This week we are delighted to shine a spotlight on Dr. Nadia Danilovich, co-owner of WNY Pediatric Endocrinology, a practice that treats children from all over WNY who are struggling with thyroid, growth, pituitary disorders, and other endocrine system related issues.
This weekend, Nadia and her family, along with Russian Speaking Jews all over the world, will celebrate Novy God (New Year, in Russian). The Russian New Year holiday is widely celebrated by families from the Former Soviet Union, important because as a secular holiday, it was one of very few festive events which could be observed during the period of time when organized religion was banned. Notable elements of the Novy God holiday include enjoying Russian delicacies and large decorated trees, different but not dissimilar from a Christmas Tree.
Born in the Former Soviet Union (FSU), Nadia was fortunate to live in a warm Jewish family, always knowing that she was Jewish. However, living as a Jew in Gomel, Belarus – at the height of the Cold War – required a certain amount of obfuscation. Nadia’s family did not observe holidays or festivals, nor did they learn Hebrew or pray, or mark any Jewish milestones. Yet, being a Jew was always a thread that ran through family life.
After several generations of living behind the iron curtain, most Jewish families lost their bearings, and many individuals of Nadia’s generation were left with a limited sense of tradition and cultural roots. But, by the late 80s and early 90s, the Sochnut (Jewish Agency for Israel) bean to arrive in countries throughout the FSU and as Nadia explains “we started to rebuild and relearn traditions.” The Jewish Agency for Israel organized youth groups, summer camps, and seminars. Nadia speak fondly of these experiences sharing that “Jews from all over Belarus came to those camps.” She is in fact, still in touch with friends she made in those days, many of whom have prominent careers all over the United States.
When thinking about her future, medicine was always in the mix. Her father was a beloved and well-respected physician in her city, and she also watched her older brother head to medical school. So, destiny took her down the same path. Then, at the early age of 23, Nadia found herself with a degree from Medical School and a desire to travel. A summer program in the United States gave her an opportunity to explore and work in New Jersey, before returning to Belarus to complete her training. However, life had other plans which included meeting her beloved husband, Leo.
Leo had already been settled in Buffalo, and was working for UB, when he brought Nadia here where she began a multi-year process of completing her medical education and training. Life was busy and bustling at that time, Nadia completed 3 years of general pediatrics residency followed by another 3 years of pediatric Endocrinology fellowship at Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo (now Oshei), while at the same time becoming a mom to three amazing children, Galina (19), Anton (16), and Gregory (13). She spent seven years working at UBMD Pediatric Endo and then in 2018, she went into private practice, opening WNY Pediatric Endocrinology.
Nadia describers her Jewish life and Jewish community in Buffalo as “perfect.” The entire Danilovich family has been active with the Center for Jewish Life for many years. She explains that “most of my friends are Russian speaking Jews. We are very tight; we celebrate holidays and Shabbats together. Our kids are like family.” Nadia and Leo try to keep Jewish traditions as much as possible, particularly because they can do so safely her in the Unites States. “I want my kids know Judaism and celebrate Jewish life.”
When asked about Buffalo, Nadia shares that “Buffalo is a great town to raise a family. I have been here half of my life! But it is not always about where you live but who is surrounding you.” There were many professional opportunities that could have pulled Nadia and family away from Buffalo, but they chose to stay. Eventually her brother and his family, and even her parents followed suit and settled here. “We love the school system, the community and most importantly our friends,” Nadia explains “when you move to a different country, your friends become your family.”
Nadia often moonlights at Pediatric Urgent Care, which she describes as a great place to go when your kids are sick. She will typically take calls over Christmas so that others can be home to celebrate their holiday. However, this weekend, she will be with her Buffalo Russian speaking Jewish family — celebrating New Year, and their love for one another.