|Address||3000 Ocean Parkway |
Brooklyn, New York 11235, United States
Aug 18, 2012 04:27pm
Russian - Anti-Gay Marriage - Pro School Vouchers - Judaism -
|Info|| I came to the United States with my mother twenty years ago at the age of 12. In Russia, she was teaching in medical school. In the United States, for many years she became a person who cleans other people’s homes for a living, before finally landing a job as a social worker. Her life and mine is the story of Jewish immigrants who came during the fall of the Soviet Union, but much more, it is a story of millions who came to the United States from all over the world over hundreds of years, leaving everything behind with nothing but a dream and the hope that their personal sacrifice will lead to a better life for their children. |
Shortly after coming to America, I heard the joke that the words “doctor” and “engineer” translated from Russian to English mean “cleaning woman” and “cab driver.” I saw my uncle, a tough guy who used to manage a restaurant in Russia, break down and cry. But more importantly, I saw my mom and others press forward, never giving up and always teaching me and their children that success lies in hard work and education. While my mother’s current job as a social worker never achieved the prestige of her job in Russia, it is dignified and it taught me that success could be achieved. She fell in love with her new job because she could help people, and that planted a seed in me to succeed, as well as to help my community.
I graduated from law school with a hundred thousand dollars in loans. I started at the very bottom in a law firm. But at the age of 25 I started my own law firm. Since I had only meager savings at this young age, I had to max out my all of my credit cards, the only time in my life when I did not pay them off in full. I started by working out of my friend’s office, then got a virtual office, then a tiny one-room office. Today, I have two real offices with full-time associates and paralegals working for me.
I found the American Dream, but it was important for me to give to others who were the source of strength for me. At Rutgers University School of Law, despite being the youngest student in my class, I not only became the President of the Jewish Law Students Association, but it went from being inactive to the single most active organization on campus.
I am on the Board of Directors of the American Jewish Committee (New York Chapter) and on the Board of Governors of the Raoul Wallenberg Centennial Celebration Commission. The Wallenberg Commission, in honor of Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat who saved 100,000 Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust only to be arrested by the Soviet government, never to be heard from again.
As an active member of the American Jewish Committee, I recently spoke to an audience of 1,300 business and community leaders at the American Jewish Committee’s Global Forum. Only in America can a penniless immigrant grow up to stand on the same stage and speak immediately after the Foreign Minister of Germany and the President of Panama to an audience of some of the most successful people in the country! So I got up and spoke about everything the Jewish community and the United States has given me and millions of others, and how proud it makes me to be an American.
As a proud American patriot, I have also been active in politics ever since arriving in the United States. In 1993, I volunteered for Rudy Giuliani, the following year for George Pataki.
Over the years, I have been interviewed in many media outlets, from Bloomberg News to Fox News radio. The editorial board of the Investor’s Business Daily referred to me as a “global legal expert” and the Examiner called me a “well-recognized legal expert.” I was also profiled or discussed in the New York Times, New York Post, New York Daily News, and a lot of other high profile publications.
I have appeared on Russian-American TV, radio and newspapers on a regular basis for several years, and now any time I am in the presence of older people who prefer Russian-language media, a significant number of them recognize who I am. After Bob Turner’s success in the Russian community during the September 2011 special elections, WNYC radio and Staten Island Advance reached out to me for an interview.
I have also been published in Jewish media. In January 2005, the Jewish Press ran my article on most of its front page and the whole back page. I was also interviewed on The Jewish Channel, on Zev Brenner’s show and in the Jewish Star, as well as in the Russian-language “Jewish World” newspaper.
For the last two and a half years, I have been a Vice-Chair of the Kings County Republican Party, enjoying a close personal relationship with Chairman Craig Eaton. I also assisted in the re-founding of the Brooklyn Young Republicans Club.
My interest in politics stems from my desire to “pay it forward.” So many people helped my mother and me when we arrived in the United States – people who did not know us, people who sacrificed their time and money knowing that I will never be able to pay them back. But what I can do is help those who need help now. Whether it’s teaching English as a Second Language to the elderly or mentoring students who want to become lawyers, I have always tried to be active in community affairs and I have always tried to give back. It’s the only way I can pay back those who once helped me.