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    Family Biographies

    Lessem Clan

     Father was originally wealthy in Russia - factory flux - when
    warned that government would take over - family decided that children
    must leave. Joe's story - was introduced to Ray in Muizenberg
    Jack Lessem came in 1928/50. Family had relatives - Sher - in
    Livingstone. In Lithuania conditions were hard. Livingston needed
    more people. Jack was 16 at the time. Came alone. London had a
    "Jewish Shelter" to help immigrants and people in transit - Jack
    used to send money home. Jack met at boat (language problem) -
    Trip - train to Libanon on Baltic - ship to London. In Cape Town
    fetched by S.A. family. Train to Livingstone - worked in mineral
    factory and shop. A few years later Abe was called for to
    Livingstone (aged 18). He was a book-keeper. But didn't stay long.
    "When Weizman came to  Falls he met him and as a result went to
    Palestine and worked in a Bank in Haifa (Weizman helped him). The
    whole family had planned to come to Livingstone. Father came first
    and as there was no shocket or Rabbi - so seniors who was a Rabbi,
    he took up Shchita before arriving. Opened a little clothing shop
    for him which was closed on Saturday and volunteer his services
    to keep community Kosher - also conducted services there. Then in
    1954 the whole family came, children were young (Miriam will write
    her own story). Riva attended school. Ray and Diana had private
    lesson - English. Abe was requested to return to help father. All
    the family eventually came to Salisbury in 1957. Abe returned to
    Salisbury as Hebrew teacher as he wouldn't be allowed to come other-
    wise. When permanent residence obtained - went to work for Julius
    Frankel. Diana was called by Abe to come to teach Hebrew in
    Salisbury. Livingstone no place for Jewish young girls. Diana
    was to stay with an aunt Mrs. Emma Levian (mothers sister). Diana

    teaching Hebrew and studied English, book-keeping, shorthand
    and typing. (Hated teaching) - Konviser came to Salisbury at the
    time, sent her to teach scripture in school. Was not qualified.
    Sally Alhadeff asked questions in class. Di didn't know answers -
    started to cry. (Prince Edward School). Wanted to leave school
    but suddenly notice to quit forthwith. By that time Di worked two
    hours a day for Hymie Const who instructed her to demand a month
    notice otherwise bring congregation to court - got paid.
    Hebrew School 1937 - Venue - Guild Hall - 2 classes, beginners
    and one advance - 5 lessons a week (ask Yvone Forman - one of her
    pupils) - Made Di cry - she was naughty. Pulled Di's hair. Di
    taught about 9 months.

    Di left teaching - joined Hymie Const for Stg 2.10 per month. Soon
    got a rise. Well treated. Di took up dancing, played tennis at
    Jewish Guild in Belvedere - an active organization (ask Lionel
    Harris). Di was left in charge of office a year later when Hymie
    went on holiday. Di called to do a liquidation at a certain firm.
    Did it so well that received a clock as gift from Hymie on his
    return. Worked for Hymie in 1959 when father bought shop in Turk
    Mine 15 miles from Bulawayo. Di went to live in Bulawayo. Whole
    family moved to Turk Mine - girls stayed in Bulawayo to study and
    work. Ray was a tennis player and hockey in Bulawayo. Ray didn't
    work - helped mother at home, stayed in Bulawayo one year, sold
    Turk Mine returned to Salisbury. Di and Riva worked in offices.
    Di mixed with non Jews as worked with them. Used to entertain Jewish
    soldiers in House and in Guild Hall - dances etc. - voluntary
    canteen. Riva- picked as youth beauty queen in Salisbury by Zionist
    Youth. Had a nice life here.

    Ray - Bulawayo - single championship in tennis in 1942. Alex

    Glut for goalie in hockey - spent life in sport because a good


    Alex Park did not re-admit Di as member in 1941 (anti Semitic).

    Abe got married after Miriam, then Jack, then Les, Ray and Riva

    had a double wedding in 1946 in Salisbury. Ray met Joe in

    Muizenberg (he lived in Verineechin) - Riva met Sidney in

    Johannesburg. Riva lived in South Africa for a few years then

    came up to Salisbury (Riva missed family).

    Dina married 1948 in Salisbury.

    (Issi's story)

    (Most people who came here came to make money and help families


    * Father was originally wealthy in Russia - factory flux - when

    warned that government would take over - family decided that

    children must leave.

    Joe's story - was introduced to Ray in Muizenberg at a

    Communal work -

    Issi served in Latvia army for one year.

    Issy - from Latvia 1939 - war broke out while on board ship. Issy

    finished law in Riza - difficult for Jews to be accepted into

    profession. Had relations in South Africa who suggested he should

    come there - but South Africa did not accept Issy easily. Had an

    uncle in Enkeldorn (mother's brother) Ephraim Blank (Dolly's husband)

    guaranteed - from South Hampton to Beira. On ship - (incident -

    painted ship grey for security, no lights etc.) All other members

    of family perished by Nazi's.

    (Trap set by German officer).

    Beira - Umtali met Blank - first year learned English - then took

    over running of office. Then left Enkeldoorn 1941 - worked for

    Bloom-Braude as accountant. Then ran the business while Bloom

    sons were in army. Issi bought Lycos Bazaar in partnership with

    H. Koblenz Senior. Later opened United Company with

    partner - also ran country stores also an outfitting shop in travel.
    got stuck with van in rivers. Oxen used to pull vehicles out of
    rivers (crossing rivers).

    When first came - Afrikaaners tried to entertain Issi, organized
    a hunting expedition - at night with a torch strapped to forehead -
    switch on, catch eyes, aim between eyes. Suddenly 2 big eyes -
    aiming - pulled trigger halfway to shoot - suddenly heard a cow
    mooing - this sort of hunting was prohibited - could get into
    serious trouble. Considered a foreigner for five years - in Enkel-
    doorn volunteered to forces - accepted as a guard but Issy did not

    Then sold linen company and went into Electric Bus. - Electrosales -

    then F. Neill and Sons (Pvt) Ltd. in Salisbury and Bulawayo -

    butcher's requisites, spice, weighing equipment. Then sold business

    and went on Aliya 1978.






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