Hot Pastrami.

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.

hot postrami

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 ……




About Ariana

I came to USA about 20 years from former USSR. I am an American Citizen with a heavy Russian Accent. My two boys always make fun of my English. I love to write, I usually do it for me, but if you would like to stop and leave a comment it would be great! I ‘d love to share with you my American World with the hint of my Russian Personality.
This entry was posted in Family, immigration, Judaism, My life, Religion, traditions, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Hot Pastrami.

  1. Natalia says:

    Well said:))

  2. Yale Strom says:

    I am touched by your wirting and happy to know that my scholarly research as well as my art – my music has moved you and I am sure countless others. Where in Moldova are you from – such a great rich Jewish folk culture was once part of everyday Jewish life there. I plan to return next year for more research. all best – zay gezint Yale Strom

    • Ariana says:

      Dear Yale, thank you for your kind words. You really brought joy to me and my moms. They were singing along to every song you and your band performed. We are from Kishinev now Chishinau and believe it or not we have never been back since. I am really feeling the nostalgia now :).
      Please let me know when you will be traveling back, I might send my older son with you. He was born there, but we moved here when he was 13 months and always wanted to see where is he from, plus he can translate for you. He speaks fluent Russian.

  3. So sad. There is a saying that ” you can’t go home again”.in your case it is doubly true. I’ve been thinking of your words for several days. Yours is a dilemma I had not thought of before.

  4. Darice Rene says:

    How deeply sorry I am for your loss – and it is a loss. One to be recognized and grieved. I hope the band helps to reconnect you with your heritage.

    • Ariana says:

      Thanks Darice, it sure did and then I got in touch with the leader of the group, which was very nice too. He even left a comment on this post .

  5. I can’t believe I missed this post from March. It’s always gratifying when you come across something, in this case, music, that reminds you of your roots and heritage. Lovely.
    I want you to know that Yale Strom is based here in San Diego and I got to interview him last year because he was honored as a Local Hero. You can read the story here:
    He said some beautiful things, which I think you’ll find inspiring.

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