Sonya Krahmalnik

A person is alive, as long as the memory of him lives on!

11 March 22 February
1926 WeRemember 2011

The kindest, most beautiful, closest, dearest…

      This is a story about my dearest mommy. I want to save it for myself, and also for my descendants – if they would like to know about their roots and there will be no one to ask.

On March 11, the year 1926 in Ukraine, the family of brunch and Srulik Katz gave birth to twin girls. The eldest was named Ida (in current time, her ashes rest in the crematorium of the St. Petersburg cemetery, next to her mom. That was her wish, and we fulfilled it). The youngest of the twins, Sura, appeared to be a very weak child and, as it is customary in Jewish families, to trick the unkind destiny, she was given a secondary name, Sura-Rivka.

But the family called her Sonechka.                

Srul Shlemovich and Bronislava ruvimovna - my grandfather and grandmother were tailors. They weren’t simple tailors, rather as they would say now – elite. My grandfather sheathed the highest staff command of the soviet army and in the year 1938, he was transferred to Leningrad. The family settled in the center of the city, on the embankment of the Fontanka river, house number 50. My grandmother Bronya got a job in an atelier's studio on Nevsky's prospect, known in the city as «Death to Husbands! » the family was, by all measures, prosperous: good housing, respectable earnings, gained respect from their surroundings, future plannings… alas. Sonya was fifteen when the war began.

There is no need to tell nobody what the siege of Leningrad was. My grandmother was lucky, while during     


the winter, she and her children were taken out of the city that was besieged by the Nazis along with the «The road of Life», that was laid along the lake Ladoga.

Her husband was bound to military service, so he stayed in the city and died from hunger in 1942. I had never seen my grandfather. My grandmother Bronya my mother and Ida were evacuated to Kazakhstan, to the city of Almaty.

There are many stories, in which it is being described, how cordially the evacuees were being accepted in the rearward, and how did they try to shelter and warm the people, whom the war kicked out of their vernacular homes.

Unfortunately, it wasn't like that for everybody, there were different outcomes. Grandmother was treated frankly in an unfriendly manner, there was no sympathy, no understanding. In the beginning, we had to live in a dugout, because nobody wanted to welcome «evacuated Jewish girls» in their homes, they had no food, even the most necessary stuff. But, as time went by, life got fixed. A housing solution was found and the girls went to school. After finishing school, mom graduated college with a degree in accounting and economics and began working. Still, Almaty did not become their hometown.

After the war was over, an opportunity to return to Leningrad appeared. To be able to do so, my mom had to join the «Vulkan» rubber products factory – because there was no other way. For some time, she had to fag away as a general worker, but then, till the pension, mom was already working in her area of expertise. Fortunately, the house survived, so they could move back to their apartment. Truthfully, there weren’t many things left in the house, most of the property was taken by the neighbors. They had to collect their possessions. But the most important is that they were in their hometown, in their darling home! A new chapter of peaceful life has begun. Then, naturally, came love. Everything had happened like in a sentimental novel. Ida had known someone, who had a friend, Israel Mironovich Krakhmalnik. After the war, he left all by himself. His relatives – mother, father, and a brother lived in Ukraine, in the city of Dzerzhinsk, in the Zaporizhzhia oblast and they were shot dead by the Germans. Still a young, educated, intelligent, single man… his friend suggested that he shall meet with a «good Jewish girl from a decent family». The meeting was organized «accidentally» – they waited for Ida in the street, while knowing, when she's usually passing by. But exactly on that day, precisely at that time, namely in that street, Sonya was passing by instead of Ida.

In May 1951 mom and dad married. Mom was 25 years old, and dad was 32. This was not a love from first sight, not a youthful romantic gust, this was destiny. Two adults, who have survived a lot took a rational decision to create a family, based on love, tenderness, and mutual respect, rather than on literary passions. On April 9, 1952, I was born, Marina Israilovna Krakhmalnik. A loved daughter and loved grandchild, I grew up as a joyful child. It was my mother who taught me, what a real family should be like. Yes, despite that mom was working her whole life, was proficient in her field, and was respected in the collective, the most important thing for her was family.

May this sound old-fashioned to the masses, but mom adhered to the rules of «home culture». The house was neat, everything had its place – mom was an extraordinary missis! She loved guests, loved the hospitality, and, although the times were not particularly nourishing, put «her heart and soul into cooking»! loved family lunches – even though the dishes were unpretentiously simple, the table was surely covered with a tablecloth, the dishes were carefully placed on the tablecloth and the whole family sat around the table! Family intercourse was always important – all the issues were discussed together and decisions were also made together. For me, for the daughter, mom was always the prime example and the main advisor. Her food recipes serve me to this day. What to wear, how to arrange, how to behave – mom, thanks to her impeccable taste, could always give a hint, to teach, to explain… and not only to me, my friends were constantly crowded in our house and everyone was also fed and consoled. 

Dad passed away in April 1980. This interesting, amazing person lived too little – the war left a mark on him. There was only one notion in his workbook – he volunteered to go to the front while working in the factory, was wounded twice, reached Berlin, and after the victory, he returned to the same factory. He was the head of the gild, an innovator, inventor. They say about such people – smart hands efficient head! And most important, he was a reliable, loving husband and delicate father. And so he left the world, and Sonya was left a widow at fifty-four years old.  

In the year 1990, we decided to migrate to Israel. Mom supported us. Thanks to her noble help, we were able to quickly get up on our feet on the new land. We settled down peacefully, worked, and learned the language – mom took complete control and carrying of the kids and the house. Moreover, she also managed to indulge us with her cuisine delights. Her assistance was priceless. Mom was treating my husband, her son-in-law, respectfully. The old-fashioned upbringing reflected: «the man in the house receives the best chunk». She was in love with the grandchildren. While they were serving in the army, if mom was cooking something extra delicious, she always tried to hide a piece, so the boys could try some too. And how happy was mom, when grand-grandchildren appeared!

Beautiful, humble, respected, and loved by all, she never had any enemies. However, she easily made new friends! When mom was in her «golden years» she had the opportunity to sit in the evenings on the bench with the neighbors, and a lot of new friends appeared. When mom got sick and hospitalized, the visitors were flooding in. At that, I didn’t even know many of the women that paid a visit to Sonya. During her youth, my mom had no opportunity to spend time reading books, yet she loved books very much and read a lot of them during her pension with pleasure. Alas, time spares no one. Alzheimer's is a terrible, merciless illness. It is very difficult to see how the mind of a loved one fades away, without the ability to help… on February 22, 2011, in the eighty-fifth year of her life, mom left us for a better world. She was optimistic, knew how to rejoice in life and make others happy, grateful, and noblewoman… my dearest, kind, loving mother, I will never forget you. You were the best mom and grandmother. You are my guardian angel, rest in peace.

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Bright memories

Burial location

Israel, Ashkelon, Southern Cemetery
Section: 7
Sector: א (Alef)
Row: 30
Grave: 19

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