Russian Jewish Community Commemorates Sevastopol Massacre of Jews

102- year-old David Barulya, a World War II veteran from Sevastopol and Holocaust survivor; photo courtesy Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia.

Sevastopol, Russia, July 11 - A memorial service was held in Sevastopol on Thursday to commemorate the tragic events of July 12, 1942, when more than 4,200 Jews were killed by Nazi forces. The event, which has been organized by the Sevastopol Jewish community for over 20 years, was commemorated on a much larger scale this year. The Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia assisted with the memorial event, which included rabbis from Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany and other countries. The rabbinic delegation also met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on July 9, to discuss a joint effort to prevent the "rewriting of history" - the fight against neo-Nazism and neo-fascism, as well as against xenophobia and anti-Semitism. Opening the ceremony in Sevastopol, Berel Lazar, … [Read more...]

Living, Learning and Loving Judaism at Limmud FSU Moldova

The Shuk; photo courtesy Ruben Landsberger.

Regardless of what the future may hold, the conference participants, with their black, almost Israeli humor, were engaged and fully aware of what was unfolding before them, which one would not be remiss in describing as almost a miracle - the resuscitation of Jewish life in the barren Soviet Union, which generations of oppression have not succeeded in stamping out. by Erica Schachne Touching down in the grass-lined fields of Moldova’s tiny airport, I had no idea what to expect. I had come to Chisinau, the capital of this landlocked republic, for the weekend of May 23-25 to attend the Limmud FSU conference, the festival of Jewish learning celebrating the rebirth of Judaism’s foothold in the former Soviet Union. I had heard great things about this dynamic “Jewish Woodstock,” which … [Read more...]

The Second Limmud FSU in Moldova

photo courtesy George Omen

by Mordechai Haimovitch The event opened modestly. Blue and orange balloons, a blue ribbon and a lone firework mark the opening of the second Limmud FSU conference in Chisinau, the capital of Moldova. Without the mass of people in New York, without the sparkle of Moscow and without the intellectual spirit of Odessa, but nevertheless, with a great deal of excitement and loads of welcome - people here smile at you, not just as a welcoming gesture but simply because that is the way they are. The fact that Moldova is the poorest country in Europe, changes nothing. An atmosphere of goodness pervades the air. In our hotel human engineering is somewhat lacking: the shower curtain doesn’t reach the floor and you end up surrounded by a small lake. The rooms have no telephone and the TVs have no remote … [Read more...]

In Ukraine, the Message is “To Think Positively”

by Karyn Grossman Gershon “I have always said prayers of peace for Israel. It is strange to be saying Jewish prayers of peace for Ukraine.” “Yesterday there were shots in Donetsk (it’s next to me).” “There were roadblocks along all our way home from my daughter’s. They stopped cars, checking the trunks.” “In Slovyansk people don’t leave their apartments without urgent need. All the stores are closed.” “Yesterday, a military campaign started here ... ” “For days already the Donetsk region is in a state of panic. Social networks spread information that all tap water has been poisoned, and soon there will be no water at all. All bottled water was immediately bought up in the stores and all empty containers in the apartments have been filled with water. People do not trust anyone.” “Here we … [Read more...]

Live from Odessa

In Odessa, members of the local Jewish community learn about aliyah opportunities; photo by Roman Polonsky.

by Roman Polonsky My conversations with the Jews of Odessa are not encouraging: a cemetery desecrated, a Holocaust memorial in Nikolayev (a small town not far from Odessa) also desecrated; Molotov cocktails thrown at the synagogue in Nikolayev; graffiti on the walls saying “Jews and Muscovites, get out of Odessa.” A group of young Odessites, met our shaliach who wears a kipa, shouting “Zig Hail!” near our office. Society is now divided, split into opposing groups. Neighbor against neighbor, friend against friend, son against father. The front line here runs in families. And Jews - Jews in trouble either way. ***** Odessa I am going to Odessa and my heart is beating heavily - I was born in the small Jewish town of Belgorod-Dnestrovsc, 70 km from here. Never, even in my worst nightmares, did I … [Read more...]

Live from Ukraine: View from the Edge

On May 11th, The Jewish Agency for Israel hosted a traditional celebration of Israeli Independence Day with the Jews of the city. Photo by Roman Polonsky.

The Jewish Agency's Roman Polonsky reports from Ukraine: “This is the calm before the storm,” many say. “What will we do in case of emergency? How will you save us?” My answer: This is the entire reason of my visit. It is why we increased the number of our shlichim in the area, and why we are doing all the work necessary to prepare for the worst. You are not alone; not only is The Jewish Agency with you, but all of Israel and the entire Jewish world. ********** It was not easy to reach Donetsk on the day of the referendum on the independence of Donetsk Republic. Yet somehow - miraculously - I managed to get a ticket and here I am on the way to Kiev, where on May 11th, The Jewish Agency, will host a traditional celebration (especially poignant this year) of Israel’s Independence Day with the … [Read more...]

Concern Mounting in Odessa Jewish Community

from The Jerusalem Post: Odessa Jewish community mulls emergency evacuation Odessa’s Jews are prepared to evacuate should the violence in the western Ukrainian city get significantly worse, several community leaders told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday. ... While Jewish community leaders are unanimous in asserting that the violence is unconnected to the Jewish community and that they do not feel specially targeted, they agreed that, should the situation deteriorate, it would be easy for the spillover to affect their constituents. According to Rabbi Refael Kruskal - the head of the Tikva organization, which runs a network of orphanages and schools and provides social services to the city’s elderly - several of the wounded from Friday’s clashes were Jews, and the community is taking all … [Read more...]

Limmud with a Strong Moscow Accent

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"Limmud Moscow is the educational flagship of the FSU; it is a bright and glowing event for Moscow Jewry with its special local atmosphere and its enormous number of presenters and participants and its varied content." Rabbi Boruch Gorin by Larisa Popovskaya Education, volunteering and fun ... that in a nutshell sums up Limmud FSU Moscow, 2014, a festival of great lectures and amazing people especially for Russian speakers. Limmud FSU is a part of the global Limmud which started in the United Kingdom 35 years ago. Limmud FSU has been roaming the globe already for the past eight years. Limmud FSU Moscow is the largest of these and it sets the tone for the other conferences, wherever they take place - in Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, the United States and Israel of course, with more to … [Read more...]