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Video Description
Ana Sazonov is the Executive Director of the Columbia Jewish Federation. Ana was born in Ukraine to a non-Jewish mother and a father who repressed his Jewish identity. Her family became Ukrainian in every way, which helped them to survive antisemitic attacks. Ana grew up as a Ukrainian girl with no knowledge of Judaism or Israel. After the Soviet Union collapsed, the Jewish Agency sprang into action, promoting the Law of Return, and offering her family the chance to make Aliyah and start a new life in the Promised Land. Aliyah to Israel allowed Ana to grapple with her Jewish identity like few Jews do.

Ana served two years in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) as a Basic Training Commander and trained IDF soldiers to be combat-ready. Ana holds a bachelor’s degree with honors from Ruppin Academic Center in Business and Economics, a masters degree in Jewish Professional Leadership, and a masters in Nonprofit Management at the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program and The Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. She has explored different fields, such as advertising, crowdfunding, and development.

Ana served as the Israel Fellow (emissary) to Emory University Hillel in Atlanta, Georgia, where she oversaw everything related to Israel, from education to programming and experience. In addition, she created RSJ@ATL, a platform which provides hundreds of Russian-speaking Jews in Atlanta the opportunity to connect to their Jewish roots and have a sense of community.

As a response to COVID-19, Ana founded JewBer, a Jewish startup that delivers kosher Shabbat meals to Jewish frontline heroes, low-income seniors and families, and Holocaust survivors in the greater Boston area. JewBer has delivered over 5,000 meals with the help of more than 100 volunteers.

This episode was recorded on April 25, 2022.

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Additional links:
Ana on Fox News:
Ukraine Emergency Fund:
Shield Ukraine:

0:00 Opening
1:04 Jewish life in Ukraine in the 20th century
7:44 Childhood in Ukraine
9:17 Moving to Israel
10:36 Immigration from the Former Soviet Union
14:11 Defining identity
16:00 Joining the army
17:55 Conversion to Judaism
23:13 Post-army life and meeting American Jews
26:29 Birthright Israel
30:40 Brandeis
31:31 JewBer
34:28 Executive Director of a Jewish Federation
35:32 Jewish life in Columbia, South Carolina
38:13 War in Ukraine
44:58 Helping Ukrainian refugees
47:32 Meeting Ukrainian refugees at the border
49:46 The refugees' journey to safety
57:48 Passover with Ukrainian refugees
59:25 Israel's policies on the war in Ukraine
1:03:27 Israeli public opinion on the war in Ukraine
1:09:28 A Jewish president of Ukraine
1:14:05 Conclusion