Lyudmila Ospiovaface comm feb 2020.JPG


Tell us a little about your career.

I graduated from the Veterinary Institute and began working in Kazan. In 1974, I took part in the opening of the Moscow Cherkizovsky meat processing plant, and later worked in a senior position at the Ostankino meat processing plant.

How long have you been living in Canada?

My only daughter, after graduating from University in Cyprus and earning a Master's degree, moved to Canada with her husband. I came here to them two-and-a-half years ago.

Where does your family come from?

My grandmother, Dora Alexandrovna Marderfeld, was born in Odessa. Her father, Alexander Abramovich, was a civil servant, and in order to support a large family, he had to work hard. He often traveled on business trips to Europe, from where he brought gifts to every child. I still have a musical doll from Paris. Imagine that the “Parisian” – so affectionately called by everyone – still works to this day: The music sounds, and the porcelain doll holds a pen, an open Hebrew book, and a fan.

At on point, the French embassy in Moscow asked the Russians to transfer old French toys for a good reward, so that they could be sent “to their homeland” to be exhibited in the Toy Museum in Paris. But I couldn’t even allow myself to give my Jewish “Parisian”, because for me this doll is the memory of my beloved grandmother and of my childhood.

My great-grandmother, Berta Mikhailovna, was a housewife and was devoted to raising her six children. All of them received excellent educations and became doctors, an engineer, an opera singer, and a teacher.

My great-grandmother, along with four children (two others already lived independently in Italy and Shanghai), moved from Odessa to be close to relatives in Kazan. My mother was born there. I was also born there.

Although my grandmother had two advanced degrees, due to her nationality she could not get a job in her profession. But, fortunately, she was found work as a teacher in a Jewish kindergarten, where she worked until her retirement.

In the postwar years, people cautiously went to work, because they were not sure whether they would return home or be arrested right on the street. My grandparents would say goodbye every morning, not knowing whether they would see their family in the evening. It was such a terrible time. Nevertheless, they always tried to observe Jewish traditions. Somehow we always had Matzah on Passover. How this happened was, to me as a child, a mystery. But I always anticipated enjoying.

Before moving to Toronto, I lived in Moscow. Most of my life is connected with this city. The most important event for me of those years is the birth of a daughter. She received a brilliant education in Germany, Switzerland, Cyprus and Canada.

In Toronto a new life was opened for me, very different from the previous one: Having plunged head-first into Jewish life and its traditions, I found my Jewish essence. I met with people in the community – like-minded people who share my newly formed views and beliefs. I began to study Jewish literature and now I can proudly declare: “I am Jewish!”

It all started with a banal episode: I came to my friend to support her at a difficult moment and saw the Bernard Betel Center program guide on the table. I went there and offered my help. Being in the Jewish environment, I decided to confirm my Jewish origin, so I connected with the JRCC. I was fortunate: I preserved the original documents of my family tree, starting with the documents of my Jewish grandmother, certified by a rabbi 150 years ago. I think few people have preserved such "ancient" documents!

Since then, I found a second home and a second family at the JRCC, without which I can’t imagine my life. I began started working as a volunteer and immediately realized that “this is mine!” This is what is close and dear to me! What I love! What I want to do! I call thousands of Jewish families inviting them to JRCC programs, in which I actively participate. Every Shabbat, I am at the JRCC Rockford Synagogue.

What do you do in your free time?

I write poems, which already fill a small book that I am considering publishing. With G‑d’s help, it can work out. I am also working on improving my English, and a deliver lectures in various Toronto communities, where I have developed a following.

What are your plans for the future?

To continue to bring Judaism into the life of my family, and to continue to actively participate in JRCC programs so that our community grows and flourishes.