Their American dream finally came true.
A Sheepshead Bay family that came to America from the former Soviet Union made a statement about patriotism by erecting a miniature Statue of Liberty in the front yard of their E. 21st Street home.
For years, Lev Berenshteyn wanted a replica of the iconic statue — the ultimate symbol of immigration to the Land of the Free — and after years of searching, he found one just in time to celebrate the family’s 23rd anniversary in the United States.
“It was his dream,” said Lev’s wife Galina Berenshteyn. “He was looking for this statue — and he finally found it.”
Berenshteyn said the family moved to America in 1991 from the collapsing Soviet Union to escape the growing tensions between different nationalities in the former soviet republic of Uzbekistan.
“We moved here as a refugee,” she said. “It was a very difficult time from 1989 until when we moved from there.”
Five years after arriving in the United States, the family bought a home in Sheepshead. Berenshteyn worked as a computer programmer and her husband as a limousine driver — and she said the two worked long hours to buy their home and make sure their three children could live the American dream.
“We were working very hard — seven in the morning to 11 at night,” she said. “We bought this house for all our children.”
Now retired, Berenshteyn said her husband finally had the time to complete their patriotic project. Berenshteyn’s husband built an eight-foot-tall pedestal for the statue, and earlier this month, he topped it with a seven-and-a-half-foot replica of the American icon, as first reported in the neighborhood blog Sheepshead Bites.
The little Lady Liberty — complete with a torch that glows at night — now stands watch over E. 21st.
While her husband was working on attaching the statue to the base, Berenshteyn said their son, friends, and neighbors laughed at the idea. But since the statue’s completion, Berenshteyn said the responses have changed drastically.
“He was just laughing — everybody was laughing,” said Berenshteyn. “Now they like it.”
Berenshteyn said her husband has always wanted to pay tribute to their new country — and she said the statue is a way for them to show off their patriotism.
“We proud of America and we’re proud of our country,” she said.