Austria: Part 2 of our International Students Series
Contrary to other countries in Europe, the Jewish community in Austria is steadily growing—“not fast,” qualifies soft-spoken Vienna native David Borochov, “taking its time, but growing.”
Which is good news, he says, for a country whose Jewish population was cut drastically by the Holocaust. 130,000 of the 200,000 Viennese Jews were expelled, while more than 65,000 were murdered in the concentration camps. In 1945, there were only about a thousand Jews remaining in the once-flourishing community. “The younger generation doesn’t really feel it as much, but the older generation,” muses David, “…they don’t go with tallesim or shtreimels outside, because they still remember what happened.”
David Borochov’s parents—who were born in Samarkand, Russia—were en route to Israel when they stopped in Austria for visa purposes. Liking it there, they decided to stay. David’s father opened a grocery store and milchig restaurant, called Kosherland and Novellino, respectively, in the second district of Vienna, which he still maintains to this day.
The Jewish community in Vienna—which consists mainly of Chassidim, Bucharians, and Austrian Jews who returned after the war, is “very frum,” explains David. “The Jews there don’t go to operas or cinemas. Women don’t drive or ride bikes. It’s become a new trend, actually, for the more modern Jews of Vienna to go to bowling alleys on chol hamoed…that’s the more modern thing to do now.”
After he graduated from the Chassidic high school, David attended yeshiva in Gateshead for two and a half years, and went to Israel to study in Yeshiva Lomdei Torah for eight months. When he got back to Vienna, he decided he needed to start looking into schools. While it’s common for most Austrian bachurim to go to yeshiva full time in Israel and/or Gateshead, David was the first in his community “to take a different path” and go to college.
Knowing he wanted to study finance, David had a few options—such as the Lauder Business School (LBC) in Vienna, Lander College for Men, and Yeshiva University. (He actually first heard of LCM during Shabbos, when his mother stumbled upon an advertisement for Touro in the Mishpacha Magazine.) After some research, they decided LCM was the best fit.
And although it’s only his second semester here, he already says “it’s better than I even imagined.”
“The staff are much…more than I expected—more caring, more approachable… They ask you about you and always want to make sure you’re all right…If you have issues with the academics, issues with ruchniyus, anything at all—there’s always someone here to speak to.”
“The learning was even better than I expected it would be, too,” he adds—he’s “very happy” with the Rebbeim, and he likes the fact that “there are shiurim for every single guy here: Ponovezh-level, medium, and beginner.” Here at LCM, he’s finally a part of a greater Jewish social circle, too, of which he’s taking advantage. He’s signed up for the weekly basketball intramural league, and he’s part of the core group of students leading the Cooking Club this semester.
That’s not to say that the life of an international student is easy, he qualifies. Living abroad is very expensive, admits David, and international students are not allowed to work during their first year of living in the U.S. What’s even harder is navigating the red tape surrounding processes like acquiring health insurance, cell phones, debit card, and driver’s licenses, says David. But even though “America isn’t the golden ticket to success,” as he’s come to realize, LCM was definitely “the right choice.”
“It’s just...a perfect balance,” says David. In addition to the learning, he’s enjoying the economics classes he’s taking with Professor Yaruss, which are prepping him to enter the banking world. “I’ve got some ambitious plans for my career,” he says. “Let’s hope it works!”