“I discovered that I was a Jew at age thirteen, and I was heartbroken,” said Aliza. “I had negative preconceived notions about Jews, and it didn’t help that my classmates …

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“My origins are a mystery,” she begins, “though I know I’ve always held an important role.” Meet Babushka. “Why do they call me Babushka? It isn’t because of my age. …

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“Have you ever read Sholom Aleichem?” Boruch asked. “That’s how this neighborhood looked when I was a kid. There were hundreds of Jews living here, and they all looked like …

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“My mother was a traditional Jew,” said Natasha. “She’d fast on Yom Kippur, wouldn’t allow bread into our home on Passover, and would pray often. But as a young girl, …

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“The saddest day of my life was the day I buried my mother. It was also my 45th birthday.” Meet Alexander Bermus, Professor of Pedagogical Sciences at The Southern Federal …

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“It was my first Jewish experience,” said Paulina. “I still don’t understand how my parents, who considered themselves atheists, agreed to send me to the local Jewish summer camp, Gan …

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“These were my ancestors,” Chaya said, holding an old, sepia-toned photo. “The Nazis brutally murdered them here seventy-five years ago. They filled this mass-grave with 27,000 Russian Jews in just …

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My wife died this past September. We were married for 59 years. I survived three heart attacks, but losing Alla was unbearable. I laid my feet down, never intending to …

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“My story started before I can remember,” Leora began. “I was born during difficult times. My parents were struggling to make ends meet when a friend of my mom suggested …

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“When I arrived from Serbia three years ago, I didn’t speak Russian, but the Jewish school welcomed me with love. The language wasn’t the only thing unfamiliar. I remember the …

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“I was born in Israel, but for whatever reason, at the age of three my family moved back,” said Daniella. “I guess you can say that my journey was a …

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“I spend more time here than I do at home,” said Esti. “It feels like I’ve been here forever. It’s hard to believe that the first time I walked into …

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“I was fifty-years-old the first time I picked up a Chumash in the synagogue and began reading it backward–not knowing that Hebrew reads right to left.” Meet Michail Yeffimovich Nevoroshkin. …

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“Adina is studying music at the College of the Arts in Rostov,” says Galina, proudly watching her granddaughter bring the violin’s strings to life. “I’m sorry that I didn’t send …

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“My family has been living in Rostov for four generations.” Meet Uri. “During the first World War, many refugees moved to Rostov. Among them, as you probably know, were the …

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“After spending years exploring every other religion, I came to a realization that it was time to learn about my own, true nationality.” Meet Boruch. “Twelve years ago, I walked …

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“’What’s your name?’ they asked me as I walked into the synagogue for the first time in the 1980s.” “‘Bermant,’ I said.” “They didn’t seem satisfied.” “’We don’t know a …

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“The first time I felt my soul was when I was ten,” said Maxim. “I was vacationing in the Czech Republic with my family, and we stopped into a jewelry …

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“I started working at the Kosher store four years ago,” said Galina. “I live just a few blocks away from the synagogue, but this job was my first encounter with …

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“Hello, my friend,” Yoisef tells me, with a huge smile on his face. He always seems so happy to see me when I visit. “How are things in New York?” …

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“Yanky, can I ask you for a favor? I wrote a book on mathematics, and I’d like to get a copy to my old professor. He lives in New York …

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“Great,” he says. “We have a date. I’ll be waiting for you at my home on Wednesday at 7 pm. “You might want to take a cab,” he adds. Meet …

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“I thought I heard a helicopter approaching,” she began, “but helicopters weren’t common in Lugansk. The sound kept getting louder and louder, as the chopper hovered over my building.” Meet …

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“I’ve been working for the Jewish community for 15 years,” said Vova. “Every week I go to the market and buy 30 kilos of fresh fish for the Shabbos Kiddush. …

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“I was seven when Stalin died,” said Oleg, a retired sports trainer. “I was never able to receive a Jewish education, but my mother made sure I knew that I …

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“I have lived through some of the darkest times,” said Miriam. “I witnessed firsthand the atrocities of the Holocaust and the oppression of communism.” “But tonight, as I quietly light …

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“Tell me, Yanky. Where were you for Chanukah in ’91?” he asked. Meet Alex. “I was 14,” Alex continued. “Chanukah was approaching, and we were super excited. We got on …

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“I knew I had some Jewish blood,” he said, “because I remembered hearing my grandma speaking Yiddish whenever she was angry. But it seemed pretty irrelevant to me – the …

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“I love the Jewish school,” Ilana said. “It’s more pleasant than my old school and the classes are much smaller.” “Isn’t it boring when there are fewer kids?” I asked. …

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“They say that the mind becomes less sharp when you stop working, so I decided that retirement is not for me. My work: Studying the Tanya, reading Tehillim, praying daily …

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Friends: Shaindel (left) and Ilana. “Meet my friend, Ilana,” Shaindel said. “We found each other recently – here in the Jewish community. Honestly, she isn’t just a friend. Ever since …

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Friends: Shimon (left) and Mendel “Shimon is my best friend and partner in crime,” says Mendel. “We know each other since I moved here. I was only three. His name …

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“That’s grandpa and me,” said Marina, pointing to an old photograph. Meet Abram Benyaminovitch Norman. “Grandpa spoke proudly of a special privilege that he had. It was before World War …

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“I came back to my hometown to visit old friends,” says Chana (left). “But Miriam and I are really more than friends. We are like family.” “We go way back,” …

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“My name is Yuri Zuzin,” he began, “but you can just call me George.” “Did you always know that you were Jewish?” I asked. “When I was 14 years old, …

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“It was around the time of the first world war,” she began, “when a group of evil bandits came to town. Pogroms were quite common in Zaporozhe, Ukraine during those …

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“Mountain Jewess?” I asked.   “Yes, I was born and raised in the Caucasus (Kavkaz) mountains. We have very strong family values and have kept our Jewish traditions for centuries …

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“Would you like to take off your coat?” I asked. “I think it will look nicer.” “What use is it?” she responds. “How old do you think I am?” Meet …

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“The first time I stepped into this Shul was on Simchas Torah, 1948. I was seven years old. My father died before I was old enough to remember him, so …

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“Last May, I joined the EuroStars youth club in our community for a Jewish heritage trip to Spain. We attended weekly classes all year in order to earn it. It …

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Simchas Torah, 2016. “Nu, Yanky,” he said with a mischievous smile. “Are you ready for Kiddush?” Meet Sholom Ber Nezhni. “Be warned, though. This is not your regular vodka. It’s …

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“I was born just after the war. Two years later, my father left us. “I can still remember the first time I came to this synagogue. It was Yom Kippur, …

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“Being Jewish wasn’t easy during communism. As a young woman, I once applied for a job. The interview went well and it seemed like they were going to hire me. …

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