For the past six months Blognik Beat has been dedicated to exploring the past, present, and future of Russian-Jewry. Its bloggers have reached back into time to re-tell the story of their ancestors, of their hardships in the Soviet Republic and their struggles in acclimating to a new world. But this blog has not strictly been about detailing the stories of adversity. Its content has allowed us to peek into the Russian-Jewish mind, into how they think and view the world. This blog has adventured into Russian dating, politics, culture, schooling, but most importantly it has looked into the soul of a people. A people who will begin to become more important, influential, and involved whether others are prepared for that end or not.
I sincerely hope that as one of the many bloggers at Blognik Beat, I have allowed The Forward’s readers to better understand the Russian heart and soul. I hope that those who have read my, as well as other posts, have come away with a better idea of how the traditional American Jewish community can work with the up and coming Russian Jewish community. If we do not start to bridge the gaps between these two peoples then we will have failed ourselves in keeping one of the Jewish peoples most sacred covenants: “Kol Yisrael Arevim Ze-lah Zeh,” — “All of Israel is responsible for one another.”
Do we really wish to continue down this path of mutual disengagement? Ten years from now, when the distance between the two groups has widened considerably, we will ask the same question of what should be done to bring the two together. When no credible answer appears, both sides will blame one another as such is always the outcome when solutions do not appear. I truly despair that such a situation will present itself.
But ten years from now can look much different. Instead of sharing failure, both communities could share responsibility for one another’s prosperity and welfare. No, not some vague, abstract responsibility that politicians speak of to please their constituents. Responsibility means work. It means sacrifice. It means bringing real people together to build real relationships, organizations, and institutions. This project will entail more than just donor money and statements of solidarity.
If Russian and American Jewry do not look to create this future together some might say that both communities will be much worse off than had they worked together. This will not be the reality. Both communities will be fine. They will each flourish in their respective ways, but on separate paths, and less contact will mean less trust for these two communities.
The only question there is to ask is whether we wish for Jews to live as if they are a united or fractured people. If we wish to live as the latter, to go against the principle that has kept us together longer than any other people, then so be it. But if we believe that our unity is what will keep us a lasting and flourishing people then we must begin to take on that responsibility and the work that will come with it.
Ryan Yuffe, 18, was born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y. He is a sophomore studying at Brandeis University.