Alarming News

July 22, 2014

Luck and 36 American years.

Sunday was 36 years that I’m in America.

For those new to me or this site I was born in the Soviet Union. In a lucky twist of fate, and this is a sentence you don’t hear that often in human history, I was born Jewish. Everybody had it rough in the Soviet Union but Jews uniquely so. With religion banned Russians could still be Russians even without their church. Not so for Jews. You could take away everything that made someone Jewish, seize the synagogues, outlaw the customs, but still, in the eyes of the state, you are a people apart. Your Jewish identity, etched on all of your official documents, kept you from getting certain jobs or living in certain places. You would never be Russian- and in a place where sameness and assimilation was the law, this was a challenge. The lucky part of this unlucky-for-everyone situation is that across the world there were American Jews fighting to get us to freedom. In 1975, during the brief 1000 days Gerald Ford was president, he signed the Jackson-Vanik Amendment which used trade to pressure the Soviet Union to issue exit visas to Jews. In a blink, our situation at the bottom of the Soviet food chain was altered. We were out of there! See ya, wouldn’t want to be ya!

Except, well, things aren’t always that simple. In the time while you waited for the US to accept you, you were in a no-man’s land. It was bad being an “other” before, now there was indisputable evidence that you didn’t belong. It was a society built on the idea that everyone must have the same beliefs, belonging was key. It was tough then to be overtly happy that you were leaving, ahem, the worker’s paradise to go to that awful America where there was racism, homelessness, old people eating cat food! Friends dropped you, family who was staying behind feared you. Association with you could mark someone a traitor. Family who couldn’t or wouldn’t leave was left behind to likely never been seen again.

I try not to make these yearly posts too political, though obviously they sometimes inadvertently can be. With Russia and Israel in the news so much in the last week (if you’re reading this in the future, this was the week Russian rebels allegedly shot down a Malaysia Air passenger plane over Ukraine and Israel has launched a ground offensive in Gaza, this go-round beginning with three dead Israeli boys) I’ve been thinking more than ever about identity. I have a lot to say about both countries and their current situations but I’ve been writing and deleting my thoughts for three days now and my Americaversary post just doesn’t seem like the right time.

Identity is difficult for people like me. I was born in Russia but, frankly, I have no love for Russia at all. I have never lived in Israel but the homeland of Jews is very special to me. I want my children to be all-American while still teaching them Russian, the language of a people who hated me (and Hebrew too but that seems right). When someone asks me my background I say I’m Russian though, as I wrote above, I never was, and my father’s side of the family is from the Ukraine though at no point were they considered Ukranian either. It’s complicated.

I’ve written before about being among the luckiest Jews in history. There’s no doubt that it’s America that made us lucky. Looking around the world today I feel that more than ever. The theme in all of my Americaversary posts is gratefulness and I remain so thankful for the opportunity that made me an American (love you President Ford, mean it). The only people I consider luckier than me are the ones lucky enough to have been born here. Today that includes my two children who will never have any doubt about who they are, will never have to explain about places that don’t exist anymore or people they don’t relate to, will never feel anything but the Americans they are.

My American family:

photo (45)

My mama, who loves that t-shirt:
photo (46)

Previous July 20th posts:

2013

2012

2011

2010.

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003 (scroll down a little to July 18).

Posted by Karol at 02:24 PM |
Comments

It gets better each year. Thanks.

I have a friend/coworker from the former Soviet Empire who recently (finally) got his green card. He feels much the same as you.

I admire people like you who adopted this country. There are times when I feel that you appreciate it much more than many who were lucky enough to be born here. Would that more felt like you.

Thanks again.

Posted by: physics geek at July 22, 2014 at 2:33 pm

Well said, and happy Americaversary and many more!

Posted by: Kate P at July 22, 2014 at 4:46 pm

Happy Americaversary! Another beautiful post.

Posted by: J at July 22, 2014 at 8:43 pm

August 15, 2013

Dear Ms Karol Markowicz

I do not Tweet, because caged birds sing, and I do not show face as if booked so I use this venue to comment on your article in the Times, “My Jewish Family’s Incredible Shrinking World”. Silence was the noise when the Holocaust began.

Silence was the noise when Holocaust Survivors were “redirected” from American ports of entry. Silence the order of the day when then US Senator Obama commented he had no evidence the Holocaust ever happened. Quietly we have deserted the path almost all Americans traveled to come to live in a Nation where an ideal is held high that all people are created equal, and that no one will be held guilty of a crime without their innocence proven the lie we call guilt.

I am a Jew called in tradition to observe what is the “immigration” problem in Nogales, Arizona. I simply recognize that I am a citizen of the United States who understands that the Spaniard replete in the “torture and murder” of Jews during the Inquisition conquered Mexico to enslave the people of Central America and then to reach into North America to conquer and steal the land from people native to this place of the “New World”. For you see there are Jewish Mexican Americans.

A Jew silenced. What is liberty but to worship that which does not tolerate idolatry, murder, sodomy, or indifference to human suffering. I do have an opinion. Formed of facts, formed observing the cruel. Consolidated in personal experience this opinion I conclude to you must not be ignored. The problem at the “Border”, the “Immigration Problem” is the beast of old, come sturdy and equipped, come ready and willing, in Ferguson, Mo it is called the problem of the “militarization of policing”. In Texas it is the deployment of the Texas National Guard to do what a Texas Congressman admonished. “Do what is necessary even if it involves shooting them.”

“Them”? Or are they and who are we? What did silence win in the 1990’s when Chile annexed Bolivia and forced the people of Bolivia to not recognize Israel as a sovereign nation? Who are “they” in Argentina who are so proud that the “Holy Father” of the Catholic Church is one of them. Who were the Germans of the Odessa file who used Argentina to smuggle Nazi War Criminals out of Europe to live gracious lives in Chile and Argentinian. And what it is the silence of the lamb facing the smell of human suffering, as Jews through out the world understand that there is in this world a necessity to not lay down and be a victim.

Silence is the noise of fear. The United States is a fearful place. South and Central Americans, now citizens of the United States, men and women who recall the beauty of this world before the enterprises of the Crowns of Europe conquered and made the indigenous people slaves. Today US citizens born of cultural and family traditions so often referred to as “aboriginal”, so often today worshiping still Christ under doctrines of a Catholic church which imposed upon them in ways and means if the “Inquisitor” the belief Christ will save them. the lamb is swallowed as the people “brown” in the United States face the same challenge as the man or woman of African American heritage and the fact our prisons are full to capacity. “They” are people of color imprisoned unjustly and can I a Jew be silent as racism continues to be the standard of justice in the United States.

If afraid of a “terrorist” I am a lonely Jew at the Border as I share the Seder with Native Americans, Muslim Americans, and Mexican American Catholics. All are people who have been defined as the “problem”. Fear can not light, if hope is love.

We are alone here at the “Border”; at the “Border” in California, Texas, and New Mexico and we understand fear. We are afraid of the “American” who joins in Tea Party to deny us equality in guise of ole’ time religion. We are afraid of Joe Arpio, afraid of the National Guard,and afraid of the US Department of Homeland Security. And then when children were “housed” in a warehouse, a “jail” in Nogales, Arizona for the reason of the color of their skin we understand that Americans sweep the problem of “racial profiling” under the rug as the police in Ferguson, Mo “displayed” the latest deceased victim of the police racially profiling for hours. And the “Stickman” in the White House stands up for nothing, holding hands with Eric Holder to say all is well in the United States.

So I testify as the Mexican American Jehovah witness does in Nogales, Arizona. We live in a place where the police are the military. Where the belief liberty and justice for all has failed. And I so often walked the streets of Nogales, Arizona to stand quietly for a moment on Easter Morning to listen to the gossip among agents of the US Border Patrol as they discussed how Jews would soon be treated as guilty for their crimes against Christ and Christians. It is dangerous to be a Jew in Nogales, Arizona for I was stoned for this reason walking one day to volunteer to feed family pets left to the Humane Society that has values that exceed the values of Jan Brewer in regards to those people in Arizona who are homeless and “brown”.

The years counted, the number now counted in decades, so troubling as American Jews have been silent regarding the “Christian Revolution” in Arizona State saw John McCain forming a political alliance Joe Arpaio a man who entered the US illegally. A man grown to be powerful from a teenager who was convicted of “War Crimes”, crimes against humanity by the Interim Polish government stood to defeat the justice “Nazism” had wreaked as it destroyed Europe, murdered almost every European Jew, and astoundingly did not spare Christian, Muslim, or Buddhist.

“Be afraid of the drone, be afraid of the soldier in the green suit, be afraid the Dutch during the Second World War admonished; “for they have come to murder.” And it is what it is in Nogales. And will the mass graves in Texas claim notice in a
America that somethings never change and Sarah Palin, John McCain and the Obama Administration are cloaked in disguise as they defame Judaic Law and deny justice to those Jewish, black, brown, and we the people “colored so” are we to remain silent? Afraid to discuss the reality of Joe Arpaio, of the police turned military in the desert?

Fear Holocaust Survivor would remember you to say, do not be afraid, do not return because that was NOT a better day. That ole’ time family value is not our way, as the dead in mass graves in Texas will be repatriated the same way as children lost in time, lost on the wrong side of the “Line”, and lost to the fact that innocence binds peace to the child as we are bound to need for justice.

Please remember in “Jewish Land” the number of “brown” people from Nogales, Arizona who joined the Israeli Army during the Six Day War to defend the right of Jews to live. For those “brown” people in those mass graves were murdered, desecrated, and the skull displayed on a video at Weather.com belonged obviously to a child.

Please let Jews always remember some things must change.

Thank you for your time for if the US Congress calls me a cheese mama because I am poor, colored, a woman, in America, remember cheese mama knows what they defame, as they allow a anti Semitic to serve as Speaker of the House. No wonder that when I am afraid I understand “escape” is not a tunnel crumbling and destroying lives as the US Border Patrol will claim to have NOT “overlooked”

The profit of fascism has always been destruction and we are destroyed in all but name in Nogales as the “green suits’ enforce the law of this New World where a persons color, religion, or culture will decide their fate of not prospering, but living.

The silence can be heard in Nogales, we are grieving for our children lost to police violence. We are needing water in the desert where Arizona State Law forbids giving water and food to those thirsty and hungry in the desert. I am grieving for my Jews, let us not forget to bury the dead in honor even in Texas.

Thank you I am sure you needed a new writing experience and will come to Nogales to walk this desert where families have lived for better than a million years. Come walk the desert where time stands still. Come walk with us in grief, come speak to us of fear, and understand we are meek. Come to Arizona before you go to Texas to decry, people are people do not let the children die, do not imprison “brown ” children.

They still call me “EB”. I am a human rights advocate. Cheese mama is in Boehner and Biden’s face over the “Immigration Issue”. Do Jews have my back?

Repeal the Homeland Security Act for cowards blame, fools scapegoat, but wisdom is fear never wins nothing.

Posted by: Ethel Barina at August 15, 2014 at 9:24 am
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