My amazing friend Marissa Murray, one of my first friends I made while working in DC, wrote this amazing passage for Livlyhood about her beautiful Ukrainian great grandmother.
This is my great-grandma Mollie. Mollie grew up in western Ukraine and was Jewish. She chose to leave the generational home of her family just prior to World War I to emigrate to the United States.
98 years after Mollie came to the United States, I moved to Ukraine as a missionary for The Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Half of my time in Ukraine was spent in the capital city of Kyiv. The other half of my time was spent in L’viv, a city about 25 miles north of where Mollie grew up. I loved L’viv and it felt good to be there. I wasn’t able to visit my family’s village, but I felt at home being so close. I had hoped to go back this Summer to search for remnants of my family.
Our records are sparse. I have no idea what Mollie’s native language was, I don’t know how she felt about leaving Ukraine, I don’t know if she spent time in the places I spent time. But I know that leaving her home very likely saved her life. Because of her, I have always felt deeply connected to the history of the Jewish people. I have heard and searched for their stories since I was young. After living in Ukraine, I have felt deeply connected to the lives and stories of the Ukrainian people.
Knowing those stories, now more than ever, is critical. Understanding their history matters now more than ever. And now more than ever, I am proud of where and who I’ve come from.