Lenin, Stalin, Brezhnev….. well you know, they could not be shared with anything or anyone else. From the moment we entered school we wore a little pin with young Volodya Lenin on our uniforms.
As we grew older we progressed to a more adult version of the same pin and that fashion trait continued throughout our school years.
Any crosses or Star of David’s were prohibited to wear to school.
Being Christian or Jewish back in the USSR was secular vs.
I knew I was Jewish not because we practiced Judaism – no one did, but because my dad was Jewish, his dad was Jewish, my mom was, her mom was so I knew I must be Jewish too. I also knew I was Jewish because every teacher in school had a catalog, where all the kids and their nationalities were listed. By the time the kids turned 16 years old they would be given a passport listing their nationality too.
A factor that may have retarded the process of ethnic Russification was the long-established practice of using nationality labels on official documents. For example, the “nationality” of Soviet citizens was fixed on their internal passports at age 16, and was essentially determined by the nationality of the parents. Only the children of mixed marriages had a choice: they could choose the nationality of one of their parents. Furthermore, an individual’s nationality was inscribed on school enrollment records, military service cards (for men), and labor booklets. Although the census question on nationality was supposed to be only subjective and not determined by the official nationality in an individual’s passport, the fixing of official nationality on so many official records may well have reinforced non-Russian identities. Among some groups, such as Jews, the ubiquitous use of such an official nationality on identity papers and records was viewed as a factor that fostered discrimination against them. – wikipedia- Russification.
As you can see based on the above documents we were not really liked too much, plus I also knew Jews were responsible for killing Lenin - another reason for not liking us. Forget all of our other “crimes” we committed, that
crime blessing alone was big enough.
People, Jews or non-Jews did not practice religion – churches became museums, synagogues practically did not exist….
America took us with open arms and said to us – you are now free and you can practice your religion! The only problem was we did not know how and frankly we were not in a hurry to learn.
Passover, Chanukah, Purim are just
excuses holidays for our families to get together and eat, but when the time came for our first son to become Bar-mitzvah we did not hesitate one minute, of course it has to be done! It was a private, family event that meant a lot for my parents-in-law and my mom. They still remembered how it was done when they were kids before the WWII started and Communism hit!
10 years later our younger son had different plans for us. Our initial idea was to go to Israel since we have never been there – and what a great occasion – he gets to become a Bar Mitzvah at the Western Wall and then we will travel and see the country afterwards.
“WHAT!?!?!?! What about my friends, what about my party, and what about my grandparents-they couldn’t travel with us??!” said concerned Max.
We did not care much about his friends or the party, but we knew our parents would want to be a part of their younger grandson’s transition from a boy to a young man…..
to be continued…..