I love to read. In fact, I make a point to read every day. There is something magical about escaping in the pages of a good book. Occasionally I come across a book that not only provides me that escape, but also proves to be transformative.

Based on a recommendation (thank you Marilyn!), I recently read A Backpack, a Bear, and Eight Crates of Vodka. This book told ~ with incredible humor and personal reflection ~ the story of Lev Golinkin and his family’s exodus from Russia. You can read more about the book by clicking here.

As I turned each page, I was quickly reminded of the Federations’ efforts to help Jews emigrate from the former Soviet Union in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Over 300,000 Soviet Jews immigrated to the United States, including some right here in Dayton. While Lev and his family did not end up in Dayton, they weren’t too far ~ their first year was spent in West Lafayette, Indiana.

This book reminded me of the time I spent as a volunteer in the Tampa Jewish community advocating for the rescue of the Soviet Jews. I am so proud to have supported such an important cause. However, it isn’t until you hear someone tell their personal story that the gravity of the situation becomes completely real. As I read A Backpack, a Bear, and Eight Crates of Vodka I was reminded of the individual trials and stumbling blocks so many Soviet Jews endured during their exodus.

As I read about one exodus, I began thinking about Passover and the celebration of the Jews’ exodus from Egypt. When I read the Haggadah, I am reminded of the trials and stumbling blocks so many Jews experienced thousands of years ago.

Chag Sameach to you and your family!




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