August 28, 1938 (?)1


Author(s) / Origin of Letter
Recipient(s) / Relationship to Author(s) / Destination of Letter


Berta Jellinek (see Hugo Jellinek's bio)
                [Brünn, Czechoslovakia]
Gisella Nadja Jellinek (sister of BJ)
[Rishon Le Zion, British Mandate Palestine]
Berta writes lofty, idealistic 18th birthday wishes for her older sister Gisella Nadja, and for herself too. Berta also gives a spirited report of her recent bicycle accident, symbolic resistance, work and studies.

                                                                                 (View German transcription)

Dear Nadja!

Don’t be angry with me that I am only writing to you now, but I know that I haven't missed anything, since you know some things better than I, as our dear father writes very often, but I already found an excuse as you have already heard by letter, I have zeroed in on […], and my target was a beautiful red-and-white marble savings bank building.2

You have also certainly heard about my “laurels,” haven’t you? Now pay attention: I pretended that my hand was swollen, wrapped it in blue-white-red – the Czech flag – and a white bandage on top – [...rude?], sat home for a week, the bicycle [?], the [M ...?],
[... ... ... ] the air outside, ruptured tires [...?]

[next page]

driving lesson a quarter to the right, left, straight ahead, break your neck and leg.3This can’t happen to your oranges.

You must excuse me, I came home tired from work and then the worry about our loved ones.

Business is improving again, since everyone is returning from vacation, unfortunately, but thank God, I have registered at the continuing education school and this Thursday, September 1, will be our first day of school. The reason I say unfortunately is firstly, I’m paying for it and secondly, I have school three times a week in the afternoon, and yet I am glad and hope that I will learn something new that I can use in business and again earn a few more crowns.

Soon it will be one year that I have been studying, and [hopefully] three years more.


[next page]

I have gotten a lighter hand so that my work goes a bit faster now.

Belated congratulations on your 18th birthday and I wish you whatever you wish for yourself, long life, health, heroism, courage, to be a good Chavera,4 and that your ideal will be realized and not to forget plenty of work etc., otherwise you won’t be happy!!! (I hope I have wished you enough). But don't feel bad: my birthday will also be forgotten. I alone will only know it.

[next page]

I alone will wish myself birthday wishes, and wish for myself the things I have decided to become and fight for my ideas and convictions. It doesn’t matter, maybe–

Soon, a Chavera named Gina will be coming to Erez, in fact, with Bethar. Get in touch with her, we know each other fairly well and she has much to tell you.

[aside]: Greetings to [Mirst?] and the blond fellow

I hope you are satisfied with my letter. If not, (send it back !!) understand me? yes, it is good!5 Happy birthday, once more!

In anticipation of a speedy and detailed letter about your well-being, I kiss you and send warm greetings,

your faithful6 sister Bertha [or Berta ?]



Translated by Anne L. Fox, edited by Brian Middleton


1. Date of letter estimated as ca. August 28, 1938, because the letter contains belated 18th birthday congratulations to Nadja; Nadja’s 18th birthday was on August 6, 1938.

Additionally, it says “...this Thursday, September 1...” September 1 fell on a Thursday in the year 1938. We can also ascertain from this phrase that the letter was written in late August; a few days before September 1. Berta’s somewhat upbeat tone and her registration for school also seem to indicate that this was written before the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia of 1939.

2. Part of this narrative seems like a nightmare or fantasy of Berta’s.

3. Expression for “Good luck.”

4. Chavera is the feminine form of the Hebrew word for friend, member, fellow, partner. Here and when it is next used (about Gina coming to Erez), the meaning is member -- of the Betar (aka Beitar or Bethar) organization. Betar, an activist, Revisionist Zionist youth movement, was founded in 1923 in Riga, Latvia by Vladmir Jabotinsky. Its basic ideals included personal dedication to the creation of a Jewish state “on both sides of the Jordan,” personal immigration to and pioneering in Palestine and systematic defense training. Throughout the 1930s and early 40s, Betar aided in the immigration/rescue of thousands of Jews to Palestine, in violation of the British Mandate’s extremely limited immigration quotas.

5. The words “understand me? yes, it is good!” were written in English by Bertha.

6. Bertha misspelled the word “treue” as “teure,” changing its meaning to “expensive.”

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