Alex Rif
Social-Cultural Entrepreneur, Founder of The Cultural Brigade and Israeli-Russian Poet

The Unlit Independence Day Torch

I, Alex Rif, am not lighting an Independence Day torch but were I to light one, it would be in deep gratitude to you, my parents.
Mom and Dad, you came to Israel in 1991 from Ukraine, to start afresh at the age of 42. In a heartbeat, you became deaf and dumb. You worked several jobs, employed as poorly paid contract workers, just to earn a leaving. You sacrificed your lives for us, your children so that we would have a chance in this country.
I wish to apologize to you. It took me years to appreciate your sacrifice. Years during which I wanted to erase my culture of origin and “be Israeli”. I was embarrassed by my home and my language, of you and your jobs, thinking that this would be my road to acceptance. And indeed I was accepted, although the emptiness inside kept growing.
Today I wish to tell you that I admire you. You continued working in cleaning and as an electrician throughout the COVID-19 period, although you are far past retirement age, because “there is nobody to replace me” and because bills won’t pay themselves. You taught me the meaning of hard work, of pursuing goals, of sacrifice, of family. It is due to you that today I am at peace with both my identities; the USSR one and the Israeli one, and can pass this on to my son, your first Tsabar grandson
I wish to dedicate this torch I am not lighting to the cleaners and security guards, cashiers, and nurses to the elderly, delivery and service workers, and their exhausting, grueling daily labor. Without you, this country would not function. Without you, we would not exist. You are the pride of the State of Israel.
About the Author
Alex Rif synthesizes storytelling and cultural-hacking with her public policy experience to amplify unheard voices in Israeli society – in particular, Russian-speaking immigrants, women, and Arabs. Founder and CEO of The Cultural Brigade, she helped rebrand Russian-Israeli culture and made the Russian-speaking immigrants feel at home. Alex was recognized by ‘Lady Globes’ as one of the 20 most influential Israeli female activists. She is the author of the award-winning poetry book, ‘Silly Girl of the Regime'.
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