My Story Begins

Throughout the book, you can click on highlighted names
and pictures for more details.

Khokand

My story begins in Khokand, Uzbekistan (formerly part of The Soviet Union), where my mother & father, Bukharian Jews, were born and raised. My mother, Dora Yegoudaeff, was born in 1901. She came from a very large family of 13 siblings. My father Pinchas Mammon, was born in1899. He had a sister named Bachmal. Both my parents lived well in Khokand, as the Jewish and Muslim communities had an amicable relationship.

When my father was a young boy, he studied at a Talmud Torah. He had a beautiful voice and we loved to listen to him sing Jewish melodies. My father was self-employed as a clothing salesman and the majority of his clients wereMuslim. On the other hand, my mother, like most of the Jewish woman in Khok and,did not attend school, as there was some fear Jewish girls who wandered on their own from home would be kidnapped or apprehended by Muslims. That is why my mother, who came to Paris at the age of 25, had no knowledge of reading or writing.

My parents were married at a very young age in 1917. I believe my mother was only sixteen and a half, and my father was eighteen. They apparently lived around the corner from one another. It was shortly after the time of their marriage when things became unsettled in Khokand and across all of Russia.

In the wake of the Russian Revolution, the Menshevik’s took over power from theCzar and things became chaotic. People were suddenly imprisoned simply for being Bourgeoisie. I remember my mother telling us that many of her wedding presents were taken by some burglars who were
taking advantage of the change of government by breaking into homes and businesses to
rob Bourgeois people.

The Menshevik Prime Minister, Kerensky, was unable to restore order or control the mobs, so he resigned. Then the Bolsheviks came into power and all hell broke loose. It was at this time my parents realized that it was getting extremely dangerous for Jews to live under the reign of the Bolsheviks and the entire Mammon family decided to leave Russia. The Mammon family was fortunate in that they all had British passports, which enabled them to emigrate.

Note 1:

The first reference we can find to the Mammon family having British papers is in a book by Eugene Schuyler, anAmerican diplomat, of his travels to Bukhara in the 1870’s. In his book he mentions meeting with the son of a noted Jewish trader of lapis lazuli inBukhara, by the name of Mamun. We know that our name was originally Maman, as we can trace our family tree back to Rabbi Yoseph Maman, and the name is misspelled in his book, but don’t forget the American author was writing a foreign name transliterated into English, and we know from verbal stories that the Mammon’s at one time had the monopoly onlapis lazuli. The son of the trader mentions that he and his father had been ona trading expedition to India some years earlier, and had wanted to go on toEurope, but because of the lack of necessary travel documents, they were obliged, in Bombay, to make themselves British subjects. This they did, and they then went on to London for a year, the father then returned toBukhara, but the son went on to Paris for three more years, before returning.

It is obviously because of their efforts in becoming British subjects at that time, and thereby passing down those rights, that  the Mammon’s were able to leave Khokand when they did, as without them one couldn’t travel to Europe, and during World WarII we were eventually treated as British prisoners of war as opposed to Jewish prisoners, as you will see later in my story.

Note 2:

Upon leaving Russia in 1921, my mother left behind her parents and all her siblings. She never saw some of these family members again, except her sister Yael who came to Ramat Gan, Israel, where they met for the first time in 1951. In 1970, her brother Moshka came to visit us in London on a three month visa. She had never seen him before as he was born after she had already left Russia. At Heathrow Airport we didn’t know what he looked like so we kept on calling out his name, and eventually someone turned around and that’s when we knew it was him.

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