Weekly Top 10
WASHINGTON, D.C. September 07, 2018

TO: NCSEJ Leadership and Interested Parties

FROM: Daniel Rubin, Chairman;
Aleksander Smukler, President;
Mark B. Levin, Executive Vice-Chairman & CEO

Dear Friend,

This week, almost 80,000 people arrived in Ukraine to celebrate Rosh Hashanah. The worshipers are headed to the town of Uman in Central Ukraine to pay tribute to spiritual leader Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav, whose grave is located there. To accommodate the surge, Israel has opened a new consulate in Uman, while Ukrainian airport officials have dedicated a whole terminal to the arrivals. 

Earlier this week, the Ukrainian city of Lviv commemorated the 75th anniversary of the destruction of its Jewish community during the Second World War. Once a major center of Jewish life in Eastern Europe, the government is engaged in efforts to memorialize those Jewish citizens murdered during the Holocaust.

I want to highlight an op-ed written for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee CEO David Schizer described the strategies JDC is adopting to address obstacles like rising inflation and declining populations. These include consolidating existing programs, streamlining operations, and sending more volunteers to the region. In doing so, Schizer and other Jewish groups are elevating the concept of community to a global scale.

Please see below for the links to this week's news updates. We wish you a Happy New Year.

Mark B. Levin
NCSEJ Executive Vice-Chairman & CEO
Washington, D.C. September 07, 2018

Eastern Europe Is Changing. How We Deliver Care to Jewish Elderly Has to Change with It
By David Schizer
JTA, September 06, 2018

In business, an effective planning process is essential for success. During the High Holidays, Jews are urged to engage in this sort of process for our own lives. We reflect on the past year, seeking lessons to help us in the coming year. Are we committed to the right ideals? Are we living up to them? When others need us, do we answer the call?

As we look for opportunities to help others in the new year, and consider the best way to do so, we should remember a group that too often is forgotten: elderly Jews in the former Soviet Union.

They have lived unimaginably difficult lives. Most endured the devastation of World War II, and nearly half survived the Holocaust. All lived under a communist regime that discriminated relentlessly against Jews and dismantled Jewish institutions.

Exploring Jewish Life in Lodz: An Interview with Rabbi Dawid Szychowski, Community Spirit Leader
By Meyer Harroch
The Jewish Voice, September 05, 2018

Rabbi Dawid Szychowski is the Lodz Jewish community’s spiritual leader. He was appointed emissary by Shavei Israel, an Israeli organization that encourages people with Jewish ancestry to strengthen their connection with Israel and the Jewish people. Originally from Poland, Rabbi Szychowski moved to Jerusalem to continue his rabbinic studies at the Machon Meir yeshiva. He received his rabbinic ordination in 2015, first from Rabbi Yakov Peretz of the Beit Midrash Sefardi and then from Rabbi Shlomo Riskin at Yeshivat Hamivtar in Efrat. He completed the two-year Beren Strauss Amiel program preparing future rabbis to work with Jewish communities outside of Israel. He also participated and lectured in several of Shavei Israel’s summer seminars in Israel for young Polish Jews. Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich of Poland asked him to move to Lodz to fulfill a great need there; his responsibilities included visiting both Katowice and another two Polish cities with smaller Jewish communities.

First Hasidic Pilgrims Arrive in Ukraine, Security Measures Enhances
112 UA, September 05, 2018

B terminal of Boryspil Airport that was opened for the hosting of the Hasids coming to Ukraine will accept the first flight today on September 5 as 112 Ukraine reported.

Totally, 10 flights with the pilgrims who aim to Uman for the celebration of Rosh Hashanah are expected. This year the celebration starts on September 9 and will continue until September 11.

The officers of the National Guard will protect the terminal. In Uman, the security measures were also enhanced as the press service of Cherkassy region police reported. On September 3, 600 police officers from 12 regions of Ukraine arrived in the city, including the patrol police, operational staff, dog handlers and bomb experts.

Annual Holocaust Commemoration Ceremony Takes Place on Wednesday
News-H24, September 05, 2018

Kalevi-Liiva, jùst north of the village of Jägala, is close to the former concentration camp in the same village which was set ùp dùring the Nazi occùpation of Estonia and existed for aboùt a year, between 1942 and 1943.

The sand-dùned area (Liiv is the Estonian word for sand) was the execùtion site of several thoùsand people, mostly Jews, and also Roma people.

“We mùst never forget the events that took place here,” said Alla Jakobson, chair of the Jewish commùnity of Estonia.

Budapest Synagogue Re-Opened after Centuries of Disuse
JTA, September 07, 2018

A former synagogue in Hungary’s capital city that had not been used as a place of worship in centuries reopened as a Jewish house of worship in a ceremony attended by the country’s president.

President János Áder attended the re-dedication and opening ceremony of Buda Castle Synagogue on Thursday as a guest of the Chabad-affiliated EMIH federation of Jewish communities, the organization said in a statement.

The synagogue on Táncsics Street, which used to be a Jewish museum, was opened especially in time for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new years.

The Jewish Museum Showcases the Russian Avant-Garde
Broadway World, September 04, 2018

The Jewish Museum will offer museum visitors a rare opportunity to explore a little-known chapter in the history of modernity and the Russian avant-garde. On view from September 14, 2018 through January 6, 2019, Chagall, Lissitzky, Malevich: The Russian Avant-Garde in Vitebsk, 1918-1922 will focus on the People's Art School (1918-1922), founded by Marc Chagall in his native city of Vitebsk (in present day Belarus). The exhibition explores the extraordinary years following the Russian October Revolution of 1917, during which Vitebsk - a small city with a significant Jewish population - became an incubator of avant-garde art. Through nearly 160 works and documents loaned by museums in Vitebsk and Minsk and major American and European collections, the exhibition will present the artistic output of three iconic figures - Marc Chagall, El Lissitzky and Kazimir Malevich - as well as works by students and teachers of the Vitebsk school, such as Lazar Khidekel, Nikolai Suetin, Ilya Chashnik, David Yakerson, Vera Ermolaeva, and Yuri (Yehuda) Pen, among others. Chagall, Lissitzky, Malevich: The Russian Avant-Garde in Vitebsk, 1918-1922 is organized by the Centre Pompidou, Paris, in collaboration with the Jewish Museum, New York.

Ukrainian City Commemorates 75th Anniversary of the Destruction of Its Jewish Community
Haaretz, September 02, 2018

The Ukrainian city of Lviv, once a major center of Jewish life in Eastern Europe, is commemorating the 75th anniversary of the annihilation of the city's Jewish population by Nazi Germany and honoring those working today to preserve what they can of that vanished world.

City authorities honored recipients during Sunday's ceremony with 75 sculptured glass keys modeled by an American artist on an old metal synagogue key that she found at a Lviv market. The ceremonies, including a concert amid the ruins of synagogues, come amid a larger attempt to revive the suppressed memories of the Jews who were once an integral part of life in the region.

Russia's Chief Rabbi Reportedly Paid Secret Visit to Iran on Trip Organized by Putin
Haaretz, September 3, 2018

Russian Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar secretly visited Iran almost six months ago as part of a diplomatic trip organized by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Israeli media reported over the weekend.

The Islamic Republic opposed the rabbi's arrival, but Putin himself insisted on Lazar's participation in the diplomatic mission, the website Ynetnews reported. The trip was reportedly headed by the chairman of Russia's State Duma and included talks in the Iranian parliament.

Lazar, who heads the Chabad movement in Russia, is considered close to Putin and is often accused of supporting the president unconditionally in exchange for his regime’s seal of approval for Chabad.

Jewish NGOs Have Found a Home at Budapest's Mozaik Jewish Community Hub
By Liam Hoare
E Jewish Philanthropy, September 03, 2018

Charity Taxi was formed in Budapest during the refugee crisis of 2015 – a time that inspired many both in and out of the Hungarian Jewish community towards political and social activism, as its founding director Tamás Horn explained to me during a visit to the capital in August. Charity Taxi is a social justice project that collects people’s donations such as unwanted clothes from their doorstep, takes them to be sorted, and then distributes them to underprivileged and disadvantaged villages in Budapest’s periphery. Aside from its educational mission, Charity Taxi is a humanitarian link between the city and the country, fostering, according to Horn, a greater sense of community and social responsibility.

Jews Portrayed as Money-Grubbing at Czech City Festival
JTA, September 04, 2018

A municipally organized street show in Prague celebrating Czech nationhood featured a skit apparently mocking an Orthodox Jew.

In the skit, police characters remove a man dressed like an Orthodox Jew for demanding money from the event’s host, who wears traditional Czech attire.

Sunday’s event was organized by the 3rd District of Prague

[Link to pdf of full articles]
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Founded in 1971, the National Coalition Supporting Eurasian Jewry represents the organized American Jewish community in monitoring and advocating on behalf of the estimated 1.5 million Jews in Eastern Europe and Eurasia, including the 15 successor states of the former Soviet Union.