Nathan Sharansky: Growing up Jewish in Ukraine

Nathan Sharansky: Growing up Jewish in Ukraine

Nathan Sharansky spoke this week at the Sheva Brachot of Benaya and Neta Dickstein’s wedding. (Benaya lost both his parents and brother, to a terrorist attack when he was just seven years old).
Sharansky shared the following to those at the Simcha.
“When I grew up in Ukraine in the city of Donetsk, there were people of various nationalities living there.
Their ID certificates had the word ‘Russian’, ‘Ukraine’, ‘Georgian’, ‘Kozaki”, it wasn’t that important and there wasn’t much of a difference. One thing was important – if it had the word ‘Jewish’ written on it, that would be as if you had some disease.
We knew nothing about Judaism, except antisemitism and hatred towards us.
That’s why no one tried to replace the word ‘Russian’ or the word ‘Ukraine’, in order to get accepted to the university. But if it you had the word ‘Jewish’ on your ID papers and you could manage to change that, your chance of getting accepted was so much higher.
I was reminded of this while watching this week how thousands of people are standing at the borders, trying to escape the tragedy in Ukraine.
They stand there day at night, and there’s only one word today that can help them get out: “Jewish”. If you are a Jew – there are Jews outside who care for you, there is someone on the other side of the border looking for you, your chance of getting out is so much higher.
The world I knew has been turned upside down. When I was a child ‘Jewish’ was an extraordinary bad word, no one was jealous of us! Today at the border of Ukraine, ‘Jewish’ is an extraordinary word for good, it describes people who have somewhere to go and there’s an entire nation – their family, waiting for them outside.
[May Hashem bless all the people of Ukraine with peace and safety and an end to this cursed war!]

Leave a Reply

RSS
Subscribe
Instagram
Join Group