synagogues were destroyed and after it they didn't rebuild synagogues so they did not...
Q: They were destroyed by the Germans?
Ida: Yes, exactly. And they did not have synagogues. In last years they had a special Jewish house but it wasn't synagogue.
Q: Does she know who established the Jewish house? Was it from the United States or Israel or simply from within the community?
Ida: It was established by the man who lived in Kaleningrad and he was born in Kaleningrad so he did it by himself and we can assume that they had some donations from Israel, maybe from States, but this house was established by Kaleningrad p eople. And even from Finland some people sent things to help poor people to help this Jewish house.
Q: Was the Jewish house used more for cultural things or religious things, I mean, for Jewish music...?
Ida: It was a big center of Jewish culture and they had very good choir. But they celebrated big Jewish holidays. But it was a cultural center.
Q: Well, they didn't have a rabbi, did they?
Ida: No, no. Maybe now they have rabbi...
Q: Does she speak Yiddish?
Ida: She understands when somebody speak in Yiddish but she almost doesn't speak Yiddish.
Q: Did your parents know Yiddish well?
Ida: Yes, well. They knew Yiddish well. When their parents wanted to speak about something they didn't want children know it, they spoke Yiddish. Her husband spoke Yiddish just perfect and he know all the Jewish holidays very well. When the second World War began her husband even didn't speak Russian, he spoke Yiddish and one of the Baltic languages. But then he found himself at special house for children without parents because he lost everybody and he began speak Russian and after the war he spoke Russian very good. Her husband had a very religious family.
Q: He came from a very religious family?
Ida: Yes, exactly. And his sister lives in Israel now. All his relatives are living in Israel now. She says that his relatives live in Israel about more than 20 years already.
Q: Does she plan to visit them in Israel?
Ida: Yes. She is going to visit them but at first she must obtain citizenship.
Ida: Yes, and after this is going to visit family.
Q: Could you ask her what it means to be Jewish to herself in terms of herself?
Ida: She says that when she left the Soviet Union she was about 58 and when she live in the Soviet Union everybody said that we didn't have God, you know, atheism. So people couldn't be religious. And when she came here sometimes she begin g oing to synagogue. She says that she knows holidays, she celebrates holidays and already her grandchild knows all the holidays. She says that here they have completely different situation from the Soviet Union. In Soviet Union it was almost impossible to celebrate some holidays even to speak about religions. And even they had very big difficulties to eat, some Jewish food matzoh, you know. She says in the Soviet Union it was all very difficult. Now it's becoming better, she says, in the Republic, the form er Soviet Union, but earlier it was impossible.