Here comes the awaited sequel to Citizen Chicken.
Since more of my friends were being arrested and things were getting really scary, my parents made a decision to send me to the US. They sold everything they had to buy a ticket for me. I believe it saved my life. Of course, in a manner of any revolutionary I did not want to go. I begged to stay, and clang to the illusion that it is just a visit to my Grandparents(who came to live in Philadelphia many years before that). Three months later my Mom and my Sister came. It took my Dad three more years! I had to grow up fast. I had a family and I was the most able-bodied person. I needed to earn the living. It took a while for me to see how much my parents suffered from my passionate pursuit of justice and political equality. My Filipino friend Any, of “Any’s Hat“, I think put it best. She told me how she, with other students, was huddled behind the barricade, looking at the tanks coming at them. And all of a sudden she thought that in a few minutes this all might end and that her death will change nothing. She told me that this was the moment when she really grew up.
So I grew out of my barricades, learned English, and life went on. I became not only religious, but truly observant. I found my Jewish heritage, found my way of life.
Some might say that being an Orthodox Jew is pretty extreme. Possibly. I am not sure.
This year we made our Aliyah, our move to Eretz Yisroel, Israel.
I lived in the US for more than 20 years and was pretty sure I was “Russian”. Only after our move here I realized how “American” I have become. And I am grateful. I am grateful to G-d, who has let me discover so many things about myself. Grateful to the Lubavitcher Rebe, who have taught me the meaning of being Jewish. Grateful to my parents and my husband.
As to my past – the USSR expired before my visa did. It broke up into pieces. When, last year, I was trying to obtain a notarized copy of my birth certificate I called the Russian Embassy in N.Y. After a long conversation with someone, who barely spoke thickly accented English (I still can not figure out why this person insisted on speaking the language they barely knew) I was told that no, I can not get my document, because I was born on the territory of Ukraine, therefore I have never been a Russian citizen. And they only serve Russian citizens. They advised me to contact a Ukrainian consulate. I then called a Ukrainian consulate. There they only wanted to speak Ukrainian to me. I was informed that since I have not asked for the Ukrainian citizenship when Ukraine declared it’s independence, I can not be considered a Ukrainian citizen. They only serve Ukrainian citizens and I was advised to call the Russian Embassy.
The first two people to meet our family at the airport in Israel were employees of the ministry of absorption were named, no I am not kidding, Boris and Natasha. And I was American enough to appreciate it. Funny, the longer I live in Israel, the more American I feel.
Truly I am a citizen of the world!