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About my mother

«She was my God, my religion, my faith. And I will not part with this faith until my life comes to an end.
Just standing near my mother for a few minutes, made things seem much easier. It seemed as though she blessed me every time she saw me.
…However, on May 7th, 1991, I returned from being on tour and went practically past my mother’s house. I called my mother from Sheremetyevo Airport. She asked me to stop by, and said, “Son, I made your favorite meal, come on by!”. I told her that I was very tired, that I had not slept in a long time and wanted to get some rest before coming by. Mother pleaded with me to visit, even if it was just for five minutes, but I promised to come the next morning. And in the morning, my sister called me, and informed me that our mother had passed away…»

From an Interview with J.D. Kobzon’s sister:

Many know how Joseph loved our mother, Ida. He continues to speak about her with a constant affection and love although she has not been with us for 10 years.

But our mother was an unusual person. Wonderfully, she had a sense of combined wisdom and energy, the highest of culture and an amazing tactfulness. I remember her as being very principled and always fair. Until now, I never fully understood how much strength she had to have in order to support such an enormous family with five sons! Everyone in our family remembers her pickled food. It was tastier than anything, no matter how many others we’ve tried, it’s never as good as our mother’s.

In the years leading up to the war (from 1934-1940,) our mother worked as a national judge in the city of Chasiv Yar. During that terrible time, she helped many people avoid arrest. I would probably be right if I said that only a true citizen, and an absolutely principled and fearless person could take on such risky work. We did not know the details, but her friend who was a secretary to the city’s public prosecutor told us about the monstrous period of repressions during the 1930s. When Stalin dictated lists of people who were to be arrested (and these lists were prepared practically daily) her friend would print an extra copy. Our mother carried the copy in the lining of her fur coat, gave it to her housekeeper who then warned everyone she could, not spend the night at home. In that terrible list there were not only names of workers and miners, but well-known people in the city – first of all, the ‘intelligencia’. So because of our mother’s courage, many of these people avoided arrest. Putting herself at risk – and she had children of her own to look after - our mother nevertheless helped others.

She was afraid of nothing or nobody. All my life, I said “Mom, you are so brave!” And she only smiled and turned it all into a joke. But she also often answered “I believed that there must be legitimacy.” I think that is how she showed the strength of her personality. In what she did, not in bravado and in enumerating her merits.

But those awful years are not easy to forget. The fear that reigned during the years of repression stayed with our mother for a long time. She always asked that we not talk to others about what we discussed at home. She knew that people were able to twist words however they wanted to, and even when times changed, she did not change her habit of restraint.

In general, our mother managed to become a well-known legal expert in the Ukraine, and people came from all around to seek her advice. Her professional help was required for the proper conduct of judicial matters, and she had strength like no other. But it was very hard indeed to join the legal profession – she did not get there immediately, and she became a skilled attorney not because of formal education but because of her wisdom and her desire to help people. Having already retired, mom helped her brother win proceedings in the USA, mostly through letters she wrote. He sent her documents and she analyzed them and using her advice, he won his cases.

Our mother had an amazingly clear mind up to her last days, and helped us in every way she could.

I remember when Joseph went on tour in Latin America, and the whole troop of performers came back without Joseph because the Soviet Ministry of Culture made an administrative error in his travel documents. Our mother worked it out with the officials in such a way that Joseph was practically carried onto the plane the next day. Our mother could find her son anywhere, despite not knowing the language she could talk with people on the telephone worldwide. I don’t know how she did it. Joseph was just as surprised: ‘Mom, how did you manage to find me and get me out?’ She usually said “Your mother will find you anywhere.” We had a special spiritual connection with our mother – Joseph always says “my mother, for me, is God.” These are not merely words – this special relationship between mother and son is very rare.

For example, she was very objective when it came to his creative side. She watched his performances and always shared her thoughts – including what she did not like, and never was one to flatter her son.
— Joseph, why did you sing that song?
— Mom, because I had to.
— It does not matter whether you have to – you have to protect your name and reputation. This song is not for you.

She knew all about what was going on around him, and could say straight away, “These people should not be near you”, and Joseph considered our mother as the only real, indisputable authority. He very much respected her, he would open the door to her room and asked whether she had the time to speak with him. And that was when he was already the people’s artist of the USSR!

Our mother had an unusual sense of humor, and was able to relieve tension quickly and easily even in very difficult situations. All of Joseph’s friends like to come to her for advice.

Our mother sang very well – she was even invited to perform in theaters, but her parents were against it. She had a very pure voice, and performed in some amateur plays. But the singer who truly came into being was her son.

At the age of seven, Joseph performed in a State concert before Stalin and many years later, our mother showed him the certificate “Look at the song you sang at that concert!” It was the song of M. Blanter “The birds are flying south.” Our mother saved all the awards given to her son, even certificates from childhood.

Joseph inherited from our mother this sense of responsibility and staying true to the principles she taught him. She always knew who needed what – and always sent packages – medicine, or other items. Our mother’s way of helping others was preserved by the family, and as such, we know no other way. Joseph is always the first to offer a helping hand, though many have forgotten this.
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