Lev's Journey: "I came to the US with no money. Today, I have lots of help from JF&CS. I am very lucky."

November 01, 2023

Lev's Journey: "I came to the US with no money. Today, I have lots of help from JF&CS. I am very lucky."

Lev's story is one that has deeply touched the hearts of us at JF&CS and in our community. We had the gift of telling his story at last year's Community of Giving event.

On November 28, we will be sharing more stories of the impact JF&CS has been able to make in the lives of people like Lev through the generous support of our community during our virtual Community of Giving event. Click here for more information, and to purchase your ticket.

Born into a life of war, poverty, and antisemitism, Holocaust Survivor, Lev, became a brilliant engineer, had a beautiful family, lived in multiple countries and never stopped looking at the bright side of life. Since moving to Atlanta a few years ago, Lev has needed and been very grateful for support from the Holocaust Survivor Support Services.

Lev was born in Crimea, in 1941 just before the war started. His dad was a physicist and taught him at six years old how to develop photographs. His family escaped to Uzbekistan, one month before Germany invaded Crimea. It was two years before his father could come join them. The family was in hiding while in Uzbekistan. As a young child, he was sick from malnutrition and almost died.

After the war, the family came back to Crimea. Over the years, Lev worked hard and received two degrees in physics. He got married and worked as an engineer for many years, and taught physics at a university. He wrote a dissertation and tried to get PhD but was denied because he was Jewish. Sadly, they were still dealing with a lot of antisemitism. His older daughter graduated and got top grades in high school. Someone wrote Jew on her photo, crossing out her face.

He decided it was time to leave, and in 1984, his family immigrated to the United States.

“I had two hands, I had a brain, two kids, my wife, mom’s sister and her husband. I wanted a better life for my kids. I hope my grandson will have a much better life. I came to the US with no money.”

Lev and his family moved to Michigan, where he had relatives. His first job was cleaning offices. But his talent was noticed quickly, and the manager where he worked had him fixing lights, and other electronics. He built his new life there. Years later, after his wife passed away, Lev and his family moved to Atlanta.

Making Connections in Atlanta

A friend told him to contact JF&CS. Anat Granath became his social worker, and has worked with him for four years.

He started attending Café Europa and relished getting together with other survivors and Russian speakers. He also helped with planting the daffodil garden in remembrance of Jewish children who were killed in the Holocaust. He shared his extensive gardening knowledge.

“When I came here, I didn’t know a lot of people. It’s very important, critical to have people together – older people like me,” he said.

Anat arranged to help him with medical and dental bills, and provided support for other needs.

“During the pandemic, I could not drive. Anat called me every week, and asked what I needed. She brought me food from the pantry, arranged my vaccination, helped me get house cleaning when I had medical challenges, and helped with medical and dental bills,” he said.

Lev appreciates being able to go to the food pantry himself and choose what he needs. He comes once a week to the food pantry.

"Lev loves life, he's a happy person. he doesn't let his past trauma affect his life now," said Anat.

“Today, I have lots of help from JF&CS. It’s a beautiful organization. I cannot believe the support I have. Thank you so much. I am very lucky," he said.

Watch Lev's Story