Soviet-Jewish Decade Top 10: Breaking Stalin’s Nose

December 25, 2019 / Comments Off on Soviet-Jewish Decade Top 10: Breaking Stalin’s Nose
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Soviet Jewish Decade Top 10 Breaking Stalin's Nose by Eugene Yelchin

My third pick for the top works in the Soviet-Jewish world this decade is Breaking Stalin’s Nose, by Eugene Yelchin. It’s one of the very few books for kids about the Soviet period, and explains the mechanisms of the Stalinist era the eyes of a 10-year-old.

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Lost in Immigration: People I Will Never Know

December 31, 2018 /

This photo was taken a few nights before we left the Soviet Union forever. To my knowledge, it is the only photo that exists of me with all my (at that time living) grandparents. That’s them, in the front row. My paternal grandmother, then my maternal grandfather (holding me), and my maternal grandmother next to…

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12 things I learned about Soviet childhood from my Bukvar

March 13, 2014 /
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
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 / 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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Hindu gods, the Alberta way (Immigrant Decor Part 3)

July 26, 2011 / Comments Off on Hindu gods, the Alberta way (Immigrant Decor Part 3)

Our next submission on the things we take with us growing up in immigrant homes is from writer Scaachi Koul, who writes about her distance from her Indian background. Scaachi is currently interning over at Huffington Post Canada. She also keeps a personal blog, Big Fists, where she’s recently started an advice column featuring her…

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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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