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 to me and said, “Oh, look at you, you’re actually speaking Russian!” And so it went. I have lots to say about the weekend, and would love it if you would all go read my article on it here.
Twenty years ago, there were no such discussions. People were just trying to survive and get their bearings in their new country – learn the language, find jobs, enroll their children in school. Looking around, I remembered the commie “jokes” that were once lobbed at me, or the ugly demands to explain the oddities of my newly arrived Russian brethren when the post-collapse wave started to arrive. That period has passed, and yesterday’s immigrants are comfortable here with their varying Russian-Soviet-Jewish North American (and sometimes Israeli) identities. They don’t need to explain themselves to anyone. I had noticed that same evolution among my own family members on a recent trip to Israel, and now here it was, playing out in a hotel just a short drive away from one of America’s oldest universities. – eJewish Philanthropy