Russian bukvhar from 1970s

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

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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Maxim Shrayer memoir - Leaving Russia Interview

Growing up Refusenik: A Q&A with Maxim Shrayer on his new memoir

[Update – Want to read this in Russian? Click here to read a translation of my Q+A on Booknik.ru] Memoirs about Soviet-Jewish life during the immigration period of the 1970s and 1980s have not yet saturated the memoir genre, so I’m excited to tell you about a new book that’s just come out this month. Leaving …

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Russian kompot recipe

Russian Kompot: I’m probably doing it wrong (with recipe)

I finally made the kompot. What’s kompot? Russian kompot is essentially a homemade fruit juice. It’s been around for centuries and is popular in Russia and the former East Bloc. I only recently learned that what I always thought was kompot was actually compote, which is also made with cooked fruit, but has less liquid …

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Operatsiya Y Soviet movie - Operation Y with Shurik

Operatsiya Y: A Soviet movie flashback. With kompot!

Park yourself at a dinner table of Russians, and inevitably, as the eating part winds down and the drinks are doing their thing, someone says “And the kompot?” And everyone else laughs uproariously and the kompot rarely, rarely ever appears. It’s a line from an old Soviet movie. And, since it’s a line from every …

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Kristallnacht on Twitter post - interior of burnt synagogue in Berlin

Kristallnacht on Twitter seems hopelessly naive

This weekend was the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht – the Night of the Broken Glass, when thousands of Jewish homes and businesses were ransacked and destroyed across Germany. Ninety-one Jews died that night. That was the night of November 9/10, 1938. (Awkward anniversary tie-in – on November 9, 1989, the Berlin Wall came down.) Media …

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An Instagram worthy of royalty and madmen (with video!)

Following up on last week’s post, some related notes on the dictators of the interwebs. Because once you’re done Photoshopping those propaglamour shots, where else do you turn but to Instagram? Slate posted a round-up video of Assad & his cohort are getting up to on Instagram a few months ago. Yes, dictators on Instagram is …

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Kim Jong-Un Photoshop contest - Statues of Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il

Can you Photoshop that? Our tone-deaf response to the Kim Jong-Uns of the world

One of my favourite Soviet-era jokes goes something like this: Three Russians are in the gulag. The first one says, “What are you in for?” The second one replies, “I called Zbarsky a revolutionary.” “That’s funny,” the first one says. “I called Zbarsky a counterrevolutionary.” “That’s funny,” the third one says. “I am Zbarsky.” (I may have …

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