April 21, 2024
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April 21, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Connection Comes in Crisis

Connection comes in crisis

Entranced, I watch the explosions on TV

Streets I saw many years ago

Countless times in my first few years; once in my college years

Dead silent and ghost-like

While babies cry underneath them

Held by their fearful mothers

In an air-raid shelter, basement, metro station

Take your pick.

So many ways for humanity to disappear.

I lived around here, I was told

Too small to remember a thing

Impossible to think I will remember anything like this

Feeling no connection to this place till now,

With my Westernized life and organic food

Wish I had then because now—I’m glued to the screens

I feel connected to these people, their stories, their lives falling apart

I guess connection comes in crisis.

No longer am I a “Russian Jew from Ukraine”

(That never quite rolled off the tongue anyway)

I am a Ukrainian [Jew].

Simple, sweet, in solidarity.

I speak Russian, not Ukrainian

Does that make me a traitor?

The intertwined histories of these cultures excuses me, I hope.

My American friend from Ukraine wants to learn Ukrainian

I’d rather assassinate the aggressor.

My old friend moved from Donetsk to Crimea

He tells me “Russia must force peace with a special military operation.”

What do your friends think, he asks.

I am left speechless.

I am disturbed to understand the language spoken by both sides.

It somehow illogically implicates me in the conflict.

I used to feel confused by my compilation of identities

Russian-speaking Jewish ethnicity Ukrainian USSR-born American/immigrant

Now it’s crystal clear. (It has to be.)

I stand with Ukraine.

Слава Украине! (Glory to Ukraine. A Ukrainian national salute.)

And as the brave protestors chant fiercely in my mother tongue,

Нет Войне! (No to War!)

By Yuliya Shteynberg


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