The Letter From America That Changed Our Lives

            January 2014    
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My Rendezvous with Destiny

By David Edelman

Sometimes a single event in someone's life takes on such tremendous significance, that it becomes a turning point irrevocably altering the course and the destiny of that life. Undoubtedly for me and my family it was our leaving the old Soviet Union and coming to America. I will never forget the moment our plane touched down at New York's Kennedy airport and the fillings of elation and disbelief we all experienced. After years of bureaucratic nightmare, threads, fears, doubts, heroic efforts, we were finally on American soil. That jubilation, though, would have never happened, if not for the help and support of the American government, the American people, and most of all American Jewish organizations. They provided financial support, took care of the logistics, helped with preparation of all the necessary documents, they met the refugees at their destinations, helped them to settle, find jobs, learn the English language, and much, much more.

I am sure every Soviet immigrant has a personal story to tell. Mine begins in Rome, Italy. Like many other families, we were stationed there until our visa was ready. That took three, four, sometimes six months. During this time of being neither here nor there, we were free to do whatever we wanted. Some of us took to studying English, some were trying to find work for cash, some were doing nothing at all, but all of us were relentlessly contemplating the future.

It was a time of confusion and uncertainty, none of us knew where we would end up, or what we would do. But such is human nature. We plan and we dream, even in untenable situations. We were utterly helpless. We couldn't speed up the process, we couldn't choose or suggest anything. Providence seemed to be our only option. To me it came disguised in a telephone call. One day right after breakfast, our phone rang. On the other end was our guidance counselor, and she wanted to see us as soon as possible. Slightly puzzled but optimistic, we took the train to the embassy. In her small office Amy, our counselor, handed us a letter from America. The address said "Congregation Sons of Zion, Holyoke,Mass."

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from the January 2014 Edition of the Jewish Magazine

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