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12 things I learned about Soviet childhood from my Bukvar

March 13, 2014 / 3 Comments
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Russian bukvhar - alphabet book - showing Kremlin

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…

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

March 5, 2014 / Comments Off on Russian Bukvar for beginners – How I almost didn’t learn Russian
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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…

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Public and private during war: YouTube vs Soviet street announcements

July 11, 2012 / 1 Comment
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Soviet citizens listen in Moscow as Molotov announces German invasion of USSR on June 22, 1941. Photo taken by Soviet-Jewish photograher, Yevgeny Khaldei.

Found: Surprise soldier homecoming videos, an entire YouTube phenomenon I never knew existed. Basically, American soldiers who plan to surprise their families with an unexpected homecoming. Usually in public, with a videographer in tow, often from a local TV station. There is an endless reel of these videos, and you can watch them for hours without…

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

March 8, 2012 / 10 Comments
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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…

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

July 27, 2011 / Comments Off on The weight of an English chesterfield (Immigrant Decor Part 4)

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…

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Immigrant household decor: Your stories wanted!

June 28, 2011 / 1 Comment

Did you grow up in an immigrant family (Russian/Soviet or otherwise)? Was every available inch taken up with mementos of the “Old Country”? Or did your family shun any and all reminders? Or maybe it was you who made the journey to a new language, new food, new home and had to decide what to…

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