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November 17, 1989 - Image 101

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-11-17

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Special to The Jewish News

hen Yuri Ka-
lish arrived in
Detroit from
the Soviet
Union last
April, immigrants who
preceded him here gave him
a warning.
"I don't know why, but im-
migrants who have been here
for three or four years told me
that single people who come
here find it difficult to marry,"
Kalish, 24, said.
That warning underscores a
problem facing singles who
come to the Detroit area from
the Soviet Union: they must
not only learn a new
language, go to school, find a
job and become adjusted to a
new life, but they must also
figure out how to fit into the
social culture.
It has only been in the re-
cent wave of immigration
that single adults have been
leaving the Soviet Union in
increasing numbers, explain-
ed Joanna Berger, who heads
the English language pro-
gram at the Jimmy Prentis
Morris Branch of the Jewish
Community Center. Berger's
classes are among the first
taken by the new arrivals.
"This is new — for singles
to come," Berger said. "Before
this, there were very few
single people. It can be very

From Russia

(to Detroit)

With Love

Soviet Jewish singles say
joining the social life here isn't
easy, but they've got hope.

hard, very lonely for some of
them. We find, a lot of times,
they become friendly with
people in their classes and
their neighbors — who are
other Russian immigrants."
This bonding with other
Soviets often continues past
the first stage of adjustment,
according to Luba Berton,
who heads the Russian Ac-
culturation Program at the
"Last year, there was a mar-
raige between two people who
came here as adolescents
with their families eight to 10

years earlier," Berton said.
"They grew up here, but they
married each other.
"The single people who
come here usually don't come
alone; they come with their
families. They must go to
school, find a job, help their
parents get established," Ber-
ton explained. "Only after
they do that, do they think
about their own social life.
Then they are usually in-
terested in looking for a part-
ner who is Russian because
they share _a background.
"When you come from a

culture which is so different,
it complicates matters. While
it may be more interesting to
be involved with someone
from another culture, it is
more convenient, more com-
fortable, to find someone with
the same background."
Gregory Mordukhovich, 24,
who arrived in Detroit in late
summer, has found it difficult
to meet young Americans.
Like other recent arrivals, he
spends much of his time stu-
dying. He is taking courses to
prepare for the "English as a
Second Language" examina-

tion necessary to attend an
American university. He is a
mechanical engineer.
"It's very seldom I meet
young people here," Mor-
dukhovich said. "Usually, I
meet older people. It's very
different here. For 24 years, I
live in another culture — now,
it's not so easy. Russians and
Americans have different
ways. They eat, work, say
goodbye, say hello in different
ways. It's very difficult to
Mordukhovich, who lives in
Oak Park with his mother, is
hoping that, when he passes
his entrance exams and is
able to attend college, he will
meet more people his age.
This is echoed by Boris
Goldman, 18, who has been in
Oak Park with his parents
and younger brother since
Sept. 11. He took medical
courses in the Soviet Union
and is hoping to become a
"I would like to meet many
young people, but now it is
very difficult," Goldman said.
"If I pass examinations for
college, then I meet very
many friends, maybe. I'd like
to meet American girls — and
boys, too. I don't understand
their life."
Goldman added that
teachers in the Soviet Union
put additional pressure on
Jewish students, forcing the
students to devote most of




Kalish is trying to
get more involved.

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