Opening Our Home to Ukrainian Refugees

More than a century after my own great-grandfather left Odessa for America, a family from Kharkiv found refuge in our house in New York.

“I have a black-and-white photograph of a man in his 20s: dark wavy hair, mustached, staring grimly at the camera. On the back, the name of the studio in Odessa where it was taken. It is my great-grandfather Morris Verechovsky. He came to America shortly after the photo was taken, changed his name to Morris White, and married my great-grandmother Sarah, whom I knew when I was a young child. I don’t know much more about Morris. Nevertheless, when a fellowship program for Jewish professionals brought me to Odessa in 2008, I asked my Ukrainian colleague Alina to take me to the address on the back of the photo. I felt I was reaching into the past as I stood in the doorway my great-grandfather had once crossed, if only to have his photograph taken, trying to understand something about his story and therefore my own. Fourteen years later, I read the news in horror as people fled for their lives after Russia invaded Ukraine.”

Read the full essay in Tablet

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