June 21, 2016


In the USSR I was a Jew in a sea of Russians. In America, I am just me (Margarita Gokun Silver,  21 June 2016, tHE gUARDIAN)

My parents quit their two stable, engineering jobs; we left behind our apartment and everything we'd accumulated during our life in Moscow. We boarded the plane with two suitcases and $80 each. For my parents - much more sober than I was about the prospects of relocating to another culture, another language and another political system - the move was a gamble.

For me it was a dream. Not only was I leaving behind the constant stream of antisemitic slurs thrown either directly at me or printed in the Soviet press, but I was also discarding the notion that my future was tied to the engineering realm. In the USSR the profession of an engineer was the most accessible career path for Jews. There was no question in my parents' minds that I'd follow suit - just like they did and their parents did before them. And even though I hated engineering, there was no question in my mind either. I knew there wasn't much I could do about it.

On arrival to the United States I quickly learned that the sky was the limit. My US passport - unlike my former Soviet one - didn't list my ethnic origin. It didn't preclude me from entering professions deemed too dangerous to entrust to Jews. I went into a field that required me to travel abroad, a feat either never or rarely afforded to Jewish citizens in the USSR. No longer a Jew among a sea of Russians, I was now like everyone else. I was an American.

Posted by at June 21, 2016 7:03 PM