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July 19, 1996 - Image 53

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1996-07-19

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son's first marriage, still in Russia. They
often write to her.
The couple was introduced through
Ms. Izakson's grandfather, who knew Mr.
Sakin's mother. The young adults fell
in love. She was 18 when they married
in 1945, and he was 28.
Most of the couple's life together has
been consumed with work. Ms. Izakson
was a dentist for 25 years. Because she
was Jewish, she had to wait for two years
before getting accepted to dental school.
The anti-Semitism didn't end there. Once
she became a dentist, patients were un-
comfortable and wouldn't trust a Jew.
However, because medicine is free and
physician choices limited, patients had
no alternative but to use her services.
"The hospital was in an area where
there were 1 million people," Ms. Izak-
son said. "Most didn't have a choice about
which doctor they went to see."
Mr. Sakin was an optical engineer for
the government, making instruments for
army tanks. After working for a total of
55 years, Mr. Sakin found that his job al-
most prevented him from leaving Rus-
For years, the government did not
want him to leave, claiming he knew
state secrets.

His work as an optics engineer, Mr.
Sakin said, was appreciated in Russia.
Today he is retired, though he and his
son continue to write articles on optics.
Although the two had an article pub-
lished in Applied Optics last February,
writing pieces has been difficult because
of language obstacles, Mr. Sakin said.
Mr. Sakin continues to educate him-
self on optics, subscribing to two trade
publications on the subject. Both are in

"When I came to America
and saw the good here,
I didn't have
any regrets."

— Yosif Sakin

English, so he uses a dictionary to get
through the articles and calls his son al-
most daily with questions.
The couple learn English in separate
classes because they are at different lev-
els. She says he is more advanced, while
he says his wife's English is better. Both

attend ESL classes two nights a week.
Like her husband, Ms. Izakson said
she is frustrated that she doesn't know
more English after six years in the United
States. In reality, both understand most
of the language and repetition is seldom
Each day they drive to the Federation
apartments to pick up Mrs. Torgow's
mother, Bertha Merzon, with whom they
will spend the day. They are there by 9
am., and conversations are mostly in Yid-
dish. All three speak it fluently. The trio
eats a large breakfast, typically coffee,
a cheese of some kind, bread and fresh
There will be no other food until din-
ner, as the couple dine on the same sched-
ule they used to keep in the former Soviet
Once the morning meal is over, Mrs.
Izakson spends most of her day reading.
She subscribes to a Russian-language
magazine published in New York, and
her neighbor gets a daily Russian paper,
also from New York. Twice a month, Ms.
Izakson borrows Russian books from the
Oak Park Library.
Her husband, meanwhile, is anxious
to work on optics formulas for his next

Ms. Izakson washes the breakfast dishes. After,
she is able to catch up on news from the former
Soviet Union.

"Writing is my life," he said. "When Pm
not writing, I'm not living."
For their relative Bonnie Torgow, find-
ing family she never met has been one of
her greatest triumphs.
"First my father tried to find them,"
she said. "Now they spend a lot of time
with my mother. They provide each oth-
er with companionship. Doesn't that
prove there is a God above?" D

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