"My sister immigrated first. But then she was killed in a bomb attack"
Location: Allenby Street, Tel Aviv
The encounter: Ludmilla was playing accordion in the street. It’s my favorite instrument, so I stopped to listen. Ludmilla told me she didn’t speak much Hebrew, even though she has lived in Tel Aviv for twenty-three years. “I am Hebrew not good!” she said. But she spoke Hebrew well enough to tell me about herself in simple sentences: about her husband who had died in a car accident, and about her sister, who was killed in a bus bombing just a few blocks away from where we were talking. In her accordion case, Ludmilla carried a newspaper clip that listed the names of all twenty-two victims of the attack. She also carried old photos of herself as an eighteen-year-old beauty; as a twenty-three-year-old, just before her wedding; and as a forty-eight-year-old widow. When I asked if she likes playing in the street, her eyes lighted up, and she answered: “Of course I like!”
What are you doing here right now?
I play here every day, if no rain or I am not at the doctor or something else. I’m not a professional musician. I taught myself to play. I did not learn in school.
What is your occupation?
Before I retired, I worked as a cleaner and as a caretaker. In Ukraine, I worked in a store.
Can you tell me a bit about your family?
I have been a widow for forty years. My husband died in a car accident in Ukraine. I came to Israel because my sister immigrated first. But then she was killed in a bomb attack. She had been in Israel for four years. She was fifty-five years old. Her name was Alexandra. I have a daughter here, and also my sister has a daughter. My daughter lives in Bat Yam. She is divorced. She works in a supermarket. My grandson is thirty-three. He works, but he has no family yet. I don’t know what kind of work he does.
Where is your family from?
I was nine when the Second World War started. We were in Uzbekistan. My parents fled there. They had no money. We were there for three years, and at the end of the war we returned to Ukraine. Now I get money because I am a holocaust survivor! Every year I get $1000!
What are your hopes and expectations for the future of this land?
The Arabs are no good. All the time there are bombings. It’s not good. There won’t be peace.