Tell us a little about your career.
I graduated from the Mechanical Engineering Department of the Bauman Moscow State Technical University. I was involved in the installation of 50,000 elevators, escalators and lifts in various buildings and structures, but there were three iconic projects in my life: the World Trade Center, the embassy building in Havana, and the Government House in Moscow. In the 1990s I worked as director of the Russian branch of the American company Otis, the world's largest elevator manufacturer. In 1993, President Boris Yeltsin awarded me the title of Honored Builder of the Russian Federation.

Which neighborhood do you live in, and why did you choose that are?
We live in the Willowdale area of Toronto. It is close to Jewish communities and to the subway station, which is convenient because my wife does not drive.

Where does your family come from?
I'll start with my Jewish roots, since not everyone with a simple Slavic surname has such deep Jewish roots. My paternal grandfather, Moshe Berkov Kachenov (as it is written in the certificate from the Rabbinate, signed by the official rabbi) was a Lubavitch Chassid, born and lived in the town of Lubavitch. He was a Cohen, an expert in the Talmud, and descended from a family of Torah scholars. In 1899, his wife and children died of the plague. After this misfortune, he left Lubavitch and came to the city of Mstislavl, in the Smolensk region, where he married my grandmother, Sara Zalmanova, who was also from a Chassidic family. They had five children, the third of which is my father, Avsey Moishe Kachenov. 3

As I mentioned, my grandfather was a Talmudist, and he was an active member of the Mstislavl Jewish community – as much as possible in the USSR at that time. In 1933, after Yom Kippur, he was taken to the GPU (State Political Directorate). For two days they "worked seriously" with him, and let him go home. Three days later, my grandfather was gone.

My father Avsey finished cheder in Mstislavl, and wrote and spoke Yiddish. In the early 1920s, like many Jews from the surrounding townships, he left for Moscow. After the funeral of his father, he brought his mother Sara to Moscow. Later, his sisters also joined them there. But based on a libel from Mstislavl, the GPU pursued him and did not leave him alone, and he left for the Far East. There he worked as the chief of communications for one of the detachments in the BAMLAG labor camps, where one and a half million prisoners and civilians were building a new Trans-Siberian Railway.

He returned to Moscow in 1939. My grandmother Sara still lived in Moscow with her eldest daughter. She wrote only in Yiddish. They lived in the center, and my grandmother went on foot to the synagogue on Arkhipov Street and observed kosher dietary laws. In 1948, when Golda Meir visited this synagogue for the first time, my grandmother Sara sat next to her. This balcony seat is easy to find as there is a plaque in honor of the famous Golda.

My mother's grandmother was named Golda, a native of Mogilev – that is, we are one hundred percent Litvaks [Lithuanian]. At the end of the 19th century, after the Jewish pogrom in Mogilev, my grandmother's brother left for America with his family. There his new life began. Grandma Golda lived with her eldest daughter in a large communal apartment in the center of Moscow. We celebrated all Jewish holidays there. She observed kosher and knew all the secrets of Jewish cuisine. In Passy she baked matzo. My sisters and I helped her, and the multinational neighbors - it was normal in those years, watching us.

I was born and studied in Moscow. I have been together with my wife Marina for over fifty years. Her Jewish roots are from Latvia. In addition to her grandmother and mother, all her relatives died either in the Riga ghetto, in Salaspils, in Auschwitz, or in Kazakhstan and Siberia in the USSR from Stalin's repressions. Marina's father is a Jew from Dvinsk. He went through the whole war, was a hero of the Battle of Stalingrad, and liberated Auschwitz.

We have two sons and six grandchildren - all Cohens of course, descendants of the family of Aaron the High Priest. From 1991 until we left for Canada, our family took an active part in the life of the synagogue on Bolshaya Bronnaya. It was built as a home synagogue in the 19th century by the owner of the Russian railways Lazar Polyakov. It was restored and reopened by order of the Rebbe, who said: “There is a real synagogue in Moscow and it may disappear.” Rabbi Isaac (Izya) Kogan, the Rebbe's emissary, put a lot of work and effort to open it again. A Board of Trustees of the synagogue was created, which I was part of. I had a chance to participate in the reconstruction of the synagogue on Bolshaya Bronnaya and implement the instructions of the Rebbe.

Do you have any hobbies?
I write poems and stories. For many years they were published in the magazine “Lechaim” and “Informspace.”, published in Russia and Israel. I am fond of demography. From time to time I give lectures on demography at the Bernard Betel Center. Together with my wife, we constantly participate in the life of the Jewish community, at our local Willowdale JRCC headed by Rabbi Yisroel Zaltzman. We celebrate all Jewish holidays in this community and wish it prosperity with all our hearts.