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Front and Center: Alexander Soloveichik

Published on Monday, June 29, 2015

By: Ruth Cummins

Growing up in Ukraine, in the days when it was under the umbrella of the communist Soviet Union, was a challenge for Alexander Soloveichik. 

Seeking a better life and livelihood, his family left for Israel when Soloveichik was 22. "We had more economic opportunities in Israel. Life in Ukraine was difficult," he said of the country, which today is battling Russian-backed separatists on its eastern side, a growing threat to its establishment in 1991 as an independent state. 

Today, the University of Mississippi Medical Center rehabilitation technician is married with a family, adapting to a third culture as he begins his eighth year in Jackson. He's continuing his on-the-job training in helping patients overcome problems with mobility, or incorporate those limitations into daily life. 

It's his job to assist occupational therapists in helping patients navigate issues with movement following injury or illness. "We want to help them return to a normal life, and to be as independent as they can be," Soloveichik said. "Our patients are needy. I like to see the difference that therapy makes in their lives." 

Alexander with his daughter Anna Polina, 3.
Alexander with his daughter Anna Polina, 3.

Soloveichik's work and family life provide the therapy he needs to adjust to the move to Jackson. He and his wife Christy, who he met while in Israel, have a 3-year-old child, Anna Polina. He's bettering his English as he works with patients and becomes more immersed in the community. "I spoke some English before meeting my wife, but mostly, she trained me. It was the only language she knew," he said. 

He considers Israel home, but Jackson is growing on him. 

"At the beginning, I didn't like Jackson," said Soloveichik, 40, whose wife is from Jackson. "I thought it was too small. I used to live in a big city. But now, I appreciate it. Everything is so close. You have time for your family." 

He keeps up with the strife in his native Ukraine through news reports. Only a few of his cousins remain there; his father and brother are in Israel, and his mom is living with him so that she can care for Anna Polina while he and Christy work. 

 "It's disappointing for this to happen," Soloveichik says of Russia's intervention in Ukraine. "I would not go back there. It's all different now." 

Soloveichik is grateful for the amount of time he can now devote to family. It took an hour to get to work in Israel as opposed to 15 minutes here, he said.

"I have a couple of chickens and a hedgehog," he said of family life in Jackson. "All three places I've lived have been very different. But definitely, people here are more friendly."