Romania was an anti-Semitic country. Although its policy now is not. Talking about antisemitism actually, I should mention as I discussed before, that I was born in that province of Bukovina. Romania was an ally of Germany during the Second World War. And on June 22nd when Nazi Germany attacked Russia, the Romanians joined them but went into a different front which was into the Ukraine, and then in October of 1941, the Romanian government deported all of us, all the Jews from that area, from the Bukovina to the Ukraine, it was under Romanian administration, that’s why they named it Transnistria and we stayed there for three years in a bombed out, abandoned place. It was like a ghetto, you couldn’t go anywhere, you couldn’t make a living, you couldn’t–a lot of people died. So, when we came back it took three years until we were able–when the Russians came in and the Germans started to retreat. So my memories of the deportation itself are very scant because I was only two years old, but at the age of four or so I do have memories about that.
Clara Silvia Leb, known socially and professionally as Silvia Leb, was born in 1939 in Bukovina, Romania, and after leaving Romania for Israel in 1970, permanently settled in Worcester in 1974. One year after arriving in Worcester, she and her husband, Dr. Laszlo Leb, had their daughter, Ellen. After completing her higher education during her early 20s in Bucharest, Romania, she became a lawyer, working as legal counsel for over eight years before her husband received a fellowship as a physician to come to the United States. In this interview, Silvia discusses how she did not speak any English when she first arrived in Worcester with her husband, and she explains how she first attended English as a Second Language classes, how she started volunteering at a legal services office, and how she became a Northeastern Law School graduate while her daughter was in elementary school. She reflects on her roles as a wife and mother while being a full-time law student and lawyer thereafter, and her hopes for her family’s integration and acceptance in America. She touches upon the anti-Semitism she faced in Romania, and she shares how she overcame further challenges in America, and what it means for her to be an American now.