As I have written about in the past, my grandmother, Helen Rosenman Lesses, preserved letters that were sent to my grandfather, Mark Falcon Lesses, during the 1930s and into 1940, from his relatives in Europe. The letters from two people were in English - Sima Shlosberg and Mordechai Falkon (my grandfather's uncle). The letters from his aunt, Gita Falkon Kagan, were in Russian. Two of the letters had English translations with them, but two did not.
I brought the letters with me to Israel and I have met several times with a cousin-by-marriage (Sima Shlosberg is a common cousin for us) who made aliyah to Israel from Russia about thirty years ago. She was eager to see the letters, especially those from Sima, and she was so kind as to offer to translate the two Russian letters into English for me. She did this before Pesach and I'm only now managing to type them up. The first one is in this posting and the second one will be in the next one.
A letter from my great-great-aunt Gita Kagan to her nephew, my grandfather, Mark Falcon Lesses
Moscow, 23/IX 36 (September 23, 1936)
My dear nephew - greetings to you and your wife and your glorious little son!
Thank you very much for the letter I received recently. In that letter you wrote me only a couple of words - why I did not answer your previous letter - but for these few words I am very grateful to you, because these few lines have shown me that in your heart you truly have sincere friendly affection for me and want to keep our relationship. I am happy to answer you, and, like all of us, my husband and my kids, we always would like to get from you only the best and joyful news about you and your lovely family. On your very first letter I responded, so we certainly have received it. I am very sorry that I did not respond to your second letter immediately. We left Moscow for the dacha for almost four months. Our dacha is 19 kilometers from Moscow; it is linked to Moscow by electric trains. Living outside Moscow and poor health knocked me out of a rut very much, and I have in my mind the need to answer your letter quite a long time (ago) still faced with the fact of my debt to you.
I promise to be more accurate in future and write you regularly upon receipt of your letters.
In last months my brother and your uncle Falcon from Libau strongly requested the possibility of my husband's and my entry to Libau for two months visit. He sent us a visa already and my husband and I, we'll maybe go to Libau. I have not seen your uncle from Libau since World War I, since the year 1915. Now he is very old and weak. Recently, my husband's sister wrote us that he is seriously ill. Your uncle in his letters writes nothing about himself and recently he writes to us very rarely (not more than once a month) and very very tersely. You can realize of course, my dear Mark, that we are not young anymore, and all sorts of diseases, short letters, or not receiving them in time causes morbid anxiety in the heart.
My own health is poor, I already wrote you about it. My husband also does not feel well. But you're a doctor yourself so you probably say to your patients: what is aging - it is getting decrepit and you cannot put a new heart in the body.
You wrote us that one of your hospital nurses would visit Moscow in the summer. But nobody visited us. Maybe she did not come at all.
My children have no special news. They are all as usual.
I still have a great desire to see you, my dear nephew, personally. I would like to look at you, to hug and to kiss you.
I am looking at my grandchildren, they are cousins to each other and they are really close to each other. Though they are still small, but they instinctively feel their proximity and show it. You, my dear nephew, are in the same relationship to my children, but unfortunately you are separated by the ocean and by many years of living in different hemispheres. I would like to wish that no ocean or hemisphere or even different languages would be a barrier for contact with you.
The way from America to Moscow was recently laid by our pilot Levandovsky. I would like this way to connect our two hemispheres as quickly as possible, so I could see all of you.
Once again I send my very best wishes to you, your wife and son. Also, I send my sincere greetings to your mother, father, and brother. I welcome Gertrude with her family. Why does she never write anything?
Aunt Gita Kagan
My husband, our children and grandchildren send you their greetings and kisses. Our photos I'll send somehow. I still hold onto the photographs because I hope to look better but to tell you honestly my hopes have not come true yet.