Back to Written Stories

image of author

Leikin Emigration - Believe in the Unlikely

Hannah Leikin's story posted on June 20, 2012 at 1:14 pm. Hannah emigrated from Leningrad, Soviet Union (USSR) to St. Louis, United States in 1975

At the age of seventeen, my father convinced his family to move to the United States in order to to escape religious persecution and further his education.

 Overall, having foreign parents has done nothing but enrich my life with history, culture, and traditions. Living in a Jewish Russian-speaking household has given my life more texture, letting me live in both the Russian and American communities.

 My father was exposed to Judaism all of his life but in the USSR it was all done in secret. Today, in Newton, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs are as public and as frequent as Red Sox games. Because my parents are immigrants, they are more willing to take chances and believe in the unlikely. I am persuing a career in Film which is obviously risky.

 They are supportive because they know what it's like to go far out on a limb. In terms of my family's roots, I know that my father comes from a working class family (based in Leningrad) and my mother comes from a very wealthy family (based in Odessa). The difference between my take on Judaism and that of my parents is that my definition does not necessarily involve God.

 Being a Russian-Jew is kind of an oxymoron if you think about it because Russia was never a home for the Jews. That being said, I love being a Russian Jew. We frequently discuss Judaism and the issues that go along with that at the dinner table. My heritage has made me a more realistic and grateful person. I know how hard it is to be openly Jewish in some parts of the world and I am so thankful that it is widely accepted where I live (in Newton).