web analytics
September 28, 2016 / 25 Elul, 5776
InDepth
Sponsored Post
The Migdal Ohr Mishpachton MISHPACHTONIM – Israel’s Children are Your Children.

Support Migdal Ohr by purchasing letters in the Torah Scroll that will be written in honor of Rabbi Grossman’s 70th Birthday.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Returning to Russia

The Jewish population of Moscow numbers well over 100,000.


Printer-Ready Page Layout
Chabad-affiliated St. Petersburg Choral Synagogue

Chabad-affiliated St. Petersburg Choral Synagogue
Photo Credit: Entwine



The center’s spokesman said some 50,000 Jews in one form or another avail themselves monthly of various programs – schools, dining, services to the elderly, shows, soup kitchens, summer camps, special programming.

While there are various streams of Jewish organizations and ideologies in Moscow, ranging from haredi to secular, Chabad has a mammoth force of 100 shluchim posted there (a total of 250 shluchim are assigned to forty different Russian cities). Typical of the Chabad group is 27-year-old Elizabeth, New Jersey-born Rabbi Mendel Wilansky, whom I interviewed late one night at the Holiday Inn.

He described how he and his Brooklyn-born wife, Rivky, made their way to Moscow. Both of his grandfathers hailed from that part of the world, one working as a shochet at the Moscow Choral synagogue. His first contacts with Russia were in his late teens as a summer camp counselor. Based on his record, senior shluchim were eager for him to return there.

Rabbi Wilansky focuses mainly on outreach to university-age Jews. He gives classes, organizes shabbatons and holiday events such as a Chanukah raffle contest, and takes students on trips. His travels include a Birthright trip to Israel and a trip to New York. For the New York trip, he insisted that each traveler pay the $750 cost. “No one goes on my trips for free,” he said Rabbi. Rivky finds great satisfaction working with Moscow’s Jewish teenage girls.

The opening earlier this summer of the Chabad-sponsored Museum of Russian Jewish History and Tolerance, two blocks from the Marina Rochna center, reinforces the notion of the political and spiritual renaissance of Russian Jewry. With an estimated cost of $30 million, this high tech facility has the imprimatur of President Putin, who has already visited twice.

While the future of Russian Jewry is no doubt tied to liberalization of the Russian civic culture, so many changes – if not outright miracles – have taken place since my first visit. The danger to Jews in Russia today, when Purim parades march through city streets and a menorah glows in Red Square on Chanukah, is to be found not in pogroms or a gulag but rather, as has been the case for decades in the Western democracies, in self-imposed assimilation.

Ron Rubin

About the Author: Ron Rubin is the author of several books including “A Jewish Professor’s Political Punditry: Fifty-Plus Years of Published Commentary” and “Anything for a T-Shirt: Fred Lebow and the New York City Marathon, the World’s Greatest Footrace.”


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.




Imported and Older Comments:

to “Returning to Russia”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
President Barack Obama meets with Israeli President Shimon Peres in the Oval Office Tuesday, May 5, 2009.   Official White House Photo by Pete Souza
Obama, the Clintons and the Pope to Attend Shimon Peres’ Funeral

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/returning-to-russia/2013/09/04/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: