When he’s not running the amazing Jewish community group for Druzya DC: Jews of the FSU, hiking across Shenandoah, or working as an engineer, Maxim is…eating hamantaschen?! Get to know the founder of Druzya DC with our exclusive 1:1 interview!
Allie: I hear you helped start the group Druzya DC, tell me a little bit about this group and what motivated you to start it?
Maxim: Druzya DC was organized by two of my friends. We wanted to unite the Russian-Jewish community. I come from the NY/NJ area where the sense of the Russian-Jewish community is very strong. Growing up, if I wanted to find a Russian store, doctor, lawyer, or plumber – all I had to do was ask and the community would take care of the rest. When I came to DC, this sense of community for Russian Jews did not exist yet, and I wanted to create it. Two of my friends that founded Druzya DC with me eventually left to follow other life ambitions, but I continue to run it in my spare time. I love bringing people together. You can check out our Facebook page with events and details.
Allie: In what ways do you think Russian Jews differ from American Jews?
Maxim: If you know American Jews and Israeli Jews, Russian Jews would fit somewhere in the middle. American Jews grew up with the safety and freedom inherent in their country. Russian Jews grew up with anti-Semitism, government oppression, and The Gulag. Although many American Jews have not been tempered by these same experiences, they serve as great examples about how much you can achieve, while being Jewish. In politics and religion, I think many Russian and American Jews can be polar opposites. Many Russian Jews grew up after the monarchies fell and were replaced by a variety of socialist systems. They saw what these kinds of governments can do to people– and because of this – tend to lean right. They also differ on religion. Many American Jews believe in God and are religiously observant. In my experience, I notice that Russian Jews, who grew up in a country with no or little religion, are not as observant. Many see being Jewish as less of a religion and more of a culture with certain beliefs, spirituality, and traditions.
Allie: What do you love about the Jewish community in DC?
Maxim: Coming from a very large Jewish community in NY/NJ, it has been wonderful to be a part of a Jewish community in DC that is slightly smaller. This smaller size allows the people in it to integrate and become closer to one another. It’s nice to have a place where everyone knows each other, hangs out at events, and if they ever need something, I know someone who can help.
Allie: What do you like to do for fun outside of work?
Maxim: Nature is my thing. I love getting lost in Shenandoah National Park; it is my home away from home. Nothing beats heading out into the deep woods, roasting something on a fire, and letting the sound of forest and nature engulf you.
Allie: What are you most excited about in 2018?
Maxim: New opportunities, new friends and new adventures! Life continues to move along, and we should enjoy every moment of it.
Allie: What’s your favorite Jewish food?
Maxim: I can eat Hamentashen all day!
Allie: What is your best piece of life advice?
Maxim: Never let life bring you down. Things happen, and you can’t control that. You should never spend your energy trying to control things. Instead, take the good with the bad and continue marching on. Sometimes, life events are like buses – if one comes that you don’t want or like, wait a little, and there will be another one in 15 minutes.
Allie: What’s your favorite way to spend Shabbat?
Maxim: With close friends
Allie: Complete the sentence: When Jews of DC Gather…
Maxim: …fun and music don’t stop until the light of dawn.