A Genealogical Study


Goldberg (En)






Goldberg (Fr)








Chaim Kowalski

Israel, c.1928





Dear brother Moishki and your dear son (he shall live),


I am able to write to you that my family is well. About my health, there is nothing new to write; I feel a little better, but far from well. I have already been at home for the last four weeks, after having been in hospital for one and a half years. I can walk around slowly-slowly in the house and outside a small distance. I cannot go far and work is not even considered. I plan to look for another livelihood; hopefully it will occur and we will be able to survive. But one has to put in some money, which I do not have, and we have to make it somehow. I can write to you that our Aunt Chayale1 is alright. She is a small woman, but with a lot of courage and energy. She has a grocery store and makes a good living. Last week, she visited me and brought me £500 2 to get me organised. She already has two grandchildren married to frume men. By the time you get this letter, you will have seen Sara Sheine3. She visited me in hospital and already a few times at home. She will tell you how I look. I walk with a stick and a "cane glider", which is a kind of stick with four legs; how long this will take, nobody can say in advance. I am sending with Sara Sheine a small souvenir for your son.


I received a letter from you and, not long later, a scrip4 for $10, for which I thank you many times. Forgive me if I do not write often. True, I have enough time to write, but sometime I am not physically able to write. Now I have written enough about me, I finish my letter with greetings and best wishes from me,


Chaim Kowalski


Give to the heartiest greetings to your son, may he be healthy. Give friendly greetings to Pesen/Fesen5 and family, Etriah5, David5, Sara Sheine and children, the best health to everyone. My wife and son wish you all the best health.



This is a woman known as "Moome Chayale Shulzinger", who faciliated the emigration of many Radzilow families to Israel during the British mandate period. It has not yet been possible to connect her genealogically to this family.

2 During the mandate period (1917-47), the currency of British Palestine (now Israel) was known as Lira in Hebrew & Pounds in English. It is not known why Chaim refers to the sum in pounds and not shekalim, as this letter was written approximately 15 years after the establishment of the State of Israel.


This is thought to be Sora Fejga Kowalska (née Zylbersztejn), who married Rochel Leja's son, and the author's cousin, another Chaim Kowalski. Descendants of Rochel Leja Kowalska refer to Sora Fejga as "Sara Shana".


This may have been some form of cheque or postal order.


These appear to be references to the author's cousins Atara Soffer and Pauline Rogoff and Atara's husband Dave, all of whom were living in the US at the time of writing.


This sad letter was written by Chaim following an accident he had had at work. He was a builder and fell from the third floor of an unfinished building he was working on. He survived but with terrible injuries and lived the rest of his life in a wheelchair.


Not unsurprisingly, his tone in the letter is very depressed. He speaks highly of their aunt, with a touch of envy about her courage and energy, and laments his own financial plight. He mentions his son at the end of the letter, referring to his younger son, David. His elder son, Israel Kowalski, was killed in action in the Israeli War of Independence, trying to bring food into besieged Jerusalem.


Despite his thoroughly dejected mood though, Chaim still wishes everyone the best of health; his wishes may be all the more sincere since the deterioration of his own.


Letter donated by Robin Kavall. This translation is a combination of translations by Esriel Sternbuch and Tamara Selden, edited by Saul Marks.


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