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Jewish Journal

Obituaries:Josif Kirtsman, 50

by Tom Tugend

March 15, 2001 | 7:00 pm

Josif Kirtsman, 50

Josif Kirtsman was born in 1951 in Odessa, Ukraine. His whole family planned to follow his aunt and uncle, who had emigrated to America in 1912. Moving to the United States was the family's dream for many years. At 6 years old, Josif realized that he was Jewish and not welcome in his own country. In 1962, he received a parcel from his uncle in America and began his own dream of emigrating to the United States.

Josif married his wife Ludmillain in 1972. His first son, Dimitry, was born in 1975. In 1978, he prepared to leave Russia to start a new life in America, but his visa was repeatedly refused. By 1986, his wife was pregnant with their second child. He applied to leave the country an eighth time. After years of disappointment, hope and faith kept him going. The first 25 Jews before him in line were refused. Miraculously, Josif and his family were permitted to leave. It was July 1, 10 days after his second son, Igor, was born. His dream had finally come true.

It took Josif one month to go through the Russian bureaucracy, to get tickets and visas, and to leave the country by train. After 10 hours, the train crossed the border into Austria and they started screaming that they were finally free. Three days later, they took a train to Italy, stopping in Rome. He lived for four months in the small city of Ladispoli, 20 miles from Rome.

In the beginning of November, he received visas for his family to enter the United States. On Nov. 12, 1986, he arrived at JFK and then went on to Los Angeles.

After arriving in America, Josif worked in an upholstery store as his father had. Following that, he became the head financial officer at Sinai Temple for 11 years. He was a wry, thoughtful and warm man. He was loved by his family and treasured by his many friends. Josif Kirtsman will be deeply missed.

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