Blog

12 things I learned about Soviet childhood from my Bukvar

March 13, 2014
Russian bukhvar - Russian alphabet - Soviet children at home alone with a photo of Yuri Gagarin looking down at them

After my last post, one of my cousins got nostalgic for her old Bukvar and thought she’d try to buy one online. She found one on Amazon, to the tune of $2,450. My heart is breaking that I didn’t have the fortitude to do anything more useful with mine than mark it all up for…

Keep Reading »

Russian Bukvar for beginners – How I almost didn’t learn Russian

March 5, 2014
Russian bukvhar from 1970s

I wrote a bit last time about one of my ‘immigrant identity crisis’ vignettes that I shared at the Limmud retreat. But it started with an assignment, to bring an artifact, or object, from home about our Russian-Jewish heritage. When you and your childhood home are separated by over 3,000km, digging up an acceptable artifact…

Keep Reading »

The Russian make-up brigade

February 27, 2014

Early in January, I spent a weekend at a planning retreat for Limmud FSU Canada (it’s the first ever Limmud FSU in Canada, and yes, expect to hear more from me about it soon). We were all asked to bring an artifact that spoke to our Russian selves, and as part of the identity-digging activity…

Keep Reading »

Share your story! Looking for Soviet-Jewish immigration stories from the 1970s

December 11, 2013
Early 1960s Soviet schoolchildren for Soviet-Jewish immigration stories

Hi guys, I’m really excited to tell you about funding I’ve received to do an oral history project on the 1970s immigration period!! I’ll be interviewing people and posting it as part of an online exhibit on the history of the Soviet-Jewish immigration. Here’s where you can help – I’m looking for Soviet-Jewish immigrants to…

Keep Reading »

Limmud FSU: That time I spent a weekend speaking Russian

March 20, 2013
Limmud FSU 2013

Years of travelling and moving around the world, and I still managed to pull off a first this weekend, at Limmud FSU, a Russian-Jewish conference in Princeton. My first experience of the organized Russian-Jewish community in North America. Just how fish-out-of-water was this for me? It was a full 48 hours in when a friend turned…

Keep Reading »

With so many ways to keep in touch, let’s never talk again

March 11, 2013
Vintage Russian phone found in Moscow illustrating how immigrants keep in touch

I spend a lot of time downloading Facebook photos, uploading them to an email and sending them to my parents, where, I suspect, they will sit for all eternity in their inboxes. We, like most families, used to have albums, but now we have attachments we will never find again. As usual, we have an…

Keep Reading »

Apparently, there are words I still don’t know in English. Like apron.

March 8, 2012
Vyertolyet - or wooden helicopter toy - a word I often forget in English

I forgot the word for helicopter the other day. For the rotor, actually. And I didn’t forget so much as remember it in the wrong language. My brain froze up and then offered me nothing but a very Russian “vyertolyot”. The end result is that I have a toddler who will never know what those…

Keep Reading »

Hiding out in the ‘burbs

September 21, 2011
Film still representing the lives of immigrants in the suburbs

Surprisingly to some, many of the people living in the suburbs – places like Peel or Scarborough – do so voluntarily—almost as if they like it or something. Moreover, a very significant chunk of those suburbanites aren’t white and weren’t born in Canada, a fact that raises some rather sticky questions. To wit, as downtown…

Keep Reading »

When all is fleeting anyway, food becomes everything (Immigrant Decor Part 5)

August 4, 2011
Russian Salad Olivier - Russian version of potato salad

If I had a Russian food blog, it would be something like The Gastronomical Me, by Katrina K., a transplanted Russian who lives in London. And, if I loved in London, I would be crashing her monthly Soviet brunch club. As it is, I may have to start my own version in Toronto. In the…

Keep Reading »

The weight of an English chesterfield (Immigrant Decor Part 4)

July 27, 2011

This next post is from Navneet Alang, a tech-culture writer and PhD student. You can catch his always thoughtful commentary in This Magazine and the Toronto Standard, among others. Nav’s memorable item is slightly bigger than your average tchotchke, but what I really appreciate is how neatly it upends expectations of what, or where, home…

Keep Reading »