by Beverly Fried Fox

To Russia, with Love and Books

In July of last year I boarded a plane headed for Moscow with two hagadot in my suitcase: my grandmother’s, dog-eared and stained, which she’d carried to America along with her brass candle-sticks, and an interactive hagada designed for preschoolers. I was also bringing more than 600 Jewish children’s books (with translations into Russian hand-pasted between the pages) and plans for a three-day education workshop. My 50th birthday was the catalyst for this trip that reversed the steps of my grandparent’s journey of 100 years before. I’d organized a conference with the Egalitarian Minyan of Rogers Park, Chicago Action for Soviet Jewry and the Joint Distribution Committee for Jewish teachers in Moscow. The 44 attendees (all but two of them women), from 40 communities, traveled by train to the Pushkine Conference Center from as far away as the Ural Mountains.

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