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The Time Has Come

Inna Gubernik's story posted on October 03, 2012 at 2:05 pm. Inna emigrated from Moscow, Russia to California, United States in 1994

 I experienced Anti-Semitism very early on in Mitishi, Russia at an age of 8. This was at a physical education class in my school.  Being not the most athletic person I dreaded this time of the day. During one of the exercises to jump over a barrier it was finally my turn to go. I ran to it and stopped, paralyzed by fear I was unable to jump over. The teacher asked for my last name and then said, “Now I understand everything”, in front of the whole class.  This episode haunts me to this day. This is just a single event from my past “Jewish life” in Russia.

My great-grandparents, grandparents and parents experienced many forms of such Anti-Semitic behavior to a much greater extend. My grandfather, a very knowledgeable physicist, who was wounded in the WWII fighting for Russia, could not get a job because of being Jewish. My father did not get into his top choice medical school for the same reason.

My mother wanted to leave Russia from the time she was in her early 20 ‘s. When she mentioned this idea to my father he looked at her in shock and disbelieve. Over time it became very clear that we would not have a promising future if we stayed in Russia. My immediate family immigrated to Los Angeles in October of 1994. I remember saying good bye to my grandparents at the airport and not knowing when we would see each other again. 

On the next day of our arrival to Los Angeles we were invited to a Shabbat dinner at our American relative’s house. My grandfather’s cousin immigrated from Belrus to America when she was a young child and thus raised her children and grandchildren here. I remember hiding behind my mom’s skirt and peeking through as my relatives were lightening candles, blessing challah and wine. This was my very first exposure to my future Jewish life.

Over the years I attended Jewish camp in Malibu, where I learned the prayers fast so that I would fit in with all the other kids. Even thought I did not understand what I was saying it still felt very natural. My family also started attending a synagogue on major holidays and learning about our Jewish heritage. I was also an active participant in Hillel at UCSD and member of Alpha Epsilion Phi( Jewish Sorority).

After many year of planning to go to Israel, I finally went on Birthright trip in 2010. Going up to Jerusalem I felt an incredible connection with G-d that I have never experienced before. As I stood in front of the Western Wall I was overcome with so many emotions that I started crying and heard the prayers and cries of so many generations before me standing at that exact spot. At that very moment I finally understood what I have been missing.

My immigration experience had definitely made me a strong and determined person to always go after my goals. My parents stressed the importance of education and always reminded me that this is a land of many opportunities and that I need to work really hard to achieve all my goals. My educational goal has been meet and now its time to fulfill my spiritual goal of learning about my religion.  The time for that is now.