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Reviewed by Pikasho Deka for Readers' Favorite
In this moving memoir, Regina Gershman tells her story as a young girl who, with her family, escaped the persecution of the Jewish community by the former Soviet Union. Rebecca's Journey follows Rebecca since she was ten years old, living with her parents and siblings in a poor house in Kyiv in the mid-1970s. As a child, Rebecca witnessed the discrimination of Jews everywhere, from teachers in school to shopkeepers in the markets where people refused to sell groceries to her mother. She lost many of her Jewish friends as their families were sent to Siberia. Her father and his friend were part of one of the extensive operations to get the Jewish community out of the Soviet Union. Eventually, Rebecca's family found their way to Italy, from where fate took them to Canada.
Rebecca's Journey is a testament to the resilient spirit of the Jewish community that continues to battle antisemitism and not only prevail but thrive against overwhelming odds. Regina Gershman takes readers through life in the Soviet Union in the mid-1970s -- the era of stagnation -- where poverty and antisemitism went hand in hand, and the Jews had to navigate both poor economic conditions and systematic racism and discrimination that was rampant in Soviet society. Although heartbreaking and even brutal at times, this is also a story about finding the courage to rise above life's challenges and discover hope amid adversity. Gershman gives an unflinching account of life in the Soviet Union and shows why Judaism is such a significant part of the distinctive Jewish identity. I found this book emotionally powerful and very much relevant for our times. Highly recommended.