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Kirill Reznik

Daniel Barg's story posted on September 19, 2012 at 8:07 am. Daniel emigrated from Kiev, Ukraine to Miami Beach, United States in 1978

Kirill Reznik’s Story

by Daniel Barg

Being a legislator is a great honor. It is even more of an honor and privilegewhen you are the first Ukrainian born legislator in Maryland, as well as just thesecond Soviet born legislator in the United States. My name is Kirill Reznik, andI have been in the Maryland House of Delegates since 2007, representing District39, located in Northern Montgomery County. I am a member of the Health andGovernment Operations Committee, working to get Marylanders health care andmedical insurance every day when I come to work. I am extremely proud of myfamily, my work, and my life in Maryland, , especially because I came from humblebeginnings.

I was born in Kiev, Ukraine in 1974 and immigrated to the United States in1978 at the age of four. My family and I first came to Miami Beach, Florida, where Igrew up. My parents, like so many other immigrants, had to start by doing low wagework. Though they had been respected professionals in their home country – mymother was an architect and my father was a dental technician, they started anew ina foreign place because they wanted a better life with better opportunities for theirkids. Life was difficult at first. My mother waited tables before getting a job as anarchitect, a job that paid about the same as the waitressing job. My father worked ina dental laboratory, but was paid very little. In South Florida, not having money waseven more difficult, because there was almost no public transportation in the area.Eventually, my father taught my mother the work of a dental technician, andtogether, they opened their own laboratory. Through all of their hard work, myparents ended up instilling strong values in my brother and me, teaching that hardwork is necessary to succeed. Through my work representing constituents, I haveseen this dedication to hard work amongst many of the immigrants that come to theUnited States.

Adapting to a new environment in South Florida had its challenges. Such ascoming home from school, and being asked by my mother what we had for lunch,like all Russian-Jewish mothers are prone to, the reply, “gorachaya sobaka”, a literaltranslation of “hot dog”, caused immediate panic. When our neighbor, an OrthodoxRabbi, found out that my parents were not planning on having a Bar Mitzvah for mybrother because we didn’t have the money and didn’t have much connection to ourJewish culture at the time, he found this unacceptable. My mother often uses thephrase “kidnapped” as a joke, but needless to say, the Rabbi showed up on aSaturday and hurried my brother off to the synagogue for a service.

Though these and many other experiences made for an interesting, andsometimes difficult childhood, I realized at an older age that we immigrants shouldembrace what’s different about our families, because we are going to miss thesekinds of memories later. Even to this day, I love my mother’s cooking, but thatis mainly because I miss it. Though our backgrounds are different from other

Americans, whether they are U.S.-born or emigrated from other parts of the world,that difference is what makes our country so great. We need to celebrate thatdiversity, learn from each other, and use those experiences to better ourselves.

I have been able to hold on to the Russian language reasonably well, though Iuse it rarely these days. I have my grandfather to thank for that. When my parentswere out working and my brother was out with friends, he was there. I am a verystrong proponent of encouraging polyglotism, both in everyday life and as alegislator who cares about the future of Maryland and the United States. In a worldthat is getting smaller every day, success in business, politics, and life, often dependson being able to communicate with people from all over the world. During mycollege years at Florida International University, I was hired as an intern at the U.S.Agency for International Development, in part because of those language skills. In2008, when the Democratic Party was looking for a surrogate for Barack Obama’scampaign to speak to Russian communities and on Russian radio, I got the call.

As a politician, I have been disappointed in the lack of participation of theRussian-Jewish community in politics. Though I believe this is changing some, I findthat the old fears about getting involved with government because of our collectivepast history, is still lingering. I’ve been trying to overcome some of those concerns,but a lot of work still needs to be done. Our democracy in the United States onlysurvives because people chose to participate. Being involved in our community,educating yourself about issues, voting, and participating in the political process, arekey to making sure that we will not be ignored or manipulated. Of course, teachingour children to do all of those things, so that they can carry on the tradition, is thatmuch more important.

To learn more about me and the work I do in the Maryland legislature, pleasefeel free to visit my website at

That is my story, and I would like to thank HIAS and the Brin Family forputting this project together. These stories will be a resource for generations tocome.