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Mother and Daughter - MyStory

Yudit Bolotovskaya's story posted on June 21, 2012 at 7:11 pm. Yudit emigrated from Moscow, Russia to Boston, United States in 1996

Written by Yudit Bolotskaya,  Camp RSM @ Sunapee Counselor-

My story may not be as exciting and memorable as others, as it went very smoothly with no complications, but I will tell it anyway. I don't really remember much from our immigration because I was only 2 years old. My family decided to move because of the anti-semitism in Russia at the time. My grandparents had moved over to the states a few years earlier and had invited my mother, Olga, and me to come. It was a very difficult decision for my mom to make at the time, because she had to chose between her freedom and social acceptance, and her childhood friends at home. Luckily, we experienced no problems with documentation for our immigration because it was already 1996, and moving to America had become much simpler than it was for our relatives. 

My mom describes her first impression of the United States as generally much bigger and wider than she had imagined. She noticed the different mentality of the people and overall a completely different culture. It was very shocking at first, but she quickly adjusted to the American lifestyle, and went to college to study Business. My mom was surprised to find that people would smile back at her on the streets and was not used to this. She was not used to the friendliness and welcoming attitude of people. Despite the stress and difficulty that immigrating caused our family, we have no regrets about coming here. 

A funny and memorable moment for my mom was when I was in the first grade. We were getting a long weekend at school and I came home excited to share the news. " Its the kings birthday, no school!" I said with great excitement. What I really meant was that we were getting a day off in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Small cultural holidays were hard to pick up because they were never mentioned or discussed at home. My family found this very funny and continue to tell this story to others. It was quite easy for me to make friends because I picked up english very quickly at my young age. For my mom, however, it was much more difficult because of the great language barrier. Since she was already in her mid twenties, it was much harder for her to learn English and speak fluently. She had a hard time at first, but slowly became more comfortable and made new friends in college. It was tough raising a kid, going to school, while also trying to immerse into a completely different culture and world. Whenever my mom reminisces about her past she remembers all of her old school friends, growing up on the Volga River in Russia, and many other significant moments in her life. Though it was hard, and stressful at times, my mother was very successful and provided me with everything I needed to be a happy American child.

At first my mother did not want to become a citizen of the United States but eventually had to file for citizenship. I did Rhythmic Gymnastics competitively throughout my whole childhood, and once I got to a higher level I had to become a citizen in order to compete. The moment when my mom finally started to feel like a true citizen of the United States was when the twin towers fell on September 11th, and immediately afterwards she lost her job. Though this was not exactly a positive experience for her, she now looks at her citizenship as an honor.

My distant relatives came from Poland to Russia and participated in the Russian Revolution of 1917. They were simple Jews from Poland, who received their education in St. Petersberg. My mother's grandmother was a mid-wife, who eventually brought the family over to Moscow to settle for good. The difference between my distant relative's being Jewish, and my being Jewish, is the fear. I have the luxury of being able to embrace and express my religion and my families roots, whereas my relatives were not given such opportunities. To me being Russian-Jewish is my identity. The Jews which came from Russia are usually very well educated, artistic,  and have stable families. Our parents and grandparents suffered a lot of trauma, and were forced to live in constant fear. However, our parents have been trying to raise us in an opposite manner, in which we can be free to be ourselves. 

After coming to Israel, after living in Russia, my mom immediately began to reestablish her jewish identity. My mom's dad is Jewish, and her mom is Orthodox christian. So in Russia my mother was considered a Jew, and in Israel she was considered not a jew. It was an interesting situation, but my mom knew what she had to do. When she arrived in Israel she began to study the Giyur for a year to convert to Judaism. "I feel the Jewishness in me" she said after successfully passing the exam. My mom took the exam as Rachel, and officially became a Jew. "Israel is my home, and I love it". My mother's story is unique in the way that she came from two contradicting backgrounds, but assimilated and combined her two sides.