Remembering my Communist aunt

As Basha Rosenblum’s grand-niece, I was delighted to read Kenneth Kann’s op-ed “CJM exhibit on Bay Area presents bland Zionist fairy tale” (Feb. 15). How well he caught her essence.

Everyone around her knew that Singerman was a fictitious name, a name that was used even in the California Historical Society article to cover her tracks in the McCarthy era. My great-aunt Basha was in the “progressive” group, as they euphemistically called themselves. She was a die-hard Communist known as “the Red Aunt” by her Midwestern family in St. Louis, where her older sister settled with 10 children in a lifestyle that Basha had shunned.

Basha argued fervently with my husband, Tsvi, an Israeli, during the last years of her life when she lived with us in Berkeley. She might concede briefly on a point about Israel, Stalin and the Communist party after they finished singing Yiddish songs.

I’m grateful for Kann’s book, “Comrades and Chicken Ranchers, The Story of a California Jewish Community,” available when I was working on my play “Basha Rubenchek from Minsk, Comrade of Petaluma.” Photos from the play are on

Basha Rubenchek Rosenblum’s life story still draws controversy.

Mae Ziglin Meidav   |   Berkeley