To Russia with Disgust
A Poem by Dr. Barry Lubetkin / New York City
When I was a year old, the Russians were saviors.
They unlocked the gates at Buchenwald and fed and freed the starving prisoners.
They perished in the snow by the tens of thousands
protecting their precious Leningrad.
They joined our GIs with smiles and handshakes
as together the evil enemy was vanquished.
...and then the angels died.
Brick by brick they walled off the world from the warmth of freedom.
So many millions cried out from enslavement.
So many millions searched for truth in vain.
So many millions were tortured, killed by the masters and their puppets.
When I was 30 years old my eyes saw it.
In Kiev, the beleaguered and terrified rabbis fed us matzo with anti-Israeli filth taped
to each piece.
In Leningrad, we gave jeans and T-shirts to teenagers on buses
and were scorned and followed by plain-clothes police agents.
In Moscow, we lectured to colleagues about advances
in our understanding of human sexuality,
and were not so quietly told to leave the classroom with our pornographic ideas.
Only the beaches in Sochi with their hard black pebbles for sand
allowed us to escape the sadness that surrounded us.
After the revulsion I felt upon this discovery,
my Russian grandparents’ words flooded my brain.
“Remember the Cossacks and their vicious anti-Semitic programs.
Remember the Free Soviet Jews movement in the ‘70s
that helped our people move to new lands
where they could freely practice their rituals.
Remember Stalin, Lenin…Remember, boychik,
these people have always hated us.”
And then the empire of menace dissolved under the flag of freedom
and for the briefest moment in time
the world had a chance to recover.
I am now in my 70s
and the beating heart of evil has found new breath and fresh blood
in its rage to recover all of its broken pieces.
And its missing artery is a free and democratic Ukraine.
And just as it shared the world’s joy at the end of World War II,
Russia reaches for the hammer and the sickle again
and takes the world along as it lurches
toward the next world war.
Barry Lubetkin, Ph.D. is the co-director and co-founder of the Institute for Behavior Therapy in New York City. The Institute for Behavior Therapy is the oldest private cognitive behavior center in the United States.