One of the “bad” parts of immigration is losing your heritage. We try so hard all these years to assimilate, to lose an accent, to find a good job, to fit in and then one day we realize we achieved that, but in the process of it we lost something so dear to our hearts and to our souls, we lost something irreplaceable.
Last night I felt the loss of my heritage in such a raw way, so much so that I wanted to cry out and tell every single immigrant to stay connected, stay rooted, and that one day you will be the only link between old and new, between your grandmothers and your grandchildren.
It’s in particularly hard for us no, for me ( I don’t want to speak for everyone) an immigrant from the former Soviet Union. The Soviet Union does not exist anymore. Now we have countries, which once upon a time were tied together by the same rules, same ideas (bad or good, it’s not what this post is about), same songs, same books. …and it’s particularly hard for Jews. See, a Lithuanian can go back and visit Lithuania, it’s their homeland, an Armenian can go to Armenia and an Ukrainian can hopefully go and visit Ukraine one day. But where would Jews from the Soviet Union go? Being Jewish in Soviet Union wasn’t a religion it was your being. We were always on someone else’s territory. We assimilated to that territory, we adopted their language, their songs, their traditions.
I grew up in the Moldavian republic, which at one point was part of Romania, then it was part of Soviet Union, and now it’s a separate country.
Moldavian culture along with Jewish culture had a very strong presence in our home. My mom and dad both spoke Moldavian language along with Russian and Yiddish. I am still holding a grudge at my parents by not teaching me Yiddish. My grandma used to sing to me Yiddish songs and if she forgot a word or two she would substitute them with Moldavian words.
The reason I’m writing all of this is because last night I went to see a local band ” HOT PASTRAMI”, who traveled to the Romanian and Moldavian country side looking for their heritage and collected Yiddish, Romanian and Moldavian songs – those songs that my grandma used to sing to me.
How funny it is that everything what I ignored growing up, everything what I wanted so desperately to forget trying to build my perfect life, came rushing back to me with these wonderful folk songs.
All of a sudden I’m 12 again listening to my baba Pearl’s velvety voice and feeling a sense of loss ……