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December 9, 2016 / 9 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Former Soviet Union’

JDC and IFCJ Team to Help Elderly Jews in Eastern Europe

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews have announced a joint initiative to help impoverished elderly Jews in the former Soviet Union.

The two organizations have launched a four-year, $52 million project to bring desperately needed food and medical supplies to needy Jews in eastern Europe.

The aid will be delivered through JDC’s local service network in the various FSU nations.

The IFCJ has arranged flights to Israel for hundreds of Jews from Ukraine over the past year, in addition to providing them with small assistance grants when they arrive as well.

Hana Levi Julian

Israeli President Sends Condolences on Passing of Uzbeki President

Sunday, September 4th, 2016

President Rivlin sent a letter of condolence Sunday to the people of Uzbekistan, expressing his condolences on the passing of the country’s president, Islam Karimov.

The long-time ruler was laid to rest Saturday in his hometown of Samarkand, at the Shah-i-Zinda cemetery, after a funeral in the city’s ancient Registan Square. About half of the nation’s 32 million citizens were born after Karimov came to power.

There is a tiny community of approximately 1,500 Bukharan Jews in Uzbekistan, most living in and around the capital city of Tashkent, the remnant after the majority made aliyah following the nation’s declaration of independence following the collapse of the former Soviet Union 25 years ago.

“On behalf of the citizens of the State of Israel, I send our condolences to the people of Uzbekistan on the death of President Islam Karimov, who has led the country since its independence,” Rivlin wrote. “Israel stands beside the Uzbek nation at this difficult time.

“We in Israel are very pleased with the good relations between our two countries and the cooperation between our two nations in a number of areas. We look forward to continuing to expand and to further enhance the good relations with Uzbekistan in the future.

“There have been strong Jewish communities in Uzbekistan for thousands of years and our two nations share a rich cultural history. We are proud of the many thousands of Israelis who immigrated here from Uzbekistan from such regions as Samarkand and Bukhara.

“Again, please accept our sympathies on the sad passing of President Islam Karimov,” he concluded.

Hana Levi Julian

Parents of Russian-Jewish Star Trek Actor Sue Fiat Chrysler for Son’s Death

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

The family of 27-year-old Russian-Jewish actor Anton Yelchin has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV over the death of their loved one, according to Business Insider.

Yelchin’s parents are charging the company with negligence and product liability after their son’s Jeep Grand Cherokee rolled backwards and killed the actor on June 19, crushing him to death against a brick wall and fence at his home in Los Angeles.

The vehicle was covered under a recall in April of more than 1.1 million cars and SUVs by the company, in the wake of at least 68 injuries, 266 crashes and 308 reports of property damage. The recall applies to the 2014-2015 model years of the Jeep Grand Cherokee sport utility vehicle and 2012-2014 Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300 sedans.

A recall letter sent to Anton Yelchin but it was received seven days after his death, according to Gary Dordick, the attorney representing Irina and Victor Yelchin (the actor’s parents).

“Your vehicle may roll away, striking and injuring you, your passengers, or bystanders, if the vehicle’s engine is left running, the parking brake is not engaged, and the transmission is not in the “PARK” position before exiting the vehicle,” the letter stated in part.

Irina and Victor Yelchin were renowned skaters in the former Soviet Union. Their son Anton most recently played the role of the young navigator Chekov on the starship Enterprise in the newest ‘Star Trek’ movie, ‘Beyond.’

Hana Levi Julian

No More Visas for Israelis to Belarus

Sunday, September 14th, 2014

Israeli citizens will no longer be required to obtain a visa to enter Belarus, Israel’s ambassador to Belarus Yosef Shagall has announced.

The need for entrance visas to Belarus for Israelis will be cancelled as from 19 September this year, he said.

The decision, which came in an agreement between Foreign Ministry and the government of Belarus, during the opening ceremony of Limmud FSU (Former Soviet Union) in the Municipal Theater of Vitebsk which was attended by some 700 participants.

The event included representatives of the government of Belarus, the president of the Jewish community, Boris Gerstein and the founder of Limmud FSU, Chaim Chesler.

Hana Levi Julian

What Would Stalin Say?

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

Originally published at Chabad.org.

By Rabbi Berel Lazar

My relationship with Reb Shmuel Rohr started about twenty years ago, in the early 1990s. He was visiting Russia on a business trip, looking for investment opportunities.

Truth to tell, I looked at him kind of quizzically: “Investment? In Russia!?” This was a country that everyone was trying to get out of, figuring that it had no future. A dank and dreary place, where the store shelves were empty and there was nothing to eat; the only kind of economic activity was that of émigrés selling their goods and leaving the country with the little money they had gotten for them. Now this man is coming to invest? When does he ever expect to see any profits from this?

So I asked him, “Reb Shmuel, what are you doing?”

“I myself may not see any profit from it,” he replied, “but my children and grandchildren will. I’m investing for their sake. Now, when everything is collapsing here, when no one sees a future for the country—that’s the time to enter the market here. It’s a window of opportunity that opens only once in many decades. So, yes, it’s unlikely that in the near future I’ll see any benefits from this investment, but my grandchildren will see it.

“And this is just as true in spiritual matters, in matters of Judaism, as it is in business,” he continued. “On the face of it, there seems to be no future here: everyone is getting out as fast as possible, going to Israel, or America, or Western Europe. But I do foresee a future here—a bright future. Again, I may not get to see it, but my grandchildren most definitely will. Time will come when Russia gets back firmly on its feet, both economically and Jewishly!”

As Reb Shmuel spoke, I saw before me a Jew with great vision, a person with enormous foresight. He envisioned a revolution—and he took a leading role in making it happen. He was the Nachshon ben Aminadav who jumped into the swirling waves, into a sea where no firm footing could be seen—yet he walked into it with head held high and eyes affixed ahead, toward the future.

He encouraged, cajoled, pushed and worked on having shluchim sent to Russia. He not only talked the talk, but walked the walk—supporting them financially from the start.

In the many conversations I had with him, he’d often refer to his underlying inspiration. What indeed motivated him to spend such a fortune on behalf of Russian Jewry? His yardstick, he said, was simply this: “If Stalin could see this, he’d roll over in his grave!”

This idea was expressed in the wide variety of activities he funded, in each of which he saw the ultimate revenge against Stalin. A few come to mind now:

Return of Synagogues

Whenever Reb Shmuel would hear about a synagogue that had been nationalized by the Communist government and that there was a chance to have it returned to the Jewish community—he’d exert all possible efforts to make it happen.

That was his sweet revenge. A building that was seized by Stalin’s goons en route to ensuring the ultimate defeat of the Jews—to think that in that same building Judaism would be rebuilt and blossom anew—that would definitely make Stalin roll over in his grave, if he could only see it. So it must be done!

Bris Milah (Circumcision)

During that early period of Jewish awakening after seventy years of communism, there was a particularly urgent need to find mohalim who could arrange circumcisions in an orderly fashion.

One day I approached Reb Shmuel excitedly and told him that we identified an expert mohel, who was also a credentialed surgeon, who would be perfectly suited for performing adult milah.

After committing certain funding, Reb Shmuel told me, “The real revolution, the real Jewish victory, is performing a bris on an eight-day-old infant, a bris in its proper time. That’s what will make Stalin roll over in his grave.

“You see,” he continued, sounding like a sagacious chassid, “Stalin wanted to break the Jews’ intrinsic connection to G‑d. When an adult undergoes a bris milah, that’s on his own initiative: he’s weighed the pros and cons, and decided rationally that he needs to be circumcised. He’s taken Stalin’s view into consideration and ended up rejecting it.

Chabad.org

Kiev Hosting First-Ever Hebrew Song Contest in Former Soviet Union

Friday, June 28th, 2013

Twelve talented candidates from around the former Soviet Union competed in Kiev, Ukraine, this week in the “Hallelujah” contest, a global Hebrew singing competition for Jewish talent.

For the first time, the international competition, an initiative of the World Forum of Russian-speaking Jews, the World Zionist Organization and the Hallelujah Organization, was held in the former Soviet Union.

The songs in the competition were by prominent Hebrew poets, including Chaim Nachman Bialik, Shaul Tchernichovsky, Natan Yonatan, Vladimir (Ze’ev) Jabotinsky, and Rachel Bluwstein.

The winner was Maria Katzav Mikaterenberg, who’s studying voice in a local College in the Ukraine. In second and third place were Yelena Geleckson from Voronezh and Elana Levine from Penza.

WFRJ was established in January 2012 during the United Nations conference marking International Holocaust Day by a group of Jewish businessmen and philanthropists from the Former Soviet Union, all of whom served as community leaders of Russian-speaking Jews in the United States, Canada, Germany and the Ukraine.

The organization works to strengthen the bond of Russian-speaking Jews in the Diaspora with Israel. The president is Alexander Levin, an American-Ukrainian businessman and philanthropist who is also head of the Jewish community of Kiev.

Jewish Press Staff

Survey Says: Israeli Jews Becoming More Religious

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

A study published Thursday by the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) and the AVI CHAI Foundation has found that Israeli Jews are becoming more religious.

The results of the survey, titled “A Portrait of Israeli Jews: Beliefs, Observance, and Values of Israeli Jews,” contrast significantly with the last survey undertaken in the 1990s, and suggest that the orthodox and ultra-orthodox communities are growing in demographic influence.

An overwhelming majority (85%) of Israeli Jews believe that it is “important to celebrate Jewish festivals in the traditional manner,” with 90% celebrating the Pesach Seder. The study also found that both the orthodox and ultra-orthodox communities “observe religious precepts more stringently than they did in the past.”

The last study found that attachment to Jewish tradition and religion had declined sharply, but this has been mainly been attributed to the mass influx of immigrants from the former Soviet Union in the early 1990s.

Jewish Press Staff

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/israeli-jews-more-religious/2012/01/26/

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