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Danielle Sobkin

Introductions and Intersections

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https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-writing-on-a-notebook-4240497/

B’ruchim Habaim! Welcome!

Stories emerge from the most unexpected corners of our hearts. My journey begins in Russian traditions and leads to the melting pot of cultures in America. Yet, echoing in the background of each chapter and resonating with every word, is an unshakable bond to a land I’ve yet to call home – Israel. 

Born to a lineage of first-generation Soviet Jews, my parents are the embodiment of resilience, having fled the Soviet Union. Their stories of struggle and survival, of dreaming and daring, have been my bedtime stories. Tales that have kindled a passion to chronicle stories, to raise my voice, and to write. As refugees, my parents found sanctuary in America, and in their journey, they taught me about the infinite power of stories – stories that bridge worlds, defy odds, and unite souls. From the struggles against the oppressive Soviet regime to the magic of new beginnings in the land of the free, every story contained a lesson, a memory, an emotion. Each narrative was a testament to human spirit, and they instilled in me an insatiable thirst to challenge, explore, and share. 

Growing up, I was more than just a child to my parents; I was the embodiment of their American dream. They left behind the familiarity of Russia, carrying with them hopes and aspirations, planting them firmly in the soil of America. These hopes sprouted in the form of expectations placed upon me. In their eyes, I was to live not just my own dreams, but theirs as well – to chase every opportunity, to scale every mountain, to seize every moment they couldn’t.

While this inheritance of dreams was a profound gift, it came with its own set of challenges. The weight of their aspirations, the drive to fulfill what they had once envisioned for themselves, bore down on me. It often felt as though I was navigating a sea of boundless opportunities, but also battling the undercurrents of immense expectations. The feeling was relentless: the need to do more, be more, and achieve everything.

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, my best friend – who was also the daughter of immigrants –  and I launched a podcast, ‘Women & Work.’ We hoped to carve out a niche, a space to discuss the challenges, successes, and intricacies of being a woman in today’s rapidly changing workforce, and how we can refine our own understanding of success. Little did we know that this silly project would set the foundation for many more endeavors to come.

A leap from high school corridors to the vibrant UC Berkeley college campus, my freshman enthusiasm found another outlet. I started my second podcast, whimsically naming it ‘Do It To It’. If ‘Women & Work’ was about introspection and dialogue, ‘Do It To It’ was about action, inspiration, and diving deep into our passions, quite literally doing what our heart tells us to.

Through all this, you might wonder, why Israel? Why a bond with a land thousands of miles away, one I’ve never called home? The answer lies in my roots. Just as my Russian heritage and American upbringing have shaped me, Israel’s stories – its history, its people, its spirit – have always resonated deeply with me. I am excited to utilize this column as a unique bridge, connecting my personal experiences to the deep-seated passion I hold for my family’s roots. 

This column is an invitation to join me on this journey. Together, let’s explore stories that interweave cultures, traditions, and histories. Let’s embark on a journey where our personal tales meet the broader tapestry of life, where connections are made, and differences are celebrated.  Our stories are more than just chronicles of our past; they are bridges to understanding, empathy, and connection. As we navigate this narrative together, I challenge you to delve deeper, to see the reflections of your own stories, and to recognize the threads of connection that unite us all. 

From My Narrative to Yours, 

Danielle 

About the Author
Danielle Sobkin is a student at the University of California, Berkeley pursuing a double major in Data Science and Economics. With a deep connection to the global Jewish community, she has served on the Hillel International Student Cabinet (HISC) and works as a Data Scientist with Jewish on Campus (JOC). As the daughter of Soviet refugees and a first-generation student, Danielle draws inspiration from her unique background and aims to connect with others through her writing. She is passionate about conveying the importance of Jewish Joy in everyday life and creating a more inclusive and understanding community.
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