November 26, 2010
Society celebrates its 10th
The Most-Bridge Society’s 10th anniversary celebration gave me great excitement, and many thoughts crossed my mind.
More than 30 years ago, I turned a page in my life by immigrating from the USSR. It wasn’t easy. The United States was fighting for the rights of Jews to leave for Israel, bargaining with the Soviet government, which was unfamiliar with the notion of personal freedom. The Soviets had to back off, and we left, labeled “Traitors of Motherland,” stripped of our Soviet citizenship, and with just $90 in our pockets.
I ended up in the Pacific Northwest when my plane landed in Vancouver – many thanks to the Canadian government and the Jewish community of Vancouver for their hospitality. We started getting welfare assistance; not much, but our dwelling was paid for and we were not hungry. We felt a need to communicate with other people, but that was impossible due to the language barrier. English classes cost $100 a month.
Although we were not religious, we started visiting churches and synagogues, only to be among people and socialize. Sometimes we had impromptu parties, but there was no organization whatsoever. However, at some point, a couple emerged who worked as Jewish immigrant leaders within the community, but their activities stopped within a couple of years. Then another leader emerged, Joseph Polissky. He got a permission to found a society aimed at bringing Russian Jews together under its umbrella.
I participated in the first meeting of the society. Remembering the failures of other attempts to do the same, I was not sure of its future, but nevertheless became an active member. At the meetings, I was reading Russian poetry, helped to organize an excursion to Seattle and wrote articles for the Jewish Western Bulletin (now the Jewish Independent). Regrettably, due to my age – I am 88 – my activities have become limited.
To appreciate the Most-Bridge Society’s significance in our lives, I would like to repeat what I wrote in an August 2005 issue of the Bulletin: “It is impossible to underestimate the fact that we are being literally pulled out of our apartments located throughout Greater Vancouver, and brought together to celebrate holidays and other significant events. This is nothing but a bridge from the present to the past, when, regardless of age, we feel a desire to sing and dance together. For this to happen, it is not enough just to want it, you have to be in particularly special settings, and those settings are what the society brings us.”
Ekaterina Chernyavskaya is a member of the Most-Bridge Society. This article was translated byIda Gitlina.