Marina, 53, is a regional director of the Jewish National Fund, a nonprofit that builds parks, forests and reservoirs in Israel, in addition to offering education and desert revitalization programs. And, on occasion, she speaks about her experiences.
While addressing Jewish college students recently, she asked them to raise their hands if they'd heard about the genocide in Rwanda. Every arm shot up. She asked if they'd heard of the Soviet Jewry movement. Only one student had. For this reason, she'll keep speaking.
Aliyah, the baby who once threw up on prison interrogation room papers, is now a 25-year-old financial adviser living in Philadelphia.
When people ask where she's from, she doesn't know where to start.
Aliyah means "ascent" in Hebrew and is the term used to describe immigration to Israel. She can't separate herself from what her parents fought for even if she wanted to.
"The story is tied to my name. It's who I am," she said. "My life now is enchanted, and it's thanks to them."
While she carries her parents' past with her, she also thinks about those who came before them. The relatives who were gunned down by Nazis at Babi Yar. Others who died in the German siege of Leningrad. A grandfather whose first wife and twins were killed by Nazis, and his home taken over by others while he was off fighting for the Soviet Union.
When she thinks about her ancestors, her emotions catch on one theme: "I so wish they could see us now. Look where we are. Look at how proud we are to be Jewish. Look at the life we're living and how much love our family has," she said. "I just have to believe they're looking down from heaven and seeing."
There's a funny tension inside Aliyah. She knows her parents struggled so she could have a normal life. When they were her age, they were being trailed and arrested by KGB agents, risking their lives in the struggle for a people's freedom. Today, Aliyah runs half marathons, can't get enough of Pitt football and hangs out with friends in bars.
"They fought so I wouldn't have to," she said.
She knows the normalcy she enjoys gives her parents great pleasure. When they cheer her on in races, she says they yell louder than anyone. Still, Aliyah feels an obligation to look beyond herself and be a part of change. Her parents had no choice but to fight. They couldn't have succeeded, though, without others across the globe who chose to be engaged.
"It sometimes feels like life is too easy, and we forget that there are things that are important to stand up for," she said. "People hate controversy and hate making people uncomfortable, so they're silent -- and that's dangerous. We need to remember the world is bigger than us."
It's a lesson she hopes she, her peers and others -- no matter their cause or passion -- will be strong enough to embrace and keep teaching.