As the Orange Revolution plays out in the streets of Kiev, half a world away in Brooklyn, Jewish emigres from Ukraine are reflecting the same split regarding that country’s ongoing political crisis as their countrymen back home.
Those from Kiev and the western part of the country generally favor the pro-Western Viktor Yuschenko for president, while those from the east and south back the pro-Russian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych.
Severed from their own history — its joys and tragedies — growing numbers of retirement-age Russian Jews here are on a roots journey to uncover as much as they can about how Jews from the former Soviet Union lived and died.And though they have come to the journey later than many American-born Jews, they are making up for lost time, fueled both by the Internet and a nagging feeling of incompleteness.
Amid the publicity given to Gov. Elliot Spitzer’s partially successful efforts to achieve significant savings in health care costs in the state budget, one little-noticed line item expanding state funding for health care was inserted with the support of the leadership of both houses of the State Legislature — $540,000 for thyroid cancer screening for New Yorkers who were exposed to massive amounts of harmful radiation during the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident.
The copy of Leon Uris’ “Exodus” that Mark Tsesarsky read as a teenager was fragile, having passed through many hands before his. This was a samizdat copy, published underground and secretly circulated among Jews in the former Soviet Union. In the 1970s, reading it could have gotten Tsesarsky arrested, but, as he told Uris many years later as a new citizen of the United States, it made him “a Zionist in hiding.”
Has a Russian-language newspaper in America known for its assertive stand for a Russian-American Jewish community independent of influence back home fallen under the sway of Moscow?Some in the Russian-speaking world are asking this question six weeks after the Russian Forward, the well-regarded weekly newspaper, was sold to local businessmen and Jewish organizational leaders known collectively as the Mitzvah Media Group.While the founders of Mitzvah Media — Dr. Igor Branovan, Dr.
Call it dialectical rock — a new musical form with roots in the psyche of the Soviet past that gives voice to all the contradictions of the present-day Russian Jewish immigrant experience.
Drozdy (Blackbirds), a musical group formed six months ago by five close friends in their early 50’s — most of whom have been part of the tight-knit Russian literary, artistic and counter-cultural scene since arriving here 30 years ago — have been winning raves since they cut their self-titled CD last month (many of the songs are available on YouTube).
Jacob Strumwasser, 24
Young hedge funder who grants micro-loans to Jewish Argentineans
For Jacob Strumwasser, it all began with a Taglit-Birthright Israel trip when he was studying at the University of Michigan. The trip helped him connect with his Jewish past and inspired him to take an active role in building the Jewish future in Argentina.
The Museum of Modern Art's temporary move from Midtown to the former Swingline staple factory in Queens binds the venerable arts institution to New York's immigrant history. Swingline's founder, Jack Linsky, came to America from Russia as a boy and within three decades had revolutionized office work.
Edward Serotta read Basya Chaika's life story for the first time a few weeks ago.
Sitting in his Vienna office, he learned how Chaika, a 16-year-old loyal communist at the end of 1943, had served on a secret military tribunal in Kiev, sentencing to death Ukrainian traitors and collaborators who had worked with the occupying Nazi army.
An employee of Serotta's Central Europe Center for Research and Documentation had interviewed Chaika, who still lives in Kiev. Serotta was editing her story.