Tum Balalaika

Russian and Jewish is my ancestry, for good and ill.


My Bubbie flatly refused to speak Russian anymore once she was here. She'd barely made it out ahead of the 1917 revolution. Her husband did not make it. My oldest uncle, Moishe (Murray) caught a bullet in his butt, but recovered. My second oldest uncle, Aaron (Harry) was still inside Bubbie as she fled. So no, once she got away from all that, she had no further need of Russian.

But when she heard me sing this, after I had learned it in a music class at school, she smiled.

This article was updated on May 9, 2023

David F