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The #etnographquarantinedan, Episode 2: Anatoly, 33, and Alexander, 6, Siberia, Russia

The conversation was held in broken English. 

Anatoly is staying at the Dan Hotel with his wife and their son, Alexander. When I asked him why they decided to make aliyah, he said that they want to live in Israel for a year and then determine whether to stay in Israel or move on to another country. After the quarantine period, they will be taken to Kibbutz Revivivim in the south of Israel to learn Hebrew as part of the Jewish Agency project First Home in the Homeland. The project offers young families the opportunity to live in a kibbutz in the Negev or the Galilee for their first 6 or 12 months in Israel and study Hebrew in an ulpan (Hebrew language school for new immigrants). 

Anatoly and I can barely understand each other. He doesn't speak good English, and I don't know any Russian. However, he manages to say that he really wants us to keep on talking because he needs to practice his English: "Hebrew is important, but English will help me get along anywhere I go." Anatoly studied public relations in Russia but never worked in the field. He has been to the USA twice: the first time, he worked as a lifeguard in a swimming pool in Miami, Florida, and the second time, he and his wife went to New York, where he worked as a cyclist for Central Park Carriage Rides. 

I asked Anatoly about the COVID-19 situation in Russia, and he replied: "There are cases of corona in Russia, but the authorities have hidden the problem, and nobody believes anybody. It is indeed compulsory to wear a mask in public, but no one does it." Here in Israel, he is not frightened of the virus; neither is he disturbed by the Israeli heat. In Siberia, it's freezing in the winter, but he said that in the summer it's even hotter than Tel Aviv.   

During our conversation, Anatoly was busy taking care of Alexander. I asked him whether they were going crazy in quarantine and how they spent their time. In response, he showed me a huge chessboard and told me that he is teaching Alexander how to play. They play all day long, running tournaments from dawn to dusk.  

Our conversation ended once Alexander started tossing toys down to the balconies below.   

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