David Storobin: ‘Yiddishke​it In My Family’

(Monday, March 12th, 2012)

From the start of his campaign for State Senate, Lew Fidler has engaged in nasty, vicious and false negative attacks against me. Realizing that he stands against traditional marriage, against vouchers, in favor of abortions, in favor of higher taxes and otherwise out of step with the people of the district, Mr. Fidler knew that he cannot appeal to the voters by discussing issues. As such, his campaign and its supporters resorted to character assassination.

They said that I was tied to the Nazis. They questioned whether I’m really Jewish. They’ve attacked my profession as an attorney with a false smear. They’ve even repeatedly attacked my mother with words I won’t write here.

Let me set the story straight. I was born in the Soviet Union. My grandparents were born into frum families, but when they were children, Communists came to power and wiped out Yiddishkeit in the Soviet Union.

My maternal grandfather Pinchus knew how to be a shohet, but the only thing we knew is that he would buy and prepare the chicken during important events like weddings and funerals, without telling us why. While I was told of my grandparents’ brothers who got killed as WWII soldiers, I was never told about all the other relatives who perished in the Shoah until we came to the United States.

In the Soviet Union, one could not give his children Jewish names, so if you wanted to name your child after someone named Abraham, you called him Arkady. Sarah became Svetlana. David – my name, and the name of my paternal grandfather after whom I was named – became Dmitry.

This too became an attack against me from the Fidler supporters. They claimed that I renamed myself for this election, an attack that is blatantly false. I legally changed my name when I got my citizenship many years ago, and I have been known as David since my first day in the United States. In fact, even when I got my bris as a baby in 1979, my grandfather Pinchus said a prayer and used the named David for me.

In the Soviet Union, we did what we could. My dad, inspired by Israel’s victory in the Six-Day war, got a bris in 1967 as a 23 year old. After their City Hall wedding, my parents quietly went under a self-made chuppah in the backyard out of sight of others where the only thing they knew how to do is to step on the glass cup. While knowledge of Judaism was impossible to acquire, and could potential subject one to arrest, we would do what we could, though usually without any knowledge of how to do it properly.

In 1991, we were blessed to come to the United States. While we had the right to practice our religion, we did not have the knowledge to know where to begin. Even as we struggled to survive on my mom’s $5 an hour salary working double-shift, we tried to learn. Every Shabbos my mom would light candles. I learned to read Hebrew, and I learned what to say before eating bread or drinking wine. We learned when to fast and when to drink four glasses of wine.

Some things we learned from the right sources. Other times, we’d pick up anything that’s available as a source of information: newspaper articles, TV shows, you name it. As a result, some of the information we got was accurate, but other was not necessarily so. For instance, many years ago, I got an incorrect version of the story of Pesach on the Discovery Channels.

A few years ago, I was lucky enough to find my way into the Gateways program. I finally could learn from the right people. It was no longer learning a bit here and an a bit there. I could finally learn and understand things in an organized fashion, getting information from the right sources. I got to know rabbinical scholars to whom I could to turn to for accurate lessons instead of grabbing knowledge wherever I could find it, such as the Discover Channel, which I learned from my experience at Gateways is wrong and inaccurate.

I still have a lot more to learn and to observe more every day than I observed the day before. I’ve always been honest about this with everyone: the rabbonim, the politicians like Assemblyman Dov Hikind and Councilman David Greenfield, the regular people I would meet while campaigning. The Communists spent 70 years wiping out Yiddishkeit in Russia, and even though the Soviet Union is gone, its legacy is in many ways continuing. My family and I, just like the millions of other Soviet-born Jews, try to learn and grow.

What happened to Soviet Jews is a tragedy and it should never be used by the Fidler campaign or his supporters to try to score political points.

David Storobin.

(YWN Desk – NYC)


12 Comments

  1. ader says:

    The Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim writes, that the entire episode with Avrohom Oveinu and the three Malochim, never actually happened; it was just a vision. Many Reshonim hold that the Sneh story was also just a dream-like vision while Moshe was watcing the sheep.

  2. thecommissioner says:

    well said, I’m very happy the Theyeshivaworld is allowing both sides to get equal time. It just seems unusual that most of the attacks on Storobin is religious based. While I don’t think religion or religious behavior should base a candidates elect ability, I do think that a candidates past statements and “haskamah” for immoral behavior should. I have never met Storobin, but I sure would like to see him in office. I would like to see our Brooklyn version of “the American dream”

  3. Dannyboy says:

    I only have tears in my eyes for what Russian Jewry went through.

  4. A23 says:

    Shaychus?

  5. mark levin says:

    1. What is your point??????

  6. nitpicker says:

    I have no opinion as to whom to vote for in this election.
    I don’t know enough about it. Yet.

    But this debate started because of a misrepresentation
    of Storobin as an orthodox shomer mitzvos.
    That side of that debate clearly won and was proven right.

    as to how much that matters, or how much that hypocrisy matters is a new issue.

  7. Genius says:

    Lets all see if after Dmitry remains “frum” and continues to “try to practice Orthodox Judaism” AFTER he loses the election. I’ll bet you he doesn’t and continues to go clubbing on Shabbos.

  8. deepthinker says:

    A23 says:
    March 12, 2012 at 10:41 am
    Shaychus?

    YES!–Lots of Shaychus.

    The entire filthy, slanderous campaign of fidler has beenbased on demonizing David Storobin–”He’s a skinhead sympathiser,” and when that backfired, “He’s not a sincere Jew.”

    So, David has suffered, and now he’s giving vent to his emotional pain, and setting the record straight.

    Many rabbonim in Flatbush, led by Rav Yisroel Belsky, have declared that it is forbidden to voter for a Sodomist supporter, like Fidler, who advocates the destruction of decent society.

    Fidler has no answer to that, so he is resorting to a despicable smear campaign.

  9. apushatayid says:

    I wish both candidates would stop discussing how frum they are and talk tachlis to the members of the district they wish to represent.

    Discuss your position on school vouchers, property taxes, the definition of marriage, proposed MTA toll increases, proposed con ed rate increases, how would you vote when it comes to the state budget (would you cut services – which ones, would you increase taxes, on whom, by how much).

    I dont care if you go to shul, or do not, or which shul you attend (although I wish both of you would attend services at an orthodox synagogue 3 times a day, 7 days a week – but that is out of concern for you as a fellow jew, not as a politician), I dont care if you learn daf yomi or who your mohel was, if you had one at all as it relates to who I will vote for on the day of the special election. Stick to the things that are important to the electorate, not the 99% of the people who read YWN who are more interested in the trash talk between the two sides. If I wanted trash talk, I would go to rucker park.

  10. Daniel Q Blog says:

    Hello YWN! Thank you at last for this article…
    It’s about time.

    Lew Fidler one can argue has been friendly to frum Jews. Someone who will try to help you (ie Jewish community) if need be. No one can argue that he is a representative at all of the community though. He, as Storobin mentioned, in fact has no real political opinion that is similar to the Frum community. Fidler simply has plan to give us some money, so we should be happy. It’s like a junior high school election. Vote for me, I’ll give you free ice cream. Are we 10 year olds?

    Storobin is not a Yeshiva bochur, he is not Shomer Shabbos fully, but no one can deny that he believes in ALL of the key political positions of our community. And only lashon hara (or more like motzei shem ra) can have one believe that his Yiddishkeit interest is for political gain. We have come to read opinion piece after opinion piece that has not had one first hand account of where Storobin stands, rather second hand information. And then an article that was written not only 8 years ago, but cited Wikipedia and the Discovery Channel. I am BT byself. Let me tell you that pre-Frumkeit, not all my views were Torahdik, is that a chiddush? Does that deserve an exclamation mark in the title, non Frum guy says something dumb? In addition, any real apikorses would not be citing a Discovery channel show and wikipedia as their source of freikeit. Trust me. Fidler goes to a shul, where they preach freikeit (the Conservative shita is that, its not hearsay ,its a fact, Conservatives do not believe in a requirement that Torah was from Har Sinai etc.). Yet according to a few opinion pieces, he is Traditional. If being a conservative Jew nowadays is traditional, then I want a new tradition. Are we so easily duped? In addition, do we really think Rabbanim, who have long not been so involved in these type of elections, are just blindly saying it is assur to vote for Fidler and many supporting Storobin? What about the countless pictures of Rabbanim with Storobin? Are they just pawns in part of the great Russian White Supremacist conspiracy? Did they just add that soundbite that Fidler used “nazi” in describing where Storobin’s articles have been? Ok, you don’t want me mention that, then why is Shlomo Z. Mostofsky asking that it is a good question why his work was “allowed” to be linked to racist websites? Really, he wanted it to be. He is not frei, says Mostofsky, he’s a Nazi. No, no, no, that’s not implied says Fidler. He just wants his work to be linked to Nazi websites… ???

    When do we learn that after all this back scratching to the Democrats, we have pennies to show for it, and a community that economically is on the brink because in large part due to Democratic policies. Not to mention, a state that is flying towards Sodom. Let’s stand up to the loshon hara and support someone who dares to say he’ll represent us as a community not give us our favorite ice cream and sponsor a Kiddush.

  11. yaakov doe says:

    And to think we have another week of this to go. I and very few of the Yeshiva World readers even live in this contested Senatorial district. If I did I would vote for either.

  12. Sinaipres says:

    Frankly I couldn’t care less how frum he is. We are not voting for a local Orthodox Rabbi. I believe the race is for a State Senate. I believe that Storobin as a Republican would be good for the state in general. I also understand that the local democrats have been pretty good to the Jewish community when it comes to bringing social programs and financial aide. But I think its time we stop all the government hand outs. We can go a far way without many of those programs if the tuition situation would of been relieved by school vouchers, which Storobin supports a lot. (Even though with the current governor its not likely). Republican or Democrat, either one will try to bring home as much as possible simply to get re-elected again. Storobin however would not support same gender marriage laws, abortions, and other republican- conservative no-no’s.
    Lets leave his religious observance out of it.

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