On Day 30, I found myself at a Russian rooftop concert wildly dancing in circles and singing along with other Eastern-European vodka-drinking twenty somethings.
Upon first glance, you’d think that I attend these types of events frequently.
Although I hailed from the Soviet Union, I rarely find myself gravitating towards the youth of my Ukrainian past. There are several reasons for this. One is that I was a small child at the time of our arrival to the Land of the Brave. Another is that my parents never pushed me to necessarily hang out with other former Russian/Ukrainian children.
Nevertheless, one important lesson was learned here: you can take the girl out of the Russian-Jewish land but you cannot take the Russian-Jew (culturally speaking) out of the girl. There’s nothing I can do (believe me I’ve tried). The only thing left to do is have a drink and sing along.
I went with it. I clapped, I abused wine, I swooned at the music of my parents generation (which I still love). The highlights are as follows:
- We danced (as previously mentioned) holding hands in circles, kicking our feet up, turning from side to side (let’s be honest, if you’re at a Jewish event and you’re not running around in a circle, you’re lost. Leave and find the correct address)… if you’ve been to a bar mitzvah, you know what I’m talking about. All we needed was an MC handing out inflatable toys for best kick and I would’ve been in middle school heaven
- We drank vodka like it was water (and chased it with watermelon) and made sure to toast to family, friendship and being together … le’chayim! (means: To Life… Yes, I looked up the spelling)
- We spontaneously burst into song recalling famous Russian songs and rhymes… one particularly loved one about birthdays. The band started singing along as well and we all swayed to the music as one bonded group, as if we’d all known each other for years.
There was hilarity, there was wine, there was fruit, there was bonding of sorts, song, dance, laughter and vodka shots. As we stood there on this rooftop overlooking Manhattan, I felt surprisingly and yet totally predictably… at home.