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We All Have It In Common

Yair Tufeld's story posted on June 21, 2012 at 6:25 pm. Yair emigrated from Jerusalem, Israel to Boston, United States in 1992

The story is written by Yair Tufeld , Camp RSM @ Sunapee  Coouncelor.


Why did your family decide to emigrate, and what was your family’s immigration experience like?

As far as I know there were two major factors. They were Anti-Semitism and Jewish identity, which eventually transformed into Zionism. I also know that my Dad, who came from Moscow, was a refusenik and even spent short time in prison. He was only 20 years old and finally Soviet authorities let him go. Unfortunately his parents – my grandparents were refused and left Moscow only 12 years later. My Mom and her family came from St. Petersburg (former Leningrad).

How has your family’s transition from life in the FSU to life in the US impacted you? Consider specific examples.

I actually, as well, as my older brother and sister, was born in Israel. When I was 8 month old we came in America. Now I live in Israel again.

What has your experience been like as a first generation American living in a Russian-speaking Jewish family?

My experience has been good, I wouldn’t say there was anything out of the ordinary. There is just more options knowing more languages.

What do you know about your family’s Jewish life before they came to America? How do you think it is different now?

While in Russia both of my parents identified themselves as Jewish from the very beginning of their lives. I cannot say that their families were religious. They rather were traditional, which still weren’t easy to follow in USSR.

What do you do now, and what would you like to be doing in the future (professionally and/or in general)? Considering your family’s background, how has being a first generation American affected what you currently do, and how do you think it will affect your future?

I am considering myself as an Israeli. So I am going back to Israel at the end of August and then will be joining ZAH”AL (Israeli Defense Forces). Then I will continue with my studies.

I know that Mom’s Grandfather was a famous Theater director and a great educator. We even went to St. Petersburg (Leningrad) to celebrate 50th Anniversary of the theater he founded. My Dad’s parents were a long term refuseniks. His Mom (my Grandmother) died shortly after they arrived in Israel. My Dad’s father is a space engineer and lives in Jerusalem.

How do you think your definition of being Jewish is different from your parents, if at all?

Tradition, Religion and Zionism. All of us - my parents and my siblings - have it in common.

Can you explain what being “Russian-Jewish” means to you? If anything?

I’d rather say Jewish. I do not know much about Russia, because none of my parents considering it as their homeland. I am very grateful for America, but I live in Israel, not just because I was born there, but rather because this is my real Homeland.

Did you get any informal Jewish education from your family? Do you talk about Jewish issues at the dinner table?

I went to the Jewish school. I had Bar Mitzvah. We were celebrating all Jewish Holidays and Shabatot and almost on weekly bases my Mom took me to the Habad Synagogue in Natick. My Dad was explaining to me the situation in Israel, in particular, and in the Middle East in general. He is a journalist and for a long time used to be an Editor-In-Chief of the various Russian-Jewish newspapers including a Russian section in the oldest Jewish Newspaper in America “Forverts”.

How has your heritage helped you to develop who you are today?

I think that all my answers above explain everything...