At a time of uncertainty, why is now the right time to find community? And how is the way we show up as Russian Speaking Jews different from how our parents do? Host Margarita Korol speaks with fellow Russian Speaking Jewish young professionals on their efforts to build community and promote the value of global Jewish responsibility.

This project has been made possible with the generous support of Genesis Philanthropy Group.


Listen to the episode on Spotify.

S1E6—Money Talks

About This Episode

In our season finale, we look at philanthropy as an avenue for young people to consider for activating their potential to uplift vulnerable community members locally and globally. This is a chance to challenge the belief we hear inside and outside RSJ circles that RSJs “don’t do philanthropy.” JDC Board Member Ed Mermelstein and Moishe House‘s Senior Director of RSJ Projects, Yana Tolmacheva share insights.

S1E5—Assiyah Means Acting on your Values

About This Episode

In lieu of travel slides, Margarita shares some clips from the recent JDC Entwine Jewish Odesa virtual trip exploring JDC’s work in the region, and how it has inspired participants to activate in their own communities. Participant Fima Zaltsman, a Nice Jewish Boy and RSJ Biologist in San Francisco (by way of Moscow/ Michigan/ Midwest), shares.

S1E4—We Are a Family

About This Episode

Margarita’s mother shares her immigration journey as a lone refugee with a toddler in the Soviet Pipeline, helped by JDC in Vienna en route to Chicago. Another Jewkrainian now living in Tel Aviv, Sasha Belenky talks growing up RSJ in Louisville with a drive towards social justice reflected in systems design. Julie Yepishina-Geller Cavanagh reflects on her Calgarian RSJ experience.

S1E3—Babushkas in the Time of Corona

About This Episode

Now that we’ve established the importance of naming the intentions and values you’re showing up in your relationships with, we think about arevut, the value that drives people to support those in need. Where does that value come from? We hear three stories—first to Chicago, where Margarita speaks with Lee Litas, journalist and general manager of Forever Young, the senior daycare center that her mother, Chicago radio personality “Martochka” Litas, cofounded to help the same elderly population who enjoyed her shows and events. Then we head to Odesa where we hear from JDC’s Inna Vdovichenko about other ways JDC has evolved its response in caring for Jewish elderly—and finally to Brooklyn with Allen Meyerovich whose grandfather’s values are inspiring his dedicating time each week to help an elderly JDC client ward off the social effects of isolation during the pandemic through Entwine’s Insider Connections Virtual Service opportunity.

S1E2—Owning Our Traditions: Not Your Babushka’s RSJ

About This Episode

In this second episode of Not Your Babushka’s Russian Speaking Jew, we explore the “why” that drives RSJ young professionals, with and without recent immigrations out of the FSU. We hear stories of how these intentions manifest in RSJ community builders around the world, in our relationships in our own communities, and in our careers, with a fascinating spotlight on the comeup of an RSJ drag performer in NYC.

Guests: Katya Rouzina, Victor Riffel

RSJ in the USA 101—Not Your Babushka's Russian Speaking Jew

About This Episode

In this episode, Margarita speaks with Caroline and Matt, who joined her on last fall’s trip to Ukraine to experience revitalized Jewish life there since their families immigrated to the US to escape Soviet oppression. Asher Ostrin, interim CEO of JDC weighs in on how he started showing up for Soviet Jews after a meaningful trip to Israel inspired him to take action in a direction that would eventually lead to his impactful career with the Joint.

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Margarita Korol, the host of Not Your Babushka’s Russian Speaking Jew podcast, was born in Ukraine the week of the Chernobyl disaster to a Jewish family that would become refugees fleeing Soviet persecution for Chicago. Against this backdrop, she has built a career in the arts, social science, and community building by leveraging her Master’s research and artistic ventures focusing on the cultural anthropology of post-communist societies. Today, as JDC Entwine’s RSJ Community Manager, Margarita designs programs and experiences connecting her fellow American Russian-speaking Jews with each other’s stories in order to find meaning in their complex, and ever evolving, identities. She resides in New York City and she and her family were aided by JDC, the global Jewish humanitarian organization, when they emigrated to America.