Growing up as the child of Soviet immigrants and the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors has colored every aspect of who I am. The fact that you’re here, reading this page on my website dedicated to my career in the food industry is completely and entirely due to the fact that my parents decided to flee the Soviet Union 30 years ago. I owe them everything and I’ll never forget that. This is our story.
This is my Babushka Lola. Don’t we look so much alike? I don’t know if soulmates exist but if they do, she is mine. Baba Lola's life wasn’t easy: she was just 11 years old when the Holocaust began and she dealt with the repercussions of antisemitism her entire life. Despite it all, she remained the strongest, most resilient person I’ve ever known. Whenever I’m having a tough time, I remind myself that her blood flows through my veins so I can make it through anything.
Seeing my Dedushka cooking shashlik over a charcoal grill brings a smile to my face. He made his own bread, wine, cheese, smoked meats. His hands always smelled like garlic from all the pickling he did. And he was kind - the kind of kind that makes your heart almost hurt because he felt too good for this world. For a man who lost so much - including his four siblings and parents in the Holocaust - he never let it ruin him. He was a true mensch.
I literally cannot believe that my parents were 21 in this photo from their wedding. 21! They were children! What’s even more insane is that they got engaged two weeks after they started dating and married just six months after that. My mom looks so beautiful - and my dad looks EXACTLY like my twin sister! I wish we still had her wedding dress but unfortunately, a wedding dress doesn’t rank high on the priority list for items you need when you flee the Soviet Union.
This newspaper clipping is from 1989 and details the struggle my parents faced in getting the rest of their family over to America from the Soviet Union. I think about it often: how worried and sad my mom looks, how defeated my dad looks. They were only 28 in this photo which is my age as I write this. It’s hard to imagine just how difficult their situation was but if there’s one trait all the Fedners share, it’s resilience.
This is my favorite photo of my Babushka Lola - it’s exactly how I picture her in my head and it’s been the screensaver on my phone ever since she passed away in January 2020. I have that wool scarf in my drawer. I keep it tucked away and only bring it out when I’m really in need of comfort because I want it to keep smelling like her for as long as possible. I miss her so much.
Twinning with Frannie! Frannie and I were inseparable when we were little, and our favorite pastime was committing “pakasti”- aka little mischievous deeds. I laugh so hard when I think about those pakasti: one of our favorite games was hiding underneath the dinner table and then, when the adults sat down to eat, we'd start stomping on their shoes. We committed some more serious transgressions like trying to run away from home when we were six with nothing in tow but our dolls and maybe two dollars but that’s a story for another time.
I’m sorry but does my dad not look exactly like Napoleon Dynamite in this photo? Those glasses are everything. I genuinely can’t tell you much about this photo because I was barely conscious at its inception but I would love to take a moment to appreciate my mom’s 90s hair in full swing.
This is one of my favorite photos of all time! I am sitting at my Babushka Lola’s table eating her famous vareniki (potato & onion dumplings) with my mom and twin sister (check out the bottle of Absolut in the corner - so on brand LOL). Sitting at my Babushka’s table with family will forever be my happiest place.