JOURNEYS FROM UKRAINE: An Evening of Stories, Food, and Fundraising
Join us for an evening of stories, food and fundraising for Ukraine Forward, a Boston-based nonprofit supplying the people of Ukraine with vital, urgently needed aid, on Thursday, August 11th at 5pm. The event features Yelena Lembersky, Leningradian-raised author who will be sharing her family’s story, and discussing and signing copies of her recently released memoir, Like a Drop of Ink in a Downpour: Memories of Soviet Russia. Sofiya Penek Klein, longtime Brewster Book Store customer with deep Ukrainian roots, provided inspiration for the event and will be sharing her story as well.
Yelena Lembersky grew up in Leningrad with several hundred artworks by her grandfather, Felix Lembersky (1913-1970), the prominent artist who resisted the Soviet-mandated Socialist Realism. For political reasons, much of this work could not be exhibited in the Soviet Union. In the 1980s, Yelena’s mother, Galina, embarked on a difficult journey to save this art and get it out of Russia. Instead she was incarcerated on criminal charges trumped-up by the KGB. At the age of eleven, Yelena was left without a family. This memoir, which Yelena co-wrote with Galina, describes their life and escape from the Soviet Union, offering a riveting and often humorous mix of personal stories, political history, and a unique mother-and-daughter perspective on the roots of Putin’s Russia.
Yelena was a recent guest on NPR’s Here & Now and Radio Boston. Reviews of her memoir were published by The Los Angeles Review of Books and Times of Israel, among others. Her work appeared in World Literature Today, The New Yorker, The Forward, and Cardinal Points Literary Journal. She holds degrees in art and architecture from the University of Michigan and MIT, and lives with her family near Boston.
Sofiya Penek Klein and her family are originally from Berdichev, Ukraine, and emigrated to Boston in 1997. Sofiya's family left Ukraine due to the extremely difficult economic situation, as well as the systematic oppression of Jews and Ukrainians during the time of the Soviet Union. Building on Sofiya's brother's efforts that started in 2014, Sofiya's family has been working with a network of volunteers to support front line troops across Ukraine. They closely partner with local small businesses to raise awareness, fundraise, and ship medical supplies directly to Ukraine. Since February 2022, the Penek Family has partnered with over 30 local businesses, raised $40,000, and shipped 3000 pounds of medical supplies to Ukraine.
Brewster Book Store will be raising funds for Ukraine Forward throughout the month of August. Ukraine Forward was launched in February 2022 by a group of Boston-based Ukrainians in response to the full-scale Russian invasion. The goal of the organization is to supply people of Ukraine with vital, urgently needed aid, including tactical medicine, equipment and medical supplies. Partnering with hospitals, universities, volunteer organizations, and territorial defense units, the team identifies needs, procures supplies, and ships to distribution points across Ukraine. To date, the group has raised over $500,000 in donations and shipped over 20,000 pounds of supplies to Ukraine. Ukraine Forward is an initiative of Ukrainian-American Education Center of Boston (a 501(c)(3) non-profit)
Brewster Book Store customers can shop in-store and online from curated a selection of books related to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine and the experience of refugees throughout the world. Books were picked with readers of all ages in mind. 20% of proceeds from the sales will be donated to Ukraine Forward. Money raised from the JOURNEYS FROM UKRAINE event will also be donated.
For additional information about Yelena Lembersky:
Here & Now with Robin Young, National Public Radio, an interview
This Feeling will never Leave Me, a review by Herb Randall at the Los Angeles Review of Books, January 18, 2022