I know little besides “the fruit was so big,” the summers beautiful,” but Rostov-Don holds a significant grasp on my pride — it was written in large letters on a placard in my grandparents’ house, the placard sent to them by the Ellis Island Immigration Museum in the mid-’80s. They put it in wrought iron as well — on Ellis Island for a school field trip, I stepped away from the group and found “Elizabeth Resnitsky — Rostov-Don” on a plaque beside the seawater. Our blood, some of it, is from there, and when it’s safer I’ll bring the kids and a video camera.
“When it’s safer” — did Great-Grandma Lizzy think that when she fled in 1912 at age 16, or did she know the currents well enough that her great-great-grandchildren would see the same pedigree of bastard running the place?
Would she want us to visit, even with the specter of Yanukovich, the latest in a century of faceless, interchangable thugs, dampening the city’s spirit?
This morning, angry Viktor so-and-so ranted about his blah-blah, whatever, “banality of evil.” I didn’t watch it. Same speech — Grandma Lizzy could have filled us in. Yanukovich will spend much of the rest of his life in exile, maybe in a spider hole, or a gold-leafed chalet, thinking great things of himself. He doesn’t matter, and is not fit to clean the shoes of the people he chases away. Brooklyn took them in 100 years ago. We’re doing just fine without his centralized planning; Grandma Lizzy and Hyman Wigodsky, without a hammer and sickle, started a Brooklyn family that turned into several doctors and lawyers and teachers, a bunch of millionaires and graduate degrees. A tax base Yanukovich would love to plunder but will never have the chance to.
I’m sure plenty of Rostov Don citizens will be pleased to see Yanukovich leave town soon, especially the 10,000 or so Jews who survive there today. Imagine — a whole century of these men disturbing yet another lovely corner of the globe, keeping eager visitors at a distance.