My mother, on the other hand, was eager to break the forced way of life that was offered to her in the formerSoviet Union. She was the pilgrim in our family. Everyone thought that she was very daring to go to theU.S. People were scared and forbidden to even listen to the “Voice of America”, because it was considered enemy propaganda. It was the time of the cold war, but it did not scare my mother. She was determined to meet the rest of our family.
My first Jewish symbol was a necklace with the Shalom sign that my mother brought me fromAmerica. I could not stop looking at it after listening my mother’s stories about US. My peers in school would ask me what I was wearing around my neck. Everyone knew about my mother’s trip toU.S. I would always proudly say: “It is a peace sign!” I felt almost obligated. I already was a part of that country that I had never seen. One day while I was visiting my grandmother, she reached forward and touched the necklace, her eyes were full of joy like she had accomplished her first task.
During my third year of medical school, I finally followed my grandmother’s recommendations to go to the Moscow Central Synagogue for the holiday called Simcha Torah to celebrate the conclusion of the yearly Torah reading. All of my friends gathered at the steps of this beautiful and monumental institution. The celebration usually drew a big crowd of young people. The festive atmosphere of singing, dancing, and sharing food together united us. The dark night was approaching. The air was getting colder. The boys put their jackets on their girl’s shoulders.
Suddenly, a bright light blinded the crowd from above. A loud male voice was heard from a megaphone. The voice was becoming louder and louder when I saw a police car slowly driving down the wide street, dividing the crowd like Moses at theRed Sea, but it was not Moses. And the words were not his. The loud voice from the car was insistently saying: ”Comrade Jews, it is time to go home!” ”Comrade Jews, it is time to go home!” ”Comrade Jews, it is time to home!” It continued until the car disappeared in the dark. At that moment I realized that it was my time to go and find my roots! It was my turning point.
Twenty-two years passed since I leftRussia. I was standing at the bima with my husband and my mother. My eyes were full of tears of joy and appreciation. The light beam from above was traveling through the skylights of the synagogue, guiding our thoughts and emotions. Together with my husband who is a third generation American with roots in New York City, we raised a beautiful girl who on that sunny summer Saturday morning, was reading fluently in the Hebrew language from an ancient book filled with words of wisdom that have inspired generations. She might not fully comprehend the meaning of that power, the toil that was associated with it, and the mystery of it, but together we will…
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