My great-grandparents fled pogroms in Ukraine.

Britt Trachtenberg,
Long Island, NY

p>I think part of my story is about how I ended up being born with privilege in an affluent community in Long Island, while my great-grandparents immigrated from Russian-controlled areas of the Ukraine in the early 1900s. My great-grandparents sought to leave because of instances of religion-based violence– called “pogroms” in Russia. They settled in Brooklyn, where they would open a hardware store and raise two children: my grandmother and aunt. My grandmother has fond memories of working in her parents’ hardware store and often speaks to how hard her parents worked to give herself and her sister a better life in America.

“Pogrom” is a Russian word that translates to “wreak havoc” in English. Historically, there are many instances of Ukrainian and Russian Jewish people being persecuted and attacked for their religion. For example, in 1903, Kishinev became a very unsafe place for Jewish Ukrainians to live after a newspaper used the minority group as a scapegoat for the death of two children. Such statements, unfortunately, resulted in many murders and homes destroyed (Source: https://www.history.com/topics/russia/pogroms).

Today, antisemitism is still a relevant topic all over the world. Many leaders, activists, actors, and members of our communities have spoken out against antisemitism and have started movements and calls to action to create change. The movement Grassroots Jews (www.http://www.grassrootsjews.org/new-page) works to bring together communities of Jewish people through things like services, communal meals, and even food recipe suggestions for holidays. Another movement called Bend the Arc: Jewish Action (https://www.bendthearc.us/) focuses on bringing together Jewish voices in America to fight for justice and equality in chapters across the U.S. Current campaigns include petitions to stand with Jewish communities in Florida against white nationalism. Movements like the ones named above are relevant to my story as an American Jewish woman because of how antisemitism hurts my Jewish friends, family, and neighbors and how much it has hurt my relatives and people that my relatives care about.

 

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