Sunday, October 25, 2009

Journey of a lifetime

In everyone's life, there are moments that they know will change their future forever. I had such a moment thirty years ago today but at the time I could never have imagined the magnitude of the impact. That was the day my family first arrived in the United States.

The journey to get here was challenging. Just applying to leave the Soviet Union branded us with a scarlet letter -- my father lost his job and we received visits from the police. However, after nine months in this status we were able to make our way to Austria and then France where we stayed for four months waiting for our American visas. With few real possessions and no steady income, times were hard but there were people who helped us all along the way. Finally, we landed in New York on October 25th, 1979. Thanks to many organizations and individuals, we were able to start life anew in this land.

It is impossible for me to overstate the opportunity this country has given me. In many ways, the fortune I have enjoyed with Google exemplifies the American dream, but to me that is just the tip of the iceberg. Reflecting upon my life, I have many basic freedoms that my parents did not -- the ability to pursue my interests in school and university, the choices in jobs, the freedom to live in the place of my choosing, and ultimately the ability to pursue my own enterprise.

There are too many people and organizations for me to properly thank in this post but I would like to highlight a few:

HIAS - - provided help all along the way with logistics and expenses as they have for millions of jews.
Casip Cojasor - - provided assistance during our stay in France.
IHES - - provided housing and a research stipend for my father.
Jewish Federation DC - - helped to settle us in the US.
University of Maryland - provided employment and a new community of friends.

To these organizations and many individuals who helped us, my sincerest gratitude.

PS Please see a related article today in the New York Times.

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