I have very sad news to report to you. On January 15 2007 my father Benyamin Leybovich suddenly passed away. On January 13 in the evening I spoke to him on the phone, his voice was firm, usually when he isn’t feeling well his voice trembles. I had plans to travel to Ovruch on January 20, he wished me an easy journey, asked whether Lena, my son’s wife, had given birth yet, and whether there were any letters from our American friends. After I answered, we ended the call. If he hadn’t called to greet us on the New Year, that would have meant that something was wrong! Then the morning of January 14 we received a call from Olya, the woman who cares for Papa. She said that Papa went into the bathroom and fell. She called the ambulance and with the help of a neighbor they got him into bed. My hands and feet started to tremble. I said that my sister Rosa and I would come. I called our relatives in Canada and in America while we were on the way there, an 18-hour drive. We arrived at 2 in the afternoon on January 15 but Papa had died at 10 in the morning. Approaching the house we saw a lot of people and immediately understood. All the procedures were carried out in accordance with his wishes. Papa himself had prepared his clothing and everything necessary for his final journey, we knew about this. He lay there, clean and neat as if he were living. My sister and took care of arranging the funeral. After consulting with others we decided to bury him on January 16 at 12 o’clock. People close to us were with us the entire time.
The town mayor offered an orchestra to us but we declined, as Papa didn’t want this and told us so. Long before his death he had reserved a place for himself in the cemetery beside our mother. In 2006 when [my brother] Boris and I were in Ovruch and the three of us visited the cemetery, Papa again directed our attention to this, “There is my place, don’t get it mixed up.” Papa loved life very much, he loved to have guests and to visit others. He didn’t miss a single Jewish wedding; people respected him. Not more than 40 Jews live in the town, and all of them were at the funeral. The rabbi and several people came from Zhitomir. War veterans came, people from where he had worked all his life, and neighbors. In the 1970s our street was still entirely Jewish. With Papa’s departure, not one Jew lives on this street anymore. The house is empty. It is very dear to me. Our childhood was passed here. Wherever we were, we always knew that with our families we could go to Ovruch and see Mama and Papa. It was very crowded, in two large rooms there were 13 to 15 people living. But these were very happy days. Everyone envied our big friendly family, and close neighbors in honor of our coming baked things for us and came to greet us. I want very much for some of our children or grandchildren to come and live in this house. Right now no one is getting married, and also it is difficult to find work. At the beginning of May I will go to Ovruch. I need to put up a fence and choose a memorial stone. We will install the memorial next year in the spring.
On March 5 our granddaughter was born, they named her Verazhka. A sweet, little girl. It is a shame that Papa didn’t get to see his great-granddaughter… We send you a heartfelt greeting for Pesach. We wish you happiness, good health, long years, and may grief never touch you and your dear ones and beloved friends. May the Almighty protect you. Omen! With great esteem and friendship.
The Feldman Family