former Soviet Union

Righteous Gentile Refusenik

01/18/2008
Special to The Jewish Week

The gesture of recognition came very late in the day, but when a major American Jewish organization last week honored Yuri Fedorov — a non-Jewish human rights activist who served 15 years in Soviet prison camps for his contribution to the cause of freeing Soviet Jews — late certainly felt better than never. 

Giving Small, Making A Big Difference

12/07/2007
Special to The Jewish Week

The newspaper story gnawed at him.

How is it possible, Robert Ivker thought, that in a city as affluent as New York, Holocaust survivors from the former Soviet Union can live in such grinding poverty? This despite efforts by agencies like the Jewish Community House of Bensonhurst (JCH) to provide hot meals, transportation to doctors, and free English-language instruction.

FSU Shoah Names Sought

04/13/2007
Special to The Jewish Week

 An estimated two and a half million Jews were killed in the republics of the former Soviet Union during the Holocaust, over 40 percent of the total. Yet Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Museum, presently has less than half a million of their names in its database.

That’s why the museum has launched the Shoah Victims Names Recovery Project in the FSU. In late March, Boris Maftsir, manager of the project, held a series of meetings in the Russian-speaking Jewish communities of New York and Chicago to solicit evidence of lost loved ones to Yad Vashem.

Olympic Musings…

08/22/2008
Special to the Jewish Week

As the summer Olympics in Beijing draw to a close, it seems like a good time to reflect on the goings-on of past few weeks.  The big news (other than the Herculean feats of Michael Phelps and others), as reported by the people who determine what makes the news, seems to be that people actually watched, and in record numbers.

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.

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.

The Federation’s Rabbi

01/11/2008
Staff Writer
Shortly after the 1979 revolution in Iran, which made many of the country’s Jews nervous about their future in a fundamentalist Muslim country, Iranian Jewish families arranged for a few thousand of their children to come alone to the United States to attend Jewish schools.
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