The Fuks are a Russian-speaking Jewish family living in Silicon Valley. This is their story.
I wanted to let you know how much impact the Russian-Speaking Jewish Program of Jewish Silicon Valley has had on myself and my family. It is not easy to preserve a Jewish identity in modern American society. We had Russian friends who we met at the kids’ preschool and at some point, we belonged to a local Jewish congregation and enjoyed going to the services while our kids attended Sunday school. But we were craving more personal connections and friendships with people from our own culture. The Russian-Speaking Jewish Program connected the two worlds for us and introduced us to a community of like-minded families who were also looking for more Jewish education, holiday celebrations and children’s activities.
Rabbi Ilana’s enthusiasm, energy and deep knowledge of Judaism filled the niche we were looking for. [Rabbi Ilana Baird manages the Russian-Speaking Jewish Program.] Our kids attended monthly “Heder” Jewish education classes, major holiday celebrations, museum and annual camping trips while we went to Jewish movie screenings, took turns hosting Shabbat celebrations, and attended multiple cultural events thoughtfully selected and organized by the program leaders.
After being an active participant for several years, I decided to make my own contribution to the program by both donating money and becoming a member of the organizational committee of the program. My husband also became much more active in Jewish life and started using his love of music to help at events by playing piano and guitar and singing Jewish songs. By the time our kids grew up, they also started helping, either by singing at celebrations or volunteering at events.
We knew how important the program was for us all along, but it became especially needed when the COVID pandemic started and we were all sitting at home, isolated and not able to attend any events or services or have friends over to celebrate holidays. The program adjusted very quickly, turning to an online format, so we were able to celebrate Shabbats, Rosh Hashanah, Pesach Seder, and Purim from our home and still feel very connected to the Jewish community — now even more so.
The most important sign, indicating how far we have come on this Jewish journey, was when our kids told us that they would like to attend a Jewish summer camp and then insisted that we move them from a local public school to a Jewish day school. For them, there is no question that they would like to have bat/bar mitzvahs when the time comes and they are eager to start private classes to prepare for the big events. Undoubtedly, the Russian-Speaking Jewish Program was one of the most important influences that shaped their identity.
We would like to thank you for your selfless contribution in creating and shaping this unique program and encourage you to continue growing and expanding it for other families to benefit in the years to come!
By J. Fuks
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