Line Five: The Internal Passport; Jewish Family Odysseys from the U. S. S. R. to the U. S. A.

Overview

All immigrants have a story to tell: where they came from, why they came, what they hoped to find in their new homeland. The voices heard in Line Five: The Internal Passport are those of nineteen Soviet Jewish families who fled the USSR between Glasnost, in 1986, and the collapse of the Soviet state late in 1991. Their stories span nearly a century of political upheaval, from World War I and the Revolution through the Stalin era, World War II, and the Cold War decades, including Chernobyl. The fifty speakers come...
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Overview

All immigrants have a story to tell: where they came from, why they came, what they hoped to find in their new homeland. The voices heard in Line Five: The Internal Passport are those of nineteen Soviet Jewish families who fled the USSR between Glasnost, in 1986, and the collapse of the Soviet state late in 1991. Their stories span nearly a century of political upheaval, from World War I and the Revolution through the Stalin era, World War II, and the Cold War decades, including Chernobyl. The fifty speakers come from areas as diverse as the Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Siberia, and Azerbaijan. They range in age from eighty-two to eleven and include doctors, scientists, teachers, an artist, and a champion boxer. Though all left the Soviet Union to escape repression as Jews, many had no experience of Jewish tradition. Their identity as Jews came from the discriminatory fifth line of their internal passports, and from their universal treatment as second-class citizens. This book is the culmination of an ambitious oral history project undertaken by the Women's Auxiliary of the Jewish Community Centers of Chicago. Fifty immigrant histories were recorded on tape and in transcript, comprising an archive that is now housed both at the Spertus College Library of Judaica and at the Chicago Historical Society. The most interesting and representative aspects of these are published in Line Five. By turns horrifying, poignant, perceptive, and funny, they provide eyewitness accounts of some of this century's most cataclysmic events, and a unique record of day-to-day life in the former Soviet Union.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
``Line Five'' refers to the Jewish ``nationality'' on the Soviet Citizen's Internal Passport, and anti-Semitism pervades these illuminating oral histories of 50 people in 19 Jewish families who immigrated to Chicago from 1986 to 1991: distrust after the 1953 Doctors' Plot, workplace discrimination, childhood scapegoating and the recent rise of the nationalist group Pamyat. Interviewees relate the texture of their lives in the former Soviet Union, including material hardships (one bathroom for 40 people), marriages and births and the decision to apply for permission to emigrate and subsequent struggles with the authorities. Though the stories are admirable, especially when two generations in a family are interviewed, sometimes they cover the same ground, such as reactions to the Chernobyl disaster. The immigrants have varying reflections on America: some find freedom and friendliness, while others feel alienated, and many--perhaps the result of a bias in selection--seem to be reclaiming their Jewish identity. A portrait of immigrants in a more concentrated community, like Brooklyn's Brighton Beach, might have yielded different results. The editors are affiliated with the Oral History Project of the Chicago Jewish Community Centers. Photos not seen by PW . (Dec.)
Library Journal
The title refers to line five of the internal passport of the former Soviet Union, on which the republic of birth is recorded for each citizen--except Jews. For them, line five reads Evrey (``Jew''). Between 1988 and 1990, nearly 10,000 Soviet Jews immigrated to the Chicago area. This is their story, revealed through 50 oral histories that attest to the anti-Semitism they experienced in a homeland crumbling under a Communist rule. Daily they faced lost jobs, discrimination in education, and even the threat of serious injury or death. Equally depressing are accounts of their attempts to emigrate to America. The oral history method makes for frank interviews that tell much about ethnicity in a repressive society, and this volume's value lies in its details of daily life. Though of little literary merit, this book adds yet other voices to our understanding of life for Jews in Russia. Other studies include Rothchild's A Special Legacy: An Oral History of Soviet Jewish Emigres in the United States ( LJ 8/85); and The Price of Freedom (Pergamon, 1986). A significant book, recommended for academic and larger public libraries.-- Boyd Childress, Auburn Univ. Lib., Ala.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781556521560
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/1/1992
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Pages: 310

Table of Contents

Foreword
Editors' Prefaces
Acknowledgments
Pt. I Passport to Repression 1
1 Grandmother and Granddaughter: An Overview of a Century: Tsilia Michlin Goldin and Yanina Estrina Nayman 3
Not by Bread Alone
Passage to Dignity and Pride
2 Heroic Service to a Country That Chose to Forget: The Ginsburg/Friedgan Family 21
A Plan "To Become Something"
Healer and Hero
Standing Taller
The Family Shield Was Love
Leading the Way
In Exchange for Wheat
Changing Places
3 Dedication, Work, and Hope: The A. Family 65
A Life of Purpose
Life Consists of Small Events
Real Politics Stayed Hidden
After a Dark Struggle
4 Problems in the Biography: The Umantsev/Shafran Family 93
Some Things Are Beyond Repair
A Reduction of Remedies
Contrasts and Comparisons
Seeing It with Her Own Eyes
5 Different Views of the Same Landscape: Nella Radunsky and Izrail Radunsky 125
Child of an "Enemy of the People"
Portrait of the Artist in Search of a Landscape
Pt. II The Glasnost Visa 141
6 Two Generations of Heroic Refuseniks: The Reznikov Family 143
Grief Doesn't Need Exaggeration
Courage to Stand for Freedom
A Double Life
A Hopeful Start
Determined Faith
7 Uncommon Endowments: The M. Family 185
A Life in Two Worlds
Blueprint for a Fresh Start
"I Could Be a Senator"
8 A Quest for Belief: Alex Blinstein and Rita Blinstein 211
To Find a Balance
There Was an Emptiness
9 Contemporary Comments: Igor Fertelmeyster and Tatyana Fertelmeyster 231
No Oxygen at All
Questions without Answers
Pt. III Album Leaves from Other Journeys 249
Wandering in Search of Work
A Life of Limitations
The Tragedy of Our Parents
1984: Under the Eye of Big Brother
They Told Us All Was Well
A Place of No Return
An Unseeable Future
Terrible Truths
There Are Miracles
Singular Internal Passports
Glossaries 291
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