Ochi chornye - Black Eyes in New Jersey

Extraordinarily, it seems that we old-timer Israelis are more familiar with the melodies than the Russian speakers themselves.

Yoram Drori
It was at 1:30 in the morning in one of the lecture rooms in the Sheraton Parsippany Hotel in New Jersey when I made what was, for me, a fascinating discovery about the young Russian-speaking Jews who grew up in the former Soviet Union.

Many dozens of the hundreds of participants in a just-concluded Limmud FSU festival sat in a circle and enthusiastically joined in a spontaneous singalong in the center of which was a young singer, Iryna Rosenfeld. The 24-year-old from Kiev had won second place in the local version of A Star is Born. She was accompanied by a virtuoso accordionist, Ronen Hoffman, who is better-known to Israelis as a Knesset member for the Yesh Atid political party. Iryna sang in Russian, Yiddish, English, and notably, in Hebrew.

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