If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand be forgotten. Psalm 136:5
Recollections of Jerusalem vividly opens up to us a world very different from our own. It affords the rare opportunity to see major world events through the eyes of one shaped by them, but unable to influence them.
At the outset of World War II, the author, still a young child, travelled to Jerusalem with her mother on pilgrimage. Prevented by the conflict from returning to their home in Yugoslavia, they began a new life, intimately entwined with the city of Jerusalem.
In Jerusalem Anya was raised in the spirit of Holy Russia, manifested in the life of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission, the Mount of Olives convent, the Gethsemane convent, and the Bethany School. Her spiritual life was nurtured by St John (Maximovitch) of Shanghai and San Francisco, Archbishop Antony (Sinkevich) of Los Angeles, Archpriest George Grabbe, Mother Mary (Robinson), and in particular the English priest-monk Lazarus (Moore). Through Anya’s eyes, we gain new perspectives on their lives and ministries.
Her experiences in Jerusalem would sustain her faith during later years, following her marriage in America, when the Church was geographically distant from Anya and her burgeoning family. Ultimately they would lead her back to the Holy Land with her husband and children.
From a historical perspective, these recollections offer a window into the struggles and aspirations of the Russian diaspora after the Communist takeover of their ancestral homeland. It shows how events such as the Bolshevik revolution, the Russian civil war, and the Arab–Israeli conflict have shaped present realities.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Beginnings
Memories of War and Peace
Chapter 2 A Time of Innocence
The Holy Land and the Russian Mission
Bethany Boarding School
Father Lazarus Moore: Spiritual Father and Friend
Holy Week and Pascha
At the Sea of Galilee
Gethsemane Convent and Royal Patrons
Chapter 3 Coming of Age
The Arab-Israeli Conflict
Nursing in Bethany
Into the Trans-Jordanian Desert
Our Russian Choir Goes to Amman
Notre Dame de Sion School
Parting from Mother
Chapter 4 Settling in America
Journey to America
St Benedict’s College
An Unexpected Christmas Card
The Mount of Olives Convent
New York Bound
The Tolstoy Foundation
A Deepening Frienship
Pilgrimage to Jordanville
Engagement and Graduation
Marriage in Manhattan
Beginning a Family
Baptism and Struggles
A Growing Family
A Death in the Holy Land
Visiting the Holy Land
From Jerusalem to Denmark
The Writings of Alexander Solzhenitsyn
Chapter 5 Work on the West Bank
Returning to Palestine
Arriving at Birzeit University
Observations on Local Life
Chapter 6 Russian Encounters
Returning to America
West from Russia
Bereavement and New Life
On the Volga to Valaam
A New Friend
The Solovetsky Islands
In the Footsteps of the Imperial Family
Chapter 7 Reflections and Return to the City of Peace
Anya Berezina Derrick’s book “Recollections of Jerusalem” is an insightful look at a part of the Russian diaspora that is nearly forgotten. Many of us know of the large Russian colonies in Europe, the USA, Australia and China, but only a handful are aware of the Russian diaspora in Palestine before the fall of the Soviet Union. Reading Mrs. Berezina Derrick’s book gives insight into the lives of not only the White Russian émigrés living in a foreign land but, also shows the unique relationship between the Russians and their Arab neighbours. Also, the narration gives a sense of the pious life led by the Orthodox monastics, and how they interacted with the Arab and Russian communities in the tumultuous times following the Russian revolution.
Personally, Mrs. Berezina Derrick’s volume took me back to the Jerusalem that I remembered when I was a young monastic. Her recollections brought back many fond memories of a simpler time, and of people (monastic and laity) whose acquaintance enriched not only my life, but also all those who came into contact with them. Mrs. Berezina Derrick’s words were like a snapshot of an unrepeatable time long gone of a pious collective of monastics and laity; set in unique circumstances and in a land permeated with sanctity.
Archbishop of San Francisco and Western America
Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia
Anya Berezina Derrick was born in Belgrade, of Russian parents. She worked as a volunteer nurse in Jerusalem and as a librarian at a West Bank University. She holds M.A.’s in both Russian Language and Literature and Library Sciences. Now enjoying an active retirement, she lives in Everett, Washington.