Marina Berkovich, Author

Writer, Poet, Filmmaker

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I am a survivor of socialism and I blog here whenever I feel like it, sharing the truth and insights of being a hostage to socialism for the first 18 years of my life and having the courage to escape it.

I have journeyed from behind The Iron Curtain to FREEDOM and I will never give it up! 

I write about my experiences, past and current, through my life, my eyes, my heart. I hope you find something that will resonate with you. If not now, maybe in the future.

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Into The Unknown

Posted by Marina B on May 29, 2022 at 5:45 PM Comments comments (0)

 

According to the highest rabbinical authorities, I recently heard that words, like the DNA nucleotides, are what our Universe is built from.

Quite often, at certain times eerily so, I find that what I hear from esteemed scientists and theologians not only resonates within me, concurring with their thoughts, but is in the depth of my intrinsic nature and has been there since my very beginnings.

The Hindus say that a child remembers his/her past lives, so we should patiently listen to their stories to learn what they brought back into this world on this rotation. In my own childhood, for instance, I often said that I imagine a week like an opened school diary we had in the USSR. When it unfolded, each school week had six days, three on each left and right pages. We attended school six days then and there was no room for Sundays in the school diary, since no assignments needed to be recorded, no scolding remarks or grades were entered on Sundays by the ever so severe school teachers, who on weekdays would call on us unexpectedly to answer whatever we were called to answer, be it algebra or foreign language or even gym, and then enter the marks for our performance into our individual journals. We had to have parent’s signature at the end of each week, and most of us learned to forge those very early on.

It’s either I never imagined what a month looked like or just accepted the vision of it from one or another monthly table calendar I espied somewhere. Nothing interesting about it.

But a year I clearly and distinctly envisioned like a step in my lifelong staircase, From my current step I can look down and see everything in my past or even broader. Yet when I attempt to look up, everything is blurry and I am enveloped in the fog of unpredictability.

Too bad my adults paid no attention to any of this…perhaps I had valuable lessons from my past lives I could have imparted…and helped them and me…

Later, perhaps by my thirty-fifth year, I started envisioning my circle of acquaintances and scope of tasks as an onion, which I would peel at New Year’s Eve, shelling off all the unnecessary baggage I wanted to dispose of and not take into the next step. Sometimes I succeeded quickly, sometimes, it took painfully long time and repetition of hurt left deep wounds on my soul and heart.

 

Several decades later, after living an intuitive life and often a time being ridiculed for my insights and predictions by the people I trusted most and/or wanted the most feedback and approval from, I no longer care one way or another about their opinions, because I believe that I have always known better, and should have not wasted years on some of those failed or fake friendships and other relationships, including those with blood relatives.

I am standing on my sixtieth step of my lifelong staircase. What I see up ahead of me are days filled with quality of thought and endeavor, attainment of hitherto unattained goals and confidence.

In my childhood and youth many tried to divert me off my path by destroying my confidence. Over the past quarter of the century I learned to shell off regrets an

move forward with a lighter heart. I still learn lessons. I still ache for some of my past dreams, but I value the future differently now that I welcome the fog of the unknown. It has been kinder to me than most of my family or friends.

In the USSR, when I first thought of this stairway, I did not know of Led Zeppelin’s song “Stairway to Heaven” nor would I have been able to comprehend its meaning. It was written in 1971, when I was 10. I think by then I already visualized my stairway. It did not look much like this one in the picture. It was very dirty at the bottom, but got cleaner as I progressed through life. Perhaps, I was leaving some of the mud behind.

 

This year I once again feel compelled to shell off the unneeded things, tasks, even people. No offense to anyone, we just were meant to know one another unto this point, perhaps. Or maybe we have another point of connectivity later on, I can’t quite know, but I feel it is important to free my mind from some of the extra load. And this year I’m doing it by mid-year again. Good luck to me!

 

 

Over the bones of history

Posted by Marina B on March 14, 2022 at 7:00 PM Comments comments (0)

My favorite writing style of reading while in my teens was feuilleton. Originally, a feuilleton was a supplemental section of the political portion of French newspapers, consisting chiefly of non-political news and gossip, literature and art criticism, a chronicle of the latest fashions, and epigrams, charades and other literary trifles.

In the early USSR, feuilleton newspaper genre was very popular and gained special status during the NEP (New Economic Policy) years, when the criticism once again was directed against capitalists.

What was happening in the post WWI and post-revolutionary years in Russia, from 1918-1922, was starvation and disease.

In his work FAMINE AND EPIDEMIC CRISES IN RUSSIA, 1918-1922: THE CASE OF SARATOV, its author, S. G. Wheatcroft, quotes an American demographer Frank Lorimer, who estimated that 14 million civilians died in Russian between 1918 and 1926, majority between 1918 and 1922, The Civil War Years.

The French demographer Professor Jean-Noël Biraben, Wheatcroft continues, had estimated that in 1918-1920 mortality from famine and disease was about 4 million above normal for the civil population, and that in the last three months of 1921 and the first six months of 1922 famine covering two-thirds of the country resulted in the deaths of 5 million people.

These studies were done in the 1980’s as part of Famine Studies.

Lenin, a person credited with Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 and superior intelligence by the contemporary Marxists worldwide, realized just 3 long years into appropriation, redistribution and governance by proletarians, that things could not remain status quo, establishing a temporary provision of NEP in 1921, i.e. allowing the small business proprietors to reestablish or reinvent all the best of capitalism and free markets that had been sacrificed to the revolutionary bloodbath with its proverbial baby. The newly formed state, USSR, continued to control banks and means of production. Large ‘businesses’ remained under state control.

By then, about 2 million people, aka White Russians, fled the country to settle in various parts of the world, including China, Australia and Argentina. Relatively large numbers of them settled in Europe, USA and Canada.

The NEP proprietors were numerous. They began from nothing, but due to their good business skills and negotiations acumen advanced their business ventures quickly. Of course, as difficult times always prove, for each success story, there are a few charlatans. Like capitalist small business operators – restaurateurs, coffee-shop keepers and such, the charlatans got equal opportunity in the feuilleton pages. Some very famous Soviet Era writers emerged from the pages of their criticism of the NEP years and continued to be beloved for decades, criticizing Hitler on his march through Europe and the Soviet workers for their lack of enthusiasm, patriotism, camaraderie, marital faithfulness – whatever.

In many ways, the retraining of USA, Canada and Europe into the Marxist socialist ideologies – not in that order – is/will be following the same pattern. First, a bloodless revolution. Then years of civilian protest/grudges. Next, forcible subjugation through the combination of brainwashing of the young, elimination of the old through diseases, economic depletion of necessities, financial crises and devaluation of money and starvation. Next, reintroduction of allowable deviations from socialism and severe criticism of everything – successes and failures, alike.

That feuilleton genre and its various successors and variations strive to expose the many social problems of the society without proposing any legitimate or viable solutions.

Beginning in 1920, the USSR/Lenin also realized that the revolution is not going to survive without the involvement of the foreign capital. That lasted 10 years and provided a fertile diversion from the multitude of domestic problems. By the time it was over in 1930, Stalin’s reign had unleashed a slew of unfixable problems stemming from irreconcilable expectations and needs of socialist policies and economics. At least 3.5 million people died during the collectivization program in Ukraine known as Golodomor in Russian, 1.5 million in Kazakhstan and tens of millions perished in Gulag in the 1930s.

One cannot, imho, understand today’s war in Ukraine without understanding the entire history of the region and the evolution of Ukraine into its own state as USSR collapsed in 1991.

Only historians who have kept detailed track of 1918-1922 and 1991-present Ukrainian history will be able to present the timeline of events and the foreign involvement at each of the two recent periods in time when Ukraine asserted the possibility of independence.

Russia, under its current leadership, is an undisputed successor to things Soviet Socialist, and Russian people have been propagandized alike the Soviet Era propaganda I remember so well.

But so, in many ways were Ukrainian people. Except, they were not committing genocide of Russians. They “genocided” the Russian language and Russian history out of Ukraine through extreme revisionism. To equate that to factual genocides, or to use that as a justification to the dystopian destruction of civilization and peace in Ukraine is criminal.

But it also is criminal, on the part of the West, to deprive ordinary Russian civilians of the few capitalist conveniences and gains. Perhaps, even the oligarchs, but I do not want to deal with those here. The ordinary Russians who had a few hundred dollars or euros in their foreign currency accounts they save for trips abroad or rainy day or whatever, now have these funds frozen with no guarantees of return. And most of them will be unemployed and very soon. Who’s to say that PayPal will not do what GoFundMe just did in Canada? Or something similar, bypassing the rights of actual owner of funds…

The time will come soon, with all the current dollar printing, that even the money stashed in our grandmother’s bras will become worthless. Do you have a plan? What would you do, if where you live now will become like Kiev of Moscow?

As for me, I will be writing feuilletons about the social problems in our society. WWIII has started, time to drive less and write more about the ugly things people are doing everywhere. Mercilessly.

 


Being "Russian"

Posted by Marina B on March 3, 2022 at 7:15 PM Comments comments (0)


 

For the past 42 years since I arrived to USA as a stateless refugee from the USSR, I have been fighting to preserve the integrity of my story. I am NOT from Russia. I never lived in Russia. I’ve visited Russia for a total of 4 times, adding up to less than 1 month. Last time last summer, and Moscow and Saint Petersburg impressed me by their change from my prior, 1979, visit.

Immediately upon my arrival to USA in 1980, Americans began calling me a Russian, and I could not dissuade them. They “knew better” and I was a lowly stateless refugee. In my very dismal English of that time, I attempted to insist that I was from the Soviet Union, call me ex-Soviet. It was very important to me then, and continues to be important to this day, because it is incorrect to call me Russian. I never was.

My native language is Russian and I am from the very first Russian city ever, Kiev.

For 42 years I had to explain to Americans where it is, practically on the daily basis.

In the USSR, where our passports were stamped with identifier in line #5 of what was called “nationality,” I had a word “Jewish” even though it did not mean religion. Religion was outlawed for every such nationality then – Russians and Ukrainians could not practice their religion just as Jews or Poles or others. Nationality as such was established during the 1933 Stalin’s passport reform in order to begin special population control programs and repopulate Gulag with those opposing the regime.

I grew up in Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, one of 15 such republics that made up the USSR and of its two complete initials namesakes. The other one was Uzbekistani Soviet Socialist Republic, from which thousands were also arriving to USA in the 1970’s, predominant majority of all of us USSR refugees then, Jewish. Most USSR European Jews never knew anything about their Jewishness. Their families were persecuted for it and they were afraid to pass it on. I knew of being Jewish predominantly through extreme anti-Semitism I was subjected to since the age of 4. So, I never wanted to be called Ukrainian. Ukraine and many of its people hurt me too deeply.

Americans then did too, because they did not want to bother learning our specifics and that label “Russians” became firmly attached to anyone who communicates in the Russian language or hails from many of the former Soviet Republics. So Belorussian and Moldovan were Russians and so were Latts and Lithuanians and Goergians and Uzbeks and Kazakhs. And so it was until 1991, when Soviet Union, USSR, was no more.

In 1995, when I was organizing the reunion of my former USA student compatriots, I just called it "Russian reunion" - that was not a strategic battle, I conceded.

When my USA passport expired, however, and I went to receive a new one in 1997, the clerk at the passport office in Downtown Manhattan tried to correct my “Place of Birth” response from "USSR" to “Ukraine”. I insisted that USSR was my place of birth and it should be entered in my renewed passport just as it was in my original USA passport. We went over it many times, before at last I asked to see his supervisor. This man was substantially better informed on geopolitical composition of the world and sincerely tried to help me. I think, I may have not been his first customer who encountered this problem, but I was the first one unwilling to easily accept the abandonment of USSR from the list of birthplaces of naturalized American citizens. He finally called a higher up. I was not privy to their exchange. The result was this explanation “USSR in not in the computer, we can no longer use it.” I recall walking away, barely able to compose myself. It was very unfair that a former refugee from the USSR was barred from entering that county on her passport’s place of birth.

The Koreans and Vietnamese possibly have gone though the same, but I knew a few born in Palestine Palestinians who did not. I wonder if some other Africans did, however, because everything there has been rearranged a few times over.

Government decided to give me another birth country “Ukraine”, and I could not accept it in good consciousness for years. It was as if they marred me with a label similar to that of Nationality Line #5 of my very first passport, the USSR one.

Many with whom I shared this story say “Who cares?” or “It’s nonsense, why should it matter?”

Well, to some the labels on their clothing matter more than the labels in their passports. To others, their sexual orientation, or gender identity, or …the list is long. My place of birth matters to me, because I was born in and surrendered my Soviet citizenship in Kiev, the capital of Soviet Ukraine, the Mother of all Russia.

Today is March 3, 2022. Russia is at war with Ukraine.

I no longer have to say to Americans “I’m from Kiev, like in Chicken Kiev.” Every generation is able to find it now.

The news reporters struggle to pronounce the Ukrainian spelling of it, Kyiv. The “y” should be read like “I” in dim sum and the “i” in Kyiv should be read like the second of the double “i” in skiing. Everyone messes it up.

American-born Ukrainians correct my Russian way of spelling of Kiev, while I fight to preserve the integrity of my journey through life.

I had some Americans ask me if Kyiv and Kiev were two different cities, because they have been to Kiev when it was the USSR and now they cannot understand the spelling change.

And now this, as Americans are very busy pouring Russian vodkas down the actual, not proverbial, drain, even though most of these vodkas are distilled in Finland or Estonia, the cancel culture and the worst of the Ukrainian nationalist apparatus have begun to chase and persecute Russian residents of the United States like their great grandparents persecuted Jews of Ukraine in very scary and very famous pogroms. See Fiddler on the Roof, if you haven’t.

I have heard of some backlash, like Ukrainians with Yellow-Blue flag driving by the homes of neighboring Russians yelling hateful and even threatening things into their yards. In USA we are supposed to be equal and devoid of bullying and carrying out vendettas.

But I have already experienced it before.

I remember a concert of famous Soviet Pop stars on my alma mater campus of Queens College, New York in the summer of 1982.

USSR had invaded Afghanistan on Christmas Day 1979 and the Afghan students, who never backlashed at any of us former Soviets, had gathered by Aaron Copland auditorium and guilt-tripped many of the “Russian” students who already had tickets into joining them in throwing rotten eggs and tomatoes onto the heads of those brave concert-goers who dared to go through those gallows.

I got in. Because even then I knew that artists should not be punished for their county’s political behavior. Later, those “Russian” students attended many other Soviet artists' performances in NY and other cities. Afghan students never organized such protest again. At least not while I was a student there. I was and remain suspect of who was organizing whom. KGB? CIA? FBI? Were they involved/

As Hillary Clinton would say dismissively later about another US involvement in the world, what difference does it make?

The main concern of any political power is personal gain made on the destruction of civilization as we know it, and I am so very glad that in USA we still have measures to protect its citizens from most dangerous displays of hatred.

Most of the time.

 

 

 

 

Socialist Cannibalism

Posted by Marina B on January 26, 2022 at 6:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Last night, on a recommendation of a friend who understands the disastrous results of believing that socialism works that have plagued the world ever since that concept’s conception, I tuned to Amazon Prime to watch Cannibal Island, a 2009 or 2011, depending on where the referencing appears, documentary by Nicolas Werth, who has originally became interested in this little known story of 6,000 of Stalin’s “discards of society” because his great uncle was one of them.

They were, for the most part, the unsuspecting people in Moscow, Leningrad and other major cities, whom the NKVD rounded up in 1933, as part of societal cleansing, transported to and abandoned on the uninhibited island in Siberia…

I could end here, and those who understand the horrific implication of the year of 1933 in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, would already be terrified. But if I also add that 2,000 of these people were criminals and 4,000 were ordinary people, among them girls as young as 12 and 1 woman who actually gave birth on this God-forsaken island.

1933 was also the year of Golodomor in Ukraine, following socialist collectivization.

The year of razkulachivanie, or de-privatization of the peasant, when all their material possessions, including livestock and even planting seed were continually confiscated and they were forcibly resettled eastward.

The year of new order passports, The USSR decree of April 22, 1933 About the Issue of Passports to the USSR Citizens in the territory of the USSR declared that all citizens at least sixteen years old residing in cities, towns, and urban workers' settlements, as well as those residing within 62 miles of Moscow and Leningrad, within fifty 31 miles of Kharkov, Kiev, Minsk, Vladivostok, Rostov-on-Don or within the hundred-kilometers of western border of the USSR were required to have a passport with propiska, a permanent residency stamp. (Read more about propiska in My Life through My Dresses, I explained it in detail.). Within these areas passports were the only valid personal identification documents. And if one did not have a passport on them, the NKVD were ordered to arrest and deport the people, regardless of who they were. And NKVD eagerly did, organizing special check-points and detaining people who, for instance, simply ran downstairs in their slippers to get tobacco from the corner store or milk for the infant they left upstairs. Many were transients, who were just passing through a major city and made a fast run from the stopped train to the station buffet to buy bread or pirozhkis, a commonplace affair in those days for long-distance train-travellers. Without passports on them, they were rounded up and shipped away.

I have always known that during that era people disappeared without a trace, I know countless references in post-perstroika books and film, but also from the oral family lore. I was mainly always concerned with those who were forced to die from Golodomor right in the heart of the wheat-wealthy Ukraine, or young girls who disappeared off the streets of major cities if they chanced to walk alone at night. The Black Crow (NKVD vehicles) snatched them for the high-echelon Communist Party players’ rapes and they were never seen again or their bodies found.

I also knew of Siberian cannibalism.

In the vastness of the land and harshness of its terrain, extra food to carry on long on-foot trips was necessary, but the extra weight could mean death to the carrier. So, for the last several centuries, criminals who served out in Siberia but dared to escape, brought their human livestock with them. Two or three men, escaping in a group, would bring another, an unsuspecting and completely unarmed one, with them, for emergency food. It is very gruesome, but very well-known to Russians now. Most likely, was not so in the 1930s.

 

Following their detention on or around May 1, i.e. the holiday of May Day, International Workers Day… these 6,000 humans were sent to a labor camp very much, like the soon to come to existence Nazi concentration or labor camps everyone is familiar with through history or their depiction in films like Schindler’s List and A Beautiful Life, but much much worse! Everything is worse in Siberia given its temperature, wildlife predators and immenseness. In that Soviet camp, the top admin was not prepared to absorb a four-barge load of humans into his domain, so in his evil wisdom, he decided that to dump them on a desert island without food. The situation quickly escalated to cannibalism, like within 24 hrs, becasue they were already starved in transit. The criminals began to hunt the ordinary folk for food. In the end, the numbers of those who disappeared were astronomic. Perhaps 1 in 5 lived to tell the story, but they were not permitted to. They were fact-checked by the communist party and it was determined that the story was already verified by other “independent fact-checkers” and is false. That is why they were never released, never allowed to return to the European part of the USSR, so that they would not spread the truth…they were sent on to other camps, jails, wherever their presence could be kept secret.

Since hearing the story last night, images of unfathomable cannibalistic atrocities are haunting me. Never had I ever heard details that horrific. Never could I ever have imagined them on my own, even though I am filled with stories of the Holocaust and WWII survivals and some of them are of unimaginable cruelty.

In 2022 - the vaccination passports seemed unfathomable just 2 years ago. No one in their right mind should desire them for any human after watching this exceptional documentary, that was made before our 2020s era of fear of government and blind compliance to its demands, as conveyed to the unsuspecting and trusting masses by highest, high, medium and low level execs and admins, who are busy creating their own forms of cannibalistic experimentation through acts not dissimilar from those of 1930’s USSR.

In a man eat man world – who would you be?

Cold War II Turkey Day

Posted by Marina B on November 24, 2021 at 6:05 PM Comments comments (0)

On the eve of 2021 Thanksgiving Day, as I count my personal blessings, I am concerned and worried.

I awoke last Monday to the news that JBWH is gearing up to deploy US troops to a conflict between my former countries, the USSR successor states of Ukraine and Russia, a conflict that is, in its current incarnation, over a decade deep, in which USA has no presence. Should have no presence. Yet the JBWH doesn't give…

After the shameful withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, the death of our service men and women, and the abandonment of hundreds of US nationals and US collaborators, you’d think that JBWH would be remorseful and hiding the face it lost in shame. Girls and women of Afghanistan will be forcibly hiding theirs. If they still have their faces or heads, for that matter.

JBWH respects no history lessons. The motivation is self-evident and as ancient as the world. Trailing the money is not what I will focus on right now.

I will focus on Cold War II. Because that’s what the presence of US troops in Ukraine means. The naval ships that have been reported by BBC and other European networks over the past month were just a prelude to the long drawn-out battle of the remnants of the once great empires. Even the Soviets were smarter than that!

Who desires such war, you may be asking?

Ask no more. It is clearly visible from afar. JB does!

While USA will be focusing its remaining, already significantly drained resources, on protecting the semi-evil Ukraine from the semi-evil Russia, the truly evil China will complete what it has been so successfully bringing to US – the economic crash.

So, as you sit down with your turkey dinners blaming the white men (people) for killing the Indians, and watching football despite your empty promises to never again watch the biased NFL, thank your lucky stars for your American births, for your American childhoods, for your American prosperity and for your American ignorance.

Yes!!! Your American ignorance is why you are still sitting on your ass watching TV, when you have already surrendered pretty much the best of what this country stood for to its worst enemies – the drug dealers, the looters, the cheaters, the invaders, the destroyers or just apathetic bystanders who are not at all concerned with jeopardy the largely irreversible future of this great nation is being placed in.

In the USSR there were many underground political jokes that the desperate people of the USSR fed upon when life became unbearable. One could lose one’s freedom for telling a joke, but we all still shared our favorites with our trusted circles, even though in these trusted circles there were people we really should not have trusted. The mental, emotional, economic and political corruption was so prevalent that people were selling their friends and relatives to the always eager to buy authorities… The government JB admin says is your best friend – never is!!!

Anyhow, the famous joke of my youth had Brezhnev pretending the train was still moving when in reality he was inside a train car, disconnected from the engine and without rails.

Pretending that we are still moving forward? Yes, I think we are.

I was never good at pretending.

Had I been good at it, I would have wanted to be on stage or in film.

I am what I am.

Just like those early pilgrims, who sought and found refuge in the wretched desolate land of what we know as Plymouth Rock in 1620. Five centuries back!

Can we even imagine what their journey and settlement was like?

I think not.

I think what we see at the mention of it is Hollywood’s best depictions of that era.

I think that what transpired in reality was something more palpable, more ordinary.

How to feed the children.

How to stay dry.

How to stay healthy and strong.

Their extraordinary decision to cross the Atlantic and settle on this wild continent is a HUGE cause for celebration and ALL Americans, regardless of race or religion, should celebrate it together, because for better or for worse, we are bound as one on that day in 1620, and we thank our lucky stars, that we were not the ones going through those hardships.

It is often thrown into our white faces now that had it not been for the white conquerors, the Indians would have not been conquered. To that I respond with my mom’s answer to my teen desires to have been born in the 19th century – she said, you would not be able to sit in front of your favorite TV channel watching your favorite TV show and eating your favorite ice-cream.

Happy Thanksgiving Day, Americans!

Don't make it about Cold Turkey or Cold War – be warm and loving and thankful!

And pray that things don’t take a turn for the worse.

 

 

Three Romances by Alexander Goldstein to Lyrics of Marina Berkovich

Posted by Marina B on October 2, 2021 at 6:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Photo in Voronezh with Victora, Alexander, Anastasia and Natalya B. 

A book of my Russian poetry was published two decades ago. And, unbeknownst to me, my very busy husband, Maestro Alexander Goldstein, has been secretly dreaming of composing a cycle of Russian Romances, a very beautiful romantic genre of songs, to some of my lyrical poems.

The sequestration of the covid months has shifted his schedule and allowed him to compose and rehearse with a singer, who coincidentally, shares his last name. They did it long distance, without me ever catching them in that act - lol - even as Alex and I work together and are in each other's space all the time.

The result was a cycle of five romances, three of which were performed in the very special summer concert, featuring Victoria Goldshteyn-Dmitrieva (Spoiler: Goldstein and Goldshteyn is the same last name if spelled in Russian but she is not related to Alexander)

The premiere concert was in Moscow, on July 15, 2021, and with all the travel restrictions and challenges of this trying time, my husband made certain I received a Russian visa to attend the premiere, while holding on to the secrecy of it, until he could no longer.
42 years after I left the USSR and I promise to blog about it after the 3 videos are released, so please stay tuned, i was back in Moscow, a much improved and mau I say, relaxed, city.

The premiere was at the home-museum of Leo Tolstoy on Prechistenka, one of the famous streets in the center of Moscow. LEO TOLSTOY as in War and Peace! Imagine my excitement? Me, a girl from school 187 in Kiev USSR ends up at the premiere of her romances at Leo Tolstoy's home! Does it get any better? Yes! They let me sit at his desk! Yes, Victoria was singing divinely! Yes, Alex wrote gorgeous music that made my poetry - and even if I knew every word of it, as you can imagine - it made my poetry move me and many in the audience to tears.

After the premiere, we went down the street to have dinner at the rooftop of one of the premiere restaurants in Moscow, Voronezh. At 9:30 it was still light enough to see the nearby Kremlin and the magnificent Church of Christ The Savior, which was not there during my living in the USSR (details later, I promise).

All three romances are now edited and are residing on my YouTube Channel as well as my author page on Facebook.

 

To Be a Wandering Jew

Posted by Marina B on July 31, 2021 at 8:30 PM Comments comments (0)

I spent half a month in Russia in July 2021. Last time I spent more than a couple hours there was 42 years ago.

 

On the three planes there and back, as well as while I travelled around Moscow and Saint Petersburg and in between these two magnificent Russian cities, I pondered on the meaning of Motherland to me, who in the eyes of the rest of the world is and will forever be a Wandering Jew.

 

Let’s get back to the source. I am a Jewish girl, born in Soviet Union in the highly anti-Semitic city of Kiev. I’ve met people, who are Jews of my generation and grew up in Kiev, who told me I’m wrong and they never experienced anti-Semitism in Kiev. Either they have blocked their memories or are so thick skulled that they never understood what was prevalent in the city of Mendel Beilis and Babi Yar.

 

Motherland! The songs I loved to sing about it are still haunting me. My motherland, the USSR, is no more. Ukraine as a country is a concept so unacceptable to me as a candidate for my Motherland that I cringe.

 

I am a Russian-speaking Jewish girl. Kiev always spoke Russian. For God’s sake – it is the Mother of ALL Russia! Always was and will never cease being it. I love the fact that I am from Kiev. I take pride in it, largely, from knowing that it is the mother of all Russia. I know its history and its pain and I feel a part of it even now, more than four decades after it expelled me – a Jew, an outsider, a religious freedom-seeker.

 

That’s how my Wandering Jew days unfolded. I undertook a journey to Israel as a fib, a legend, anything to get out of the Soviet Union with its suppression of truth, its socialist ideological farce, and its crude angry masses. I did not know enough about being a Jew, or Israel or anything then, when I was a girl who became a traitor to her USSR Motherland in order to “reunite with” fictional relatives in the historical homeland of the Jewish People – Israel, whose Forth Prime Minister, incidentally, was a woman named Golda Meir, also from Kiev.

 

Is historical homeland synonymous with motherland? I kept asking myself all though my trip to The Russian Federation, the technical successor of the USSR, but not my technical country of birth, therefore not a contender in my motherland quest. Not even a former homeland. Except as a Russian-language poet, I grew up admiring another Jewish Russian poet’s words. This is what Margarita Aliger (nee Zeiliger) wrote in her 1945 larger poem Your Victory about the insatiable Jewish Question that had torn the hearts of Russian speaking Jews who loved Russia as their Motherland for these 12 centuries.

 

 

 

Родины себе не выбирают.

Начиная видеть и дышать,

Родину на свете получают

Непреложно, как отца и мать.

Дни стояли сизые, косые…

Непогода улица мела…

Родилась я осенью в России,

И меня Россия приняла.

Родина! И радости и горе

Неразрывно слиты были в ней.

Родина! В любви. В бою и споре

Ты была союзницей моей.

Родина! Нежнее первой ласки

Научила ты меня беречь

Золотые пушкинские сказки.

Гоголя пленительную речь,

Ясную, просторную природу,

Кругозор на сотни вёрст окрест,

Истинную вольность и свободу,

Заботливой руки раздольный жест.

Напоила беспокойной кровью,

Водами живого родника,

Как морозом, обожгла любовью

Русского шального мужика.

Я люблю раскатистые грозы,

Хрусткий и накатанный мороз,

Клейкие живительные слёзы

Утренних сияющих берёз,

Безымянных реченек излуки.

Тихие вечерние поля;

Я к тебе протягиваю руки,

Родина единая моя.

Margarita Aliger, 1945

 

We do not choose our motherland.

As we start to see and breathe

Motherland is received in this world

Indisputably, like father and mother.

In the gray and unstable days of

Faulty weather sweeping though the streets...

I was born in Russia in the fall,

And Russia had accepted me.

Motherland! The times of joy and sorrow

Inextricably are merging into it.

Motherland! In love. In battlefields and quarrels

You were always my ally.

Motherland! More tender even than the first caresses

You had taught me to take care of Pushkin's Golden Tales.

Gogol's captivating speech,

Pure and spacious nature,

Horizon clear for hundreds of miles around,

True liberty and freedom,

The caring hand of far-reaching gesture.

It gave me the drink of her restless blood,

And waters of a living spring,

It froze me with a love of crazy Russian guy.

I love her rolling thunderstorms,

Crunchy steadfast frost,

Sticky life-giving tears,

Birches shimmering in the morning,

Sharp turns of her nameless rivers,

Quietness of her evening fields.

I stretch my hands to you,

My only Motherland.

Translated by Google translate and perfected by Marina Berkovich, 2021

 

How beautifully poetic. Margarita, who was born in Odessa in 1915 and died at the age of 76 when she fell into the deep ditch near her dacha just outside of Moscow, was a staunch communist and though I know little of her particulars, I can surmise from her medals and awards that she never broke with party lines. She confirmed and complied, either out of fear, but most probably out of her sincere belief in the communist values and promises. That is why she praised USSR, whereas I, at the mere age of 17, rebelled against its falsehood.

 

Yet now, whenever I renew my US passport, I wish I had still USSR listed as a country of birth (aka Motherland) instead of Ukraine, a country I do not want to have anything in common with, ever!

 

Margarita loved her Motherland, I presume, even after she had lived a long difficult life in it, spent time in the siege of Leningrad, lost a husband a child in the war… She was a patriot of her Motherland.

 

I am a Patriot of USA now. I am a patriot of Israel now. Are they my Motherland?

No, regrettably, neither can ever be. Motherland is the country of one’s ancestors, the country of one’s birth, the country of one’s origin or if all that fails, the Mother country in contrast to its colonies… none of those apply to me. Therefore, I am a person without an existing motherland. As a Jewish person without an existing motherland, I am a proverbial Wandering Jew.

 

What springs to your mind as you hear these two words, Wandering Jew? To mine comes a plant otherwise known by its Latin name as tradescantia, an easily adoptable to any environment green, purple or zebra leafed vital plant. I’ve had many. They are very resilient. Nearly impossible to kill. Will come back from the worst of neglect. Just like me.

 

But you probably thought of the 17th century infamous English ballad The Wandering Jew, which is based on a character from a Christian legend of The Crusades era and is as fabulous as story as it is evidence of the highly anti-Semitic sentiment of its writers and listeners.

 

Jews like Margarita Aliger, who were raised in the Soviet era, when all religion was abolished, yet anti-Semitic sentiment of the people remained, were not converts to Christianity, like The Wandering Jew of the ballad, they were converts to the “ism” ideology of socialism and continued demonstrating their faith by seeking to be accepted into the rank of The Communist Party of The Soviet Union, which during the Stalin’s era was getting rid of the Jews who helped bring the revolution to fruition and using other Jews as henchmen. Margarita only vaguely hints at that through weather imagery and I can only assign that imagery to mean so, because all Russian language poetry of her era has hidden clues and double-meanings. She may have, even if she was a card-carrying member of the party, allowed herself a word or two of truth. How could she have avoided seeing and understanding it?

 

How? Through blind faith. Like many in the present-time USA do. They go as far as to allow the cultural revolution to sweep through their Motherland/adopted Homeland without protesting. In fact, they vilify those who know the truth and are attempting to defend the country that has been ravaged by this cultural war.

 

Motherland! My child has a motherland. I do not. Will my child lose her motherland, like I lost mine? I ask of no one in particular.

 I end with a poem I wrote in 2010 -


Голосом Маргариты Алигер

 

 


Родину себе не выбирают...

Та же Маргарита Алигер

От страны родимой проглотила

Пуд дерьма – даешь СССР!

 

Родина рожает что попало –

Поле, сено, лошадь, мать и кров,

Драчунов и девочек кудрявых,

С ясель различаемых жидов.

 

Родину любить – нехитро дело.

Перепутать с детством  - это вновь!

Родина – единственное место,

Где не растворяют нашу кровь.

 

Родина в березках и рябинах,

Тополях, садах, поэтах, снах –

Та земля, где мы вовек хранимы,

А не та, где нам внушают страх.

 

Где не в падчерицах, а в любимых дочках,

В драгоценных наших сыновьях

ДНК продолжится цепочка

Из песка воспрянет весь ГУЛАГ.

 

Не могу спросить у Маргариты,

Так спрошу у Маши я Вольфсон

Сколько вытравленных выкрестов забыты?

Или снится мне анти-российский сон?

 

Я спрошу потомков Маккавея,

Говорящих на воскресшем языке,

Что их Родина? Где разум тлеет?

Или в крошечной своей стране?

 

Родина...по паспорту и данным.

Поколение транзитное умрет,

Наши внуки Родиной не станут

Звать страну где кличут «Бей жидов».

 

Русской речью перестанет плакать

Будущего нашего река.

Ей уже не надо опасаться

Русского шального мужика.

 

И в своем жилище руки грея,

Я готова русским объявить

Кто же мы такие? Мы – евреи!

Вы попробуйте без нас прожить!

 

 

 


To Each His Own Exodus. Her own, if you must be so PC that you cannot see the forest for the trees, unless you rewrite the entire English vocabulary.

Posted by Marina B on March 30, 2021 at 6:05 PM Comments comments (0)

We are in Passover time. Each year it means that less than 1% (think of it – a mere one per cent!) of world population will sit down to first, second and last seders, the ritualistic festive Jewish meals that so well represent the Exodus experience and legacy and have allowed millions of Jews, who had lived since then, the rite of cultural, religious and historic passage of their survival. Even in times of severest persecutions, or widespread inability to read and write in the language assigned to Jewish people since the beginning of times, the Jewish continuity converged at seder tables.

For the past two millennia Christians have become intimately familiar with Passover and its story, as it is no secret, no matter how much some have desired to turn it into such, that Christians follow the Hebrew Torah, with more modern, just two thousand years old, eyewitness accounts of the life and, most notably, the death of their god, who was arrested whilst celebrating the last supper, the final meal of that year’s Passover, Pesach, in Hebrew. That actually is the original meaning of The Last Supper that also became Jesus’s final meal with his disciples.

Over the lives of all Jews there is the inevitable hovering of the Jewish Passover spirit, the spirit of the individual exodus, the unchaining from whatever the burdens one’s life may have thrown upon that particular Jew’s or his ancestors’ paths.

Last week, at the first seder, I felt mine. The one that reconnected me with a person I grieved over disconnecting from the most.

I believe that Jesus too, from what I have read and learned in the Jewish history classes in college in US, was an observant Jew, and he celebrated Passover in the best of Jewish tradition, with a kosher meal and the proper order of eating from the seder plate or was it not yet placed on a single plate in his time?!

First the bitters that represent years of captivity, are dipped into salt water, that in turn represents the salty tears Jews shed in Egyptian slavery. Matsoh represent the bread that was flat, since the Jews fled their Egyptian homes so fast, the bread had no time to rise. Horseradish represents the harshness of slavery and also the mortar that the Jewish slaves laid between the bricks at the construction of the pyramids. Haroset, a sweet apple, honey and nuts mixture, reminds the Jews of the sweet reward that the ultimate gaining of freedom represents.

During seder, the red wine is dipped ten times to recall each of the ten exodus plagues, the doomsday prophecies that allowed Moses to lead his people out of slavery into the dangerous, long and never ending process of exodus.

Some of you, who have never actually undertaken any literal exodus journeys, will cringe at this mention. That is only because you are not thinking figuratively, for each liberation, be it from an overbearing friend, or an abusive boss, is your personal exodus, the road traveled to liberty, a reaching of precious freedom you must preserve, treasure, and if so needed, fight for with arms in your hands. For some, to the death.

There is nothing more valuable to a human being than freedom. It is the beginning of life for those who were liberated from the enslavement.

That is why Jews eat boiled egg at the Passover table – an unmistakable symbol of life, its continuity, and its very order. What comes first, though not the official question in the seder rite, is the prominent question in the process.

I am certainly not unique in thinking, to each his own exodus.

Many rabbis and wise men and women before me have said it. It is a given that our roads to freedom, the circumstances, are uniquely ours. The strive for freedom burns similarly within each human being.

I am not familiar with a story of any Jews who willingly remained in Egypt because of the fear of perils of their exodus. That does not mean there were none. For in every circumstance there are those whose fear of roadside perils exceeds their strive to free themselves and their children and their children’s children... Sometimes, they are so hung up on their fear, they enslave themselves to their next slave-master. And their children, and their grandchildren…

Passover is a pathway out of that fear, a reminder of the horrific reality of the loss of freedoms without having to actually re-experience it. Exodus is a reference book for human dignity, honor, perseverance, determination and the ultimate joy of fulfillment.

As to my very personal journey of surviving socialist oppression, a modern day slavery that is misunderstood and misused by too many, I could never wish that to anyone. Not even to my worst enemy. A swift death would be better than slow demise in torturous subjugation to mediocre minds that are taking over and never relinquishing control to the wiser, better prepared for the task, more qualified rulers. Rotting in the socialist oppression is my worst fear. My four decades ago exodus from under hammer and sickle is my own exodus. It never ends.

For first seder this year, 2021, we used a Stalin’s era plate pictured here that actually had the hammer and sickle stamped into it. It brought us additional joy when we listed our dayenus blessings and said, next year in Jerusalem.

Whilst we celebrated, we recalled how we were seated at the tables of our relatives, grandma’s, great aunts’ and others, that, as we look back now, we realize were their Passover tables. Even though they could not tell us anything about the meaning of anything, they continued the rite of passage. Even under the threat of arrests and executions. Even against all hope that we were collectively deprived of in the USSR.

I come from a long line of slaves.

I got freed – read my story in my books.

Becoming free made me happy.

I am a free liberated human being, who understands the value of Truth and the falsehood of Deception.

I need no special recognition, respect or compensation for my sufferings.

I wish you to find your own exodus and to love and treasure freedom.


My Cure For Your Holocaust Fatigue: Choose Your Shoes Now

Posted by Marina B on January 26, 2021 at 8:05 PM Comments comments (0)


What happened during The Holocaust is incomprehensible.

Not that holocausts and genocides are incomprehensible, in principle. They do occur all the time and have been occurring for as long as this world existed.

What made The Holocaust perpetrated by the Nazi Germany against the Jews unfathomable was the fact that it happened in the very country, which just a few short decades prior, praised itself on its progressiveness, enlightenment, advancement and intellectual superiority, yet had readily indoctrinated its citizens into believing that eradication of the Jewish people from the face of the Earth was justified and even sanctified as sacred.

Most people today are so desensitized to the Jewish victims’ numbers. What are 6,000,000 lives to a planet of nearly 8,000,000,000? But it is only .075% of today’s population, you may think.

The Jews lost two thirds of their people in The Holocaust!

In relation to the 1939 world population, it was .3%... a huge difference, to some. Irrelevant to others, who still did not learn any lessons from the unfortunate history of the Jewish people during the 20th century - be it from the deficiencies of their education, personal views of their teachers and/or families, or by a deliberate effort in revisionism of history.

Six million lives is an incomprehensible number. It creates a shield of deceptive detachment. Especially, to the young generations, who are educated with limited knowledge of statistical probability of such holocausts and the irreparable moral decay holocausts inflict upon the subsequent generations, themselves included.

The atrocities of The Holocaust were so widespread, so evil, so despicable that a well-intentioned 20th century earthling would have axiomatically accepted them as the worst tragedy ever. Of course, not all earthlings are made well-intentioned.

The Holocaust has been argued and disputed, despite the overwhelming, clearly documented evidence, The Nuremberg Trials and countless testimonies by survivors, witnesses, liberators, and even participants in the intended mass extinction of The Jews.

After half a century people begin to forget. Even those who had seen or heard the evidence can be taught to “reimagine it” as time begins to separate the event from the society’s current, more immediate needs, problems and pressing pursuits.

When was the last time you went to your local Holocaust Museum and were shown a survivor testimony? Have you ever? Those testimonies are very difficult to watch, very disturbing. So, what frequently happens, the children, and even adults, are protected from the disturbing impact of survivors’ memories, when they should be shell-shocked by their impact into respect of every human life and understanding of the evolution of hatred that could afflict every ordinary human being.

The Holocaust Museums have now been rebranding themselves into Museums of Tolerance. As if an attempt to exterminate one people is equal to the numerous attempts to subjugate another in acts of enslavement, however atrocious. The result has largely been a dilution of The Holocaust, first to include people of all nationalities and religions, who were also victimized by the Nazis and then to equalize it to all other attempts at genocides.

When was it that your local Holocaust Museum showed you the evidence of residents of your local community, who lived nearby, who went to your doctors and hospitals, ate at your favorite restaurants and so painstakingly took the time and made detrimental psychological effort to preserve their experiences so that people like you would not, could not possibly ever be dissuaded from remembering and carrying forward their harrowing legacies?

My own experiences rise out of being a grandchild and child of the Jewish survivors of The Holocaust, frequent interviewer of survivors and witnesses and being a student of anti-Semitism. My various exposures include a unique interview with a Holocaust denier David Irving, an experience I do not readily or frequently share – yet going forward, I promise I will.

The regrettable truth that The Holocaust witnesses, survivors and deniers agree upon is that for various reasons, people learn their history lessons very inadequately and, quite dangerously, they assume that nothing as horrific as The Holocaust of the 20th century could happen to them.

Just this morning, on the eve of Auschwitz liberation 76th anniversary, I read a story about a prominent Jewish family, who had a chance to flee, yet fled in the wrong direction, mistakenly thinking that the Soviet Union, the promised bastion of socialist utopia, would shield them against Hitler in 1939. That family was separated; part was forcibly transported to Siberia right away, part to Auschwitz, once the Nazis came in 1941.

The Jews are that less than 1% ethnic and religious group, which has been at the center of world hatred for several millennia. We are no strangers to genocides, captivity, forced resettlements, expropriation of assets, torture, humiliation, discrimination, and venomous, generational, institutionalized persecution. What befell to our people during the 12 years of Hitler when the world stood still and hardly lifted a finger to save majority of us, may occur again in the not too distant a future. Are you ready to fight to protect your Jewish neighbors? Or will you, like so many others before you, get immersed in your personal incidents and vendettas and will take the Jews to another slaughter? Your choice! Your consciousness!

My people have the incomparable resilience of survival. Should another holocaust engulf us into its flames, out of just a few survivors, we can rebuild, as we’ve been doing and you all have been reading in the Old Testament and since…

My people are the chosen people, perhaps, for their ability to overcome the worst without hating the world back or wanting to inflict comparable sufferings onto it. We rose and we will continue to rise from places of godforsaken hell, like Auschwitz and Majdanek, so that we can birth an occasional Albert Einstein or Elon Musk who will take the entire humanity, not only our less than 1% of the population, forward. Despite the hatred we are often subjected to enduring. Despite envy and false accusations.

Yes, we are only human, with all the faults of humanity in us, but if we forgave you the last Holocaust, why is it that you still begrudge us our statehood in our native land of Israel? Why is it that you still support the self-proclaimed destroyers of Jews, like Iran and Palestinian Authority? Why is it that you refuse to accept us as equals, when we’ve been fighting for your equality for decades, and even centuries?

There was so much promise coded into that “Never again” slogan just a quarter of a century ago. What changed? Why is the world ready to sacrifice us all over again?

I sit here, knowing that some time in the future, the descendant of the impending holocaust will be writing her thoughts down to commemorate the future anniversary of the liberation from that future holocaust. History will do what it always does – attempt to teach humanity a lesson it constantly refuses to learn…

On The Precipice of Purpose

Posted by Marina B on January 16, 2021 at 8:05 PM Comments comments (0)

I have big plans for January 20, 2021 and beyond.

 

First, I will remember the idiocy of the pink pussy mad-hatters from four years ago, the violent threats and hatred that befell on what could very well be, the last decent president USA has ever had.

I will remember how TDS overwhelmed the envious, the corrupt, the MSM-brainwashed, the institutionally indoctrinated of you and how despicably behaved, and how for four years you terrorized The President, his family, his supporters and anyone who disagreed with your line of hatred by flipping everything upside down, until you made a mockery out of US and The Truth.

I will sit with my morning coffee enjoying the final moments of FREEDOM this country gave me, a refugee from socialism, and I will thank the founders of the United States for the forty one years of freedom I enjoyed.

As of 11:59 am, I will completely disconnect from the useful idiocy that will be tyrannically installing itself in the WH.

I will follow the example and wisdom of Dr. Victor Frankl, an Austrian psychologist, who survived The Holocaust and wrote a book of his experiences in the concentration camp, and I will follow the Torah teachings that have been guarded by my people for millennia.

The Torah teaches that everything is a will of G-d and humans have the free will only to the extent of the free choices they make. Dr. Frankl, after observing and surviving the despicable atrocities, concluded that the way a prisoner imagined the future affected his longevity, and that it is essential to identify a purpose in life to feel positive about, and then immerse yourself into it imagining only that outcome.

Here’s what I will be imagining behind my 21st century virtual barbwire:

1) The Truth will Triumph.

2) Yours is only a temporary triumph, on a way to revelations that will follow your excesses and terror. The Truth always comes out. The Truth is absolute and facts, as they are revealed, will serve The Truth.

3) All the damage you can do to this wonderful country, and consequently to the world, which follows and relies on US leadership, is not going to impact my vision of the outcome, i.e. Triumph of The Truth.

4) As part of my survival, I will pretend that none of you are, and what becomes of you is wholly and totally inconsequential to me. I will not be sympathetic to your painful realizations, as one by one you will discover that what I’ve been warning you about was true and the knowledge I was trying to pass on to to you, was factual.

5) I will pay as much attention to you as you did to me, and show you the same “kindness” as you bestowed on me and mine, after you travel the full journey and are ready for a conversation on the level. I will only have a conversation like that after your full and complete admission of your error in judgment, and you full apology – not to me – to this glorious nation you are destroying and to The Trump Family – every single one of whom so bravely fought to preserve it, as The Republic she was planned, functioned since 1776 and was meant to forever.

 

If I live through this difficult time.

 

 

 

 


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