A Gram( Now Wored
English is a considerable barrier to one family's acculturation.
nglish is forever on Svetlana
Sirota's mind. "I don't want to
forget Russian, but I want to im-
prove my English," said Svet-
lana, who began learning the language,--/
during her childhood in Ukraine. "I al- ------\
ways knew that someday I would go to
Israel or America."
Svetlana's family settled in Southfield
a year and a half ago, and while she has
learned a lot since then, she desperately
wants to be adept well before she attends
college — one year from this fall.
Her parents, Frida and Yuriy, both
well-educated, often rely on their 17-year-
old daughter to translate for them. They
take English-as-a-second-language class-
es but have a long way to go before they
will be proficient. Movies are out of the
question, and television often has to be
deciphered by Svetlana.
'When they ask me to translate, it
sometimes reminds me of a little kid ask-
ing his parents to read him a book," Svet- '
lana said. "It's hard for my parents, and
sometimes that makes me feel mad at
this country. They were something there
(in Ukraine). They had good jobs and
were respected at work."
Mr. and Mrs. Sirota already had lived
half their lives in Ukraine before coming
to the United States. Svetlana, still in
Yuriy Sirota lights Shabbat candles on Friday
nights. He and his family want to learn more about
FigNifty Fire Wita The
heir bedrooms had water dam-
age, and the furniture in the
apartment had to be thrown out.
But everyone was all right, and
that's all that mattered to one Russian
Two and a half years ago, Borris
Tsentsiper came home from school to
find firefighters extinguishing a blaze at
the Northgate Apartments complex in
There were no injuries, but
the fire forced many families,
mostly emigres from the for-
mer Soviet Union, to relocate.
Borris, who, with his mother
and sister came here five
years ago from St. Petersburg,
moved with his family into an-
other apartment at North-
"I don't want to concentrate
on what happened," said Bor-
ris, 22. "No one wants to re-
member what's not good. I'm
just happy everyone is OK."
Borris has a computer that
eluded damage, and the
Zalman and Mariya
Epshteyn with their
Tsentsipers lost most of
their belongings in the
Tsentsipers were able to save
old photographs. Somehow, the
family cat ran away, but a new
cat, Golda, now makes itself
comfortable in the family's new
On the day of the fire, Borris'
grandfather, Zalman Epsteyn,
who lives with his wife in an-
other Northgate apartment,
wrapped himself in his
Mr. Epshteyn, left,
extinguish the blaze at
warmest jacket and hat and went to see
what was going on. All he could do was
allow his daughter and grandchildren to
spend the night in his unharmed apart-
ment. A somber Mr. Epsteyn was pho-
tographed and appeared on the cover of
The Jewish News.
The Tsentsipers' new apartment, void
of decoration, is filled with 9-year-old
Anna's toys and games. Hooked up to the
family's television set is a VCR and a
Nintendo game system.
Now, just in case, the family has in-
surance. The Tsentsipers didn't have it
before the fire because they didn't know
they needed it. ❑