Moscow’s Nikitskaya JCC Renamed In Honor of Ralph I. Goldman

Moscow JDC_Ralph

October 22, 2014 - One of Moscow's largest Jewish community centers, the Nikitskaya, was renamed today in honor of Ralph I. Goldman, one of the Jewish world's most accomplished leaders who died, at 100, in Jerusalem two weeks ago. The institution - which opened in 2001 with support from the the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and caters to hundreds of members of the Russian capital's bustling Jewish community each month - was rededicated as the Ralph I. Goldman Nikitskaya Jewish Cultural Center in a ceremony on October 22. The Ralph I. Goldman Nikitskaya Jewish Cultural Center, located in a 19th century mansion in the center of Moscow, offers a wide array of activities to local Jews of all ages. One of its keystone programs is Tapuz nursery and pre-school, consistently ranked … [Read more...]

In Chaos of Ukraine, Dnepropetrovsk Again Stands as a Beacon of Refuge

A view of the Dnieper River, which cuts through Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, and from which the city gets its name.

For decades, it was home to the Rebbe’s family; today, the city is absorbing Jewish refugees, as it has in the past. By Dovid Margolin Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine - From the viewing deck on the 18th floor of the gleaming, seven-tower Menorah Center in Dnepropetrovsk, Rabbi Shmuel Kaminezki points to the courtyard of a red brick building far below. “That is the last address where Rabbi Levi Yitzchak lived in this city,” explains Kaminezki, referring to Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson - the mystic, scholar, and father of the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory - who served as the city’s chief rabbi until his 1939 arrest by Soviet authorities. “It is not an accident that this building stands over the site of his arrest by the NKVD [the KGB’s predecessor] for strengthening … [Read more...]

As Lenin Statue Comes Tumbling Down, Kharkov Jews Watch and Wait

A statue of Vladimir Lenin in Kharkov's Freedom Square was pulled down on Sunday by a cheering crowd of 8,000 Ukrainian nationaliists.

Residents near Russian border are grateful to be spared major violence, but anxious about instability and civil war. By Dovid Margolin Kharkov, Ukraine - The early-morning Kiev-Kharkov intercity express train glides into Kharkov’s central railroad station, entering a city a world away from the one it left behind just five hours earlier. … [Read more...]

Second Limmud in Vitebsk Creates Dramatic Atmosphere

Belarusian dance group at opening program; photo by Yossi Aloni.

By Larisa Popovskaya Limmud does not stop. The world is anticipating every Limmud that happens all around the globe. I wouldn't be surprised that the first event that would take place on Mars or in space would be Limmud. But let's come back to the Earth. September time, year 2014, the Republic of Belarus, in the city of Vitebsk. These are the coordinates of the most recent Limmud FSU. More than 700 participants from Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, Israel and the US came to the birthplace of the famous Jewish painter Marc Chagall to celebrate the best Jewish educational holiday ever. Moreover, in Belarus Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's grandparents and the founder of modern Hebrew Eliezer ben Yehuda were born. This year the son of Ariel Sharon - Gilad Sharon - and the grandson of Eliezer Ben … [Read more...]

Fear in a Library, then Aliyah to Israel

photo by Nathan Roie

The Balaban family of Gorlovka, Ukraine, fled their home after Olga's workplace was shelled. Now adjusting to their new home in Haifa, they look back at the home they left, and forward to the lives they hope to build here. By Nathan Roie Olga Balaban, 56, had just 10 months to go until she could retire from her job as a librarian at the medical school in her hometown of Gorlovka, in Eastern Ukraine, where she had lived her entire life. Other than the fact that her husband suffers from a disability that complicates his daily life, things were good: she was surrounded by books, her son Andrei, 25, was working successfully as a computer programmer, and her older son, Roman, lived in Israel with his wife and two daughters. Olga was content. She, her husband, and Andrei were thinking … [Read more...]

Rosh Hashanah – Jewish Anxiety

By Rafi Cooper “Confidence is what you have before you understand the problem.” Classic Woody Allen. Classic Jewish anxiety. Being Jewish is often characterised, particularly in the modern media’s imagination, as this Allenesque mix between a kind of unspoken self-confidence and a self-deprecating comedic front, masking a sense of unease with oneself. As Rosh Hashanah approaches, this question of Jewish anxiety always springs up at me. I wonder what Isaac thought as his father was binding him to the altar. Was he anxious? Surely if anyone had the right to be anxious, it would be him (understatement being another classic Jewish trait). For centuries, Jewish thinking has debated what was going through Isaac’s mind. This debate will go on. Suffice to say here, if Isaac was feeling more than a … [Read more...]

As the School Year Begins in Ukraine, Memories of A Summer in Israel Linger

ZMAN.IL 2014

By Avital Chizhik special to eJP With the arrival of a breezy autumn in Kharkov, students have begun a new school year amidst continuous tension. With the 5-month-old conflict’s death toll reaching 3,000 according to UN reports, and talks of a ceasefire, most Ukrainian high school students are returning from summers rife with anxiety and fear. But for dozens of Jewish youngsters, this summer was a rare breath of fresh air - having spent their summer in Israel. This past summer, 40 young Jews from war-torn Ukraine found necessary, if not ironic, respite in a quiet kibbutz in southern Israel - despite the conflict raging on the Gaza border. Flown to Israel for relief from Ukraine’s most dangerous regions, including Donetsk, these students were participants of ZMAN.IL, a special Jewish … [Read more...]

Limmud FSU Belarus – A First Look

Limmud FSU Belarus 2014 Gala

On Friday morning, 300 kilometers east of Minsk, Limmud FSU's 2nd Belarus Festival (ART Limmud) opened. 700 participants traveled to Vitebsk - the birthplace of Marc Chagall - from various cities around Belarus; they were joined by friends from Russia, Ukraine, Israel and the U.S. The opening gala Friday afternoon was held in the presence of Israel’s Ambassador to Belarus Yosef Shagal; Chair of the Union of Belarusian Jewish Public Organizations Boris Gersten; and Minister of Culture (Vitebsk) Larissa Olinsiya and featured a blend of Israeli and Belarusian entertainment. photos from ART Limmud 2014's Opening Gala by Yossi Aloni … [Read more...]