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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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Immigrant household decor: Your stories wanted!

June 28, 2011

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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