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Turning Tides: More than Money

As told to Leah Gebber

Where I come from in Russia, no one earns enough to survive. No, people are expected to “supplement” through corruption. If you want a driver’s license within a few weeks rather than a few years, you slip the official some crisp bills — only to lubricate the system, of course.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

But my husband, although he was an engineer and could have extracted bribes from many people, refused to do so. For one thing, he said that we are Jews of the Torah, and in the Torah it is written: “Keep far from falsehood.” The second reason was more practical. “As soon as one accepts a bribe,” my husband said, “you are under that person’s control. He knows that you have broken the law and are ethically impeachable. That is why there is so much corruption here — because the authorities wish that everyone should be under their little finger.” Thus it happened that when my husband contracted an infection in his heart and was admitted to the hospital, I did not have the money to slip into the hand of the head surgeon. There was a young doctor, a kind man, who tried to help my husband, but expert care was needed, and I could not afford to provide it. Thus my husband returned his soul to his Maker when he was still young. It is hard to be a widow, but in Russia we know that life is hard. Just like in the winter, when we wrap up warm and trudge through the snow, and have the courage to get out of bed in the morning though the apartment is icy, so I had the fortitude to trudge through life. It is hard? Feh. Who had time to dwell on that when there was money to be earned and food to be bought and my daughters to educate?

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