Friday, March 06, 2009

Seven #1.1

During a summer shortly before the turn of the century, the Kazachovs were blessed with the birth of their first child, a son. For the entire length of their marriage the Kazachovs had wanted children. For years they tried, actually conceiving but always having it end in a miscarriage. Six in all. Doctors sure she would never be able to get pregnant again but she amazed them. Then the doctors were sure she would not carry the baby to full term but again, she amazed them. But something had changed in the family, no longer were they ecstatic about their upcoming arrival. Certain she was carrying this child for no reason other than another sacrifice to a less than loving god, she just went through the motions. Uncaring what happened.

Labor began in the middle of the night, she awoke her husband and within a couple of hours, a newborn baby was laying cradled in her arms, still breathing and looking up at his loving mother. Names were not chosen for this baby. The parents now did not know what to call their miracle. A glimmer appeared in her eye and she smiled at her husband.

“Lucky seven. Seven,” she said.

“You want to name our son after a number,” he smiled but could see she was not joking.

“Seven is a lucky number. God rested on the seventh day. Seven is prominent number throughout our faith. This is a sign. Seven,” she affirmed.

He smiled and cuddled up next to his wife and newborn son. “Seven,” he sighed.

"Kazachov Family History"
Tzviel Kazachov was born in Zayin, a shtetl located just outside of Kiev. He and his family lived within the cherta osedlosti, or the Pale of Settlement. The Pale was a region in Imperial Russia where Jews were allowed to permanently reside. Poverty and hardship ran rampant in the shtetl and because of the harsh conditions many Jews emigrated from the Pale in Russia to the United States. Tzviel’s family saved as much as they could and in 1882 was able to leave for America. Tzviel would be the only one who would survive the trip. He arrived in New York City in the early fall of 1883 and got by doing odd jobs for many established Jewish proprietors. He found himself moving again to Cincinnati, Ohio in 1889 where he became a teller in a bank.

Eliana, maiden name was Hamlimi, was born and raised in Alexandria, Egypt. In 1881, she and her family escaped being slaughtered due to fears that the Jews were using baby’s blood for ritualistic sacrifices. They arrived in New York City in spring of 1882. Eliana’s father worked hard to provide for his family but after several years of working for someone else, he decided to start his own business and moved his family to Cincinnati.

It was Cincinnati where Tzviel and Eliana met and got married. Tzviel fell in love with the olive skinned beauty. Eliana said that Tzviel had a childlike charm which she found adorable. They were the radicals of their faith, devout Jews but lax with some of the rituals bestowed on the followers. Their marriage was full of love and, oddly, adventure because within two years they packed up and joined twenty-four other Jewish families to Kansas where they settled along the fertile valley of the Kansas River amidst the prairies. The town the families emigrated to was called Cassoday. On the trek to Kansas, the families were denied first class rail accommodations despite buying first class tickets. Cassoday was already a well established town, being nestled amongst fertile hills and valleys and being almost exactly between two larger cities. Cassoday was a stop on the railroad and new businesses quickly sprang up as people settled.

Tzviel was able to secure a job with the railroad and Eliana became the schoolteacher for the Bet Sefer School, a place where the Jewish children could learn using their faith. Soon Eliana became pregnant. She and Tzviel began preparing for what would become the first newborn of Beersheba. But it was not meant to be. Seven months in. A miscarriage would happen five more times and doctors believed she would never be pregnant again so Tzviel and Eliana gave up and when she miraculously became pregnant for a seventh time, neither parent really cared and just waited for their God to take another one of their babies.

Seven was a happy baby. Though not the first baby in Cassoday has was considered by the entire community the town’s miracle baby. Seven was doted on for the first six years of his life then tragedy hit as Eliana died after a short illness. She was buried in the Jewish cemetery a couple miles south of the town. Tzviel and Seven both sat shiva as was the custom although Seven wasn’t sure why weren’t doing anything. He was bored and since it was established he couldn’t go to school, he wanted to go out and play. He couldn’t even do that.

“I want to go out and play,” Seven said, a little bit angry but in a childish, whining tone. “I don’t even know most of these people.”

Tzviel smiled at how his son was more grown-up than he ever thought. “I know but it’s a mitzvah that they are here. Please, just be polite. I will explain when they are gone.”

Tzviel and Seven sat on the floor, another custom said to be symbolic of being brought down by grief, and ate the meal of comforting, seudat havra'ah. Soon, the mourners were gone and it was only father and son. For the next ten years it would be just father and son.

Next Week
Years pass, we meet Seven's friends Tara and Nicholas and we learn more about Cassoday's history and tragedy strikes Tara.