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November 27, 2015 / 15 Kislev, 5776
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Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services, Project Outreach Bay Ridge Jewish Center

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Question: Has it been difficult adjusting to American life as a Jewish immigrant?



No. I came to America seven years ago from Kiev, and I am pleased to be living in this great country. Kiev was not a friendly place for Jews – often on streets and public buses we were called “zhid.” I love America, especially visiting Manhattan and Avery Fisher Hall. The hardest adjustment would have to be the status of being retired since back home I had a high position and prided myself on my work ethic.

– Elza Maktaz, chemist


No. I’ve adapted very well to American life. I enjoy the freedom and the democratic principals this country has. Here, compared to what it was like in the Soviet Union, no one pushes you and tells you how to be. It is also easier for me to be a traditional Jew here. It wasn’t pleasant being religious in Russia. Here I’m not fearful.

– Yosef Maktaz, construction engineer 


Yes. The language barrier is still a hard adjustment for me. But one of the things I admire about America is how this country takes care of its elderly. In Moscow, where I came from, seniors are often neglected and have to live with their children, but here there are many government benefits. In Moscow there was only one synagogue and you couldn’t think about being Jewish out in the open; now that I’m here I feel like a great burden is off my shoulders. In Russia I was a Soviet but not a Jew. America allows me to be both an American and a Jew.

– Nelly Straikova, physician


No. There is nothing I miss about living in Ukraine; in fact, I hated it. My family and I suffered so much, especially when the country was occupied by the Nazis and seven of my relatives were murdered. I left in 1992 and never turned back. The only difficulty of adjusting to life here is that I long to visit the graves of my relatives.

– Misha Shteerman, factory worker

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