$25,000, good wishes pour in for orphaned S.F. teen

Some $25,000 has been raised for Svetlana Sogolova, the Hebrew Academy senior whose older brother and caretaker was shot and killed in an apparent robbery attempt this summer.

Following a September 1 Jewish Bulletin cover story detailing Sogolova's plight, the 17-year-old has also received numerous cards of support from around the state and as far away as Israel.

A Forestville woman sent her a candle in a ceramic holder, and a San Francisco woman sent her a Brahms CD with a card saying that classical music helped her through her own period of grief. A woman from Tarzana invited Sogolova to come stay with her if she needed a home. Others have offered clothing.

Sogolova's aunt, Dvora Dyakova, said the outpouring has meant a great deal to Sogolova, who lost both parents to cancer by the time she was 14.

"I want to thank people for the support and the very warm words and hearts," said Dyakova, who lives in San Francisco and is currently caring for Sogolova. "I'm very appreciative because I am very worried about her future."

At this point, that future is unclear, though Sogolova is talking about going to college next year, said Rabbi Pinchas Lipner, dean of the Hebrew Academy. Sogolova, who attends the San Francisco school on scholarship, has also expressed interest in going to Israel this winter to visit an uncle.

"She is doing well," Lipner said. "She is smiling. She is doing well in school. She is adjusting nicely." Her friends at Hebrew Academy recently threw a birthday party for her.

Sogolova immigrated to the Bay Area from Ukraine with her father and brother less than four years ago. Her father, however, died shortly after the family arrived, and her brother Ilya, a computer programmer, took over as her caretaker.

Sogolova lived with him and his 25-year-old wife, Marianna, in the Park Merced District of San Francisco. Ilya Sogolov was shot in the head, so close to the apartment where the family lived that Svetlana Sogolova heard the gunshots.

Napoleon Hendrix, homicide inspector at the San Francisco Police Department, said the case is still under investigation and no arrests have been made.

Despite Sogolova's trauma, Dyakova agreed with Lipner that the teenager appears to be doing well.

"She is studying, she has a lot of friends and my children are very good to her," she said. "They help her with her studying. They try to help her forget about her problems."