Aleksandr Ostrovsky

As Interveiwed bt Ava B., on March 21, 2015
"In, I don't remember, ‘74 or ‘75, the Communist party of Russia decided that desire to leave the Soviet Union is a symbol of mental illness—you must be crazy to decide to leave the Soviet Union"
Aleksandr Ostrovsky

Introductory Profile: About Aleksandr Ostrovsky

For my project, I interviewed my grandpa Aleksandr Ostrovsky. He told me about his times living in Soviet Russia during communism and his experience with anti-Semitism. He didn't like to use the term communism, though, because he thought that even though the Russian government called it communism, it seemed much more like socialism. He also explained that because he was living in Baku (a city in Azerbaijan) his experience with anti-Semitism was different from when he lived in Moscow. For example, when he applied to the University of Moscow for college, he had to put on his application that he was Jewish, and the moment the admission officials saw that he was a Jew they declined him. Because of this, he went to the Baku University, which had a much larger tolerance of Jews but wasn't the school he wanted to attend.

My grandfather has a very unique and interesting personality. He is not afraid to ask for what he wants and can be a little stubborn. He is one of the smartest people I know, and it is very important to him to keep his mind active with books, puzzles, etc. All in all, he is very easy-going and loving of his family. Aleksandr was born on July 11, 1934 and is currently 80 years old. He was born in the city of Baku and later moved to Moscow. He was an only child but was very close to his cousins. On December 31, 1976 Aleksandr and his family got permission from the KGB to come to America. Because of the difficulty of finding a place to stay, they had to stay in Italy for about 4 months. While they were in Italy, Aleksandr found out that they had to choose from 3 places to stay in America: Houston, Philadelphia, and Chicago. Aleksandr chose Houston because of the articles he read about it in an American library. In June of 1977, Aleksandr and his family, including my mom, moved to Houston Texas.

During the interview there were many mixed moods. I noticed that while talking to Aleksandr about topics such as how he and his family were affected by anti-Semitism and communism, he would become very serious, but while talking about things such as moving to America and leaving Russia, he would become very happy and excited. I enjoyed listening to his change in mood because it really set the tone of the interview and allowed me to “step into his shoes.”

In my interview, my grandpa showed how he is a wonderful, loving, and caring person. He also showed how serious topics like anti-Semitism and communism shaped his life. I enjoyed talking to him because of the emotions that he showed and the mood he set.