Soviet Union

For Sephardic Students, A Sense Of Empowerment

02/20/2008
Editorial Intern
Winding her way through the rustic streets of Rome, a young Israeli student enters the pillared halls of La Sapienza University, where she will learn about viruses, participate in gross anatomy and study clinical procedure — all in a foreign language.    Hilla Werner-Zafrani, 29, is a third-year medical school student at La Sapienza, where she is training to become an oncologist. Originally from a poor Moroccan family of 10 children, she grew up enduring constant ethnic discrimination and financial burdens in Israel.   

Conversion Institute Head Raps Chief Rabbinate

12/26/2007
Staff Writer
Professor Benjamin Ish-Shalom is head of the Joint Conversion Institute, a network of study centers aimed at helping immigrants, including the estimated 300,000 people from the former Soviet Union, convert to Judaism. The Institute, which represents Orthodox, Conservative and Reform Jews, was established by the Israeli government and the Jewish agency following the Ne’eman Commission’s recommendations in April 1998.

Birthright: Battered But Resilient

01/31/2003
Staff Writer
Working as a bouncer at an East Side bar with a predominantly black and Latino clientele, Michael Isaacs was surprised one night this fall to notice a predominantly Jewish crowd entering the club. To show his "solidarity," Isaacs (a burly, chain-smoking Long Island native who recently completed a two-year stint as a combat medic in the U.S. Army) took out his chai pendant, the Jewish symbol of life. Within minutes, a stranger with an Israeli accent approached Isaacs, 26, asking him if he was Jewish and if he wanted to go to Israel for free.

Fate Of Wallenberg Pressed

01/28/2000
Jewish Telegraphic Agency
A leading Jewish organization is urging the U.S. government to immediately pressure Russia to help resolve the longtime mystery of Raoul Wallenberg’s disappearance.   Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat employed by the U.S. War Refugee Board, saved thousands of Hungarian Jews from the Nazis during World War II and was last seen being taken into custody by the Soviet Union on Jan. 17, 1945.

Southbound

10/11/2002
Special To The Jewish Week
Shalom, y’all. That’s what the Jews of Atlanta will be saying to two charismatic New York-area rabbis who are giving up pulpits here for the Georgia boomtown.  

‘He Wasn’t Afraid Of Anything’

03/09/2007
Staff Writer
Leonid Bereslavskiy asks every day, “Where’s Papa?” Yulia Bereslavskiy gets “kind of jealous when I see other kids talking with their fathers.”Riva Bereslavskiy, their grandmother, just cries.Leonid, 5, and Yulia, 9, are brother and sister.

Thumping His Chess

09/17/1999
Staff Writer
The Schneider family of Hastings-on-Hudson in Westchester is running out of shelf space. The bookcase in their living room is packed with the chess books, in Russian, that Dimitri brought from his native Riga, and the ones in English he bought after the family immigrated to the United States eight years ago.There are the chess sets that Dimitri likes to buy. And the trophies he keeps winning.Dimitri, 14, is the top-ranked player in the country in the U.S.

A Warm Reunion

08/13/1999
Staff Writer
Abraham Gordon, a good Jew from Poland, has a favorite Christmas tradition. Each year on Dec. 25 he tells the story of the cast iron stove. It’s a tale with a happy ending — about the family that saved Gordon and his family from the Nazis.On Christmas Eve, 1943, the youngest son in the Ziemczonek family — Catholics who lived on a farm in the part of Poland that became Byelorussia in 1939 — carried the heavy stove to the cave in the forest where the Gordons were hiding.

The Last Word

07/23/1999
Staff Writer
A former Westchester couple and their Torah scroll, each with roots in Russia, have new homes now. Edward and Renee Mendell, former residents of New Rochelle and South Salem, settled in London, Renee’s hometown, after Edward retired from the pharmaceuticals industry in 1986.They recently donated their own sefer Torah, which they serendipitously acquired in Israel, to the Jewish Family Congregation in South Salem.
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