Marina and her husband, Felix, young daughter Mariana, and mother-in-law Ida, left the USSR in the summer of 1975. She had to leave her family and friends behind not knowing if she would ever see them again. It was truly a “leap of faith.”
After spending about two weeks in Vienna, Austria, and then six months in Rome, Italy, her family was invited to Hartford Connecticut after being sponsored by the Jewish Family Service. They arrived in Hartford on January 16, 1976.
What makes someone leave everything they know and love behind and risk their lives? The question is very simple, but the answer is quite complex.
Nothing was possible in the Soviet Union. There was no place to live, no freedom of speech or freedom of religion, and food was scarce. Choices were made for you by the government.
So at the age of 21, being a young mother who didn’t speak English, Marina and her husband were so inspired to work hard and make sure their daughter will never experience hunger or fear, and that she will have the choices of where to live, what to do, and what to think.
Felix immediately began work at the General Elevator Company while Marina started teaching gymnastics at the local YWCA.
Felix and Marina opened their gymnastics school, along with a ballet studio and day care, in Jacksonville, Florida in October 1980.