An urgent appeal:Jews asked to write letters on behalf of deported Russian emigre

It’s a last-ditch effort, but it may be her only hope.

The Bay Area Council for Jewish Rescue and Renewal is asking members of the Jewish community to write their representatives, asking them to intervene on behalf of Yana Slobodova, the emigre piano teacher who was deported to her native Russia in February.

The plea, which also calls for letters to the Department of Homeland Security, is in the form of an open letter to the community, published in this week’s j. The letter will also be online at

“Yana is in really terrible shape,” said Pnina Levermore, executive director of the BACJRR. “She’s really descended into a pretty severe depression.”

Slobodova is five months pregnant and is not only depressed but almost bedridden due to complications with her pregnancy. Her mother, a naturalized U.S. citizen, is with her, helping to take care of her 2-year-old son, Nikita, while her husband, Alexander Makarchuk, is here in San Francisco, unable to work because of a back injury.

Makarchuk has gone back and forth since his wife’s deportation, and plans to return to Russia in October to be with her for the delivery of their daughter in November. A U.S. citizen, Makarchuk cannot stay in St. Petersburg permanently because he is Ukrainian, not Russian.

Additionally, “There’s been this really troubling wave of neo-Nazi activities in Russia,” Levermore added. “They are becoming increasingly brazen.”

Last month, Slobodova’s attorney filed a request for “humanitarian parole,” which would have allowed her back into the country while she continues to appeal the decision that led to her deportation. The request was denied.

“The denial of human parole in this situation is outrageous, and the continued insistence of the Bush administration to prevent a Jewish refugee from rejoining her family in the United States and continuing to separate a young mother from her family goes beyond the pale,” said Slobodova’s attorney, Marc Van Der Hout, of the San Francisco office of Van Der Hout, Brigagliano and Nightingale.

“We don’t understand why the administration is taking such a harsh position in this case when many people who have committed far more heinous offenses are often granted permission to stay in or come back to this country.”

Alix Wall
Alix Wall

Alix Wall is a contributing editor to J. She is also the founder of the Illuminoshi: The Not-So-Secret Society of Bay Area Jewish Food Professionals and is writer/producer of a documentary-in-progress called "The Lonely Child."