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

TO: NCSEJ Leadership and Interested Parties

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

Dear Friend,

Dear Friend,

On Tuesday, December 4, NCSEJ hosted its Winter Board of Governors meeting, led by Chairman Daniel Rubin. We had a large turnout with over sixty participants, including NCSEJ's leadership, community members, representatives from our member agencies, and diplomats from over a dozen countries in Europe and Eurasia.

Our meeting featured presentations from six speakers. Executive Committee member Gerald Platt and Board of Governors member Harry Blumenthal discussed NCSEJ successful October Mission to the Baltic States and Russia. President of the Jewish community of Moldova Alexander Bilinkis highlighted different institutions supporting Jewish life in the country and the good relationship between the community and the Moldovan government. 

Ambassador of Moldova to the United States Cristina Balan spoke about her country's relationship with the United States, as well as the status of the Jewish community of Moldova. Jacek Chodorowicz, Poland's Envoy for Jewish Affairs, spoke about his government's efforts to move forward on the issues of property restitution and the anti-defamation law. Chodorowicz also emphasized Poland's strong relationship with Israel. 

NCESJ's keynote speaker principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Elisabeth I. Millard provided an overview on U.S. policy in the region.

The evening before the Board of Governor's meeting on Monday, December 3, members of NCSEJ's Executive Committee attended a Hannukah celebration at the residency of the Polish Ambassador to the United States. The event, co-sponsored by the Embassy of Israel to the United States and the Embassy of Poland to the United States, marked the 100 year anniversary of Poland's independence and the 70 year anniversary of Israel's independence.

NCSEJ welcomes the Council of the European Union's declaration on the fight against anti-Semitism, which is intended to support the common security of Jewish communities and institutions in Europe. To read the European Union's declaration, please click HERE

Mark B. Levin
NCSEJ Executive Vice-Chairman & CEO
NCSEJ Chairman Daniel Rubin (left) with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Elisabeth Milllard (right).
NCSEJ Chairman Daniel Rubin (right), Polish Envoy for Jewish Affairs Jacek Chodorowicz (center),
and NCSEJ CEO Mark Levin (right).
Moldovan Ambassador Christina Balan (right) with Jewish Community of Moldova President Alexander Bilinkis (center) and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Elisabeth Milllard (right).
NCSEJ CEO Mark Levin (right) with Moldovan Ambassador Cristina Balan (left).
Washington, D.C. December 07, 2018

Anti-Semitism: ‘Climate Has Got Worse for Jews in Europe,’ Says Moscow Rabbi
Deutsche Welle, December 03, 2018

Anti-Semitism is spreading across Europe once again. Moscow's chief rabbi, Pinchas Goldschmidt told DW about the fears and hopes of Europe's Jewish communities and warned against radicalization in society.

Pinchas Goldschmidt: Although I speak about the future with confidence – I do so as a Jew, as a religious Jew and as a rabbi who is always optimistic about the future – one must certainly be concerned about recent changes in Europe. And one must recognize that many of the images that we have seen of late show that the climate has got worse for Jews in Europe.

Increasingly, many Jewish families are leaving their homes, or are at least considering it – for instance in France, Sweden or the United Kingdom. Do you see a trend?

The number of Jews living in several European countries has decreased dramatically of late. We are looking at a reduction of roughly 15 percent of Europe's overall Jewish population as a result of their leaving. But there are also trends in the other direction.

Meet the Lonely Ukrainian Jew Fighting His Country’s New Fondness for Nazis
By Sam Sokol
Forward, December 02, 2018

Eduard Dolinsky went online about a year and a half ago and saw an image that shook him to his core. A large crowd, some in Nazi uniforms, was parading in the Ukranian city of L’viv to commemorate the establishment of a militia loyal to Hitler.

“Division Galicia - the heroes of Ukraine,” the marchers chanted as they walked.

As head of one of Ukraine’s leading Jewish advocacy groups, Dolinsky was livid at the idea of celebrating Nazi collaboration. For the same reason, he could try to do something about it.

“When the government, state and civil society start to promote these organizations as heroes and those who fought for Ukrainian independence and whitewash their participation in the Holocaust actively and aggressively, I decided that my obligation and duty was to speak out against this,” Dolinsky told The Forward. “This is a denial of basic moral sense.”

80 Years after Kristallnacht, German President Lights Massive Hanukkah Menorah
By Tobey Axelrod
Times of Israel, December 03, 2018

Eighty years after Kristallnacht, the “Night of Broken Glass,” in which Nazis terrorized Jews throughout the German Reich, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier was lifted in a cherry picker crane alongside Berlin community Rabbi Yehudah Teichtal to kindle what is billed as Europe’s largest Hanukkah menorah, located at the iconic Brandenburg Gate.

Thanks to a misty rain, the first night of Hanukkah was especially sparkly in Berlin this year. Raindrops settled upon several hundred onlookers gathered for the 15th annual candle-lighting ceremony, refracting the lights of Berlin’s giant Christmas tree and the illuminated 18th-century monument, just east of where the Berlin Wall once loomed.

As Steinmeier and Teichtal lit the menorah, watching below from the cobblestoned plaza were Berlin Mayor Michael Müller; Bundestag member and vice president Petra Pau; Israel’s ambassador to Germany Jeremy Issacharoff; US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grennel; Josef Schuster, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany; Gideon Joffe, the head of Berlin’s Jewish community; and numerous children and their parents, noshing on jelly donuts under umbrellas.

Jobbik Party Member Resigns Leadership Positions after Recording Surfaces of anti-Semitic Act
JTA, December 02, 2018

A leader of the extremist Jobbik Party in Hungary resigned his leadership positions following the release of a recording of an admission of an anti-Semitic act.

Jobbik deputy group leader and parliamentary notary Istvan Szavay resigned his positions on Thursday, Hungary Today reported, though he will remain a member of Parliament.

Szavay is heard on the recording admitting to verbally and physically assaulting a Jewish woman, though he claims she started it.

“She was yelling, ‘Nazis are stinking here,’ and I just knocked her out, dirty Jew, pakk, just like this,” he said on the recording.

Survivors and Soldiers: Revolutionary Technology Preserves Living Testimony of Soviet Jewish Experience of Holocaust and WWII
Benzinga, December 04, 2018

Thanks to a new partnership between USCShoah Foundation and Genesis Philanthropy Group (GPG), the experiences of Russian-speaking Jews during the Holocaust and World War II will be documented for the first time in USC Shoah Foundation's award-winning "Dimensions in Testimony" program – a groundbreaking form of experiencing history that uses natural language software to enable audiences to interact with the recorded image of the survivor in a natural and conversational way.

The pioneering Dimensions in Testimony program integrates advanced recording techniques to create three-dimensional projections of survivors, which are capable of talking about their experiences during the Holocaust and answering questions in real time. Over time, the projection of the survivor "learns" from these interactions and the relevancy rate and speed of their responses improve, creating a progressively more life-like interaction. The result is a first-hand survivor's account that will remain, even after the last living survivors are gone, able to bear witness to history for future generations.

X-Ray Vision on Russian Jewry
By Ted Merwin
New York Jewish Week, December 04, 2018

They called it “jazz on bones.” In Soviet-era Russia, Western music was explicitly forbidden, and in order to listen, say, to the Beatles or to the work of the Jewish singer/songwriter Vladimir Vysotsky, music was recorded on X-ray films by cutting them in circles and burning a cigarette hole in the center. These X-ray recordings are a central metaphor in a new Off-Broadway play, “The Russian and the Jew,” written by Liba Vaynberg and Emily Louise Perkins. Inspired by Tolstoy’s  “Anna Karenina,” it comes on the heels of the debut of a new musical adaptation of the same novel in London, and just a year after the closing of Dave Malloy’s hit Broadway musical “Natasha, Pierre, & the Great Comet of 1812,” inspired by Tolstoy’s “War and Peace.” The new work was sponsored by grants from COJECO (Council of Jewish Émigré Community Organizations) and the Genesis Philanthropy Group.

Directed by Inés Braun, “The Russian and the Jew” centers on the close friendship between two young female doctors in the small town of Brest in Belarus. Lena (Vaynberg) is Jewish; Katya (Perkins) is not. Like the title character in Tolstoy’s novel, Lena is a married woman who has an affair, in this case with a man named Adler (Jordan Bellow). Katya, who is divorced, falls for a Jewish man named Levin (Terrell Wheeler), a railroad supervisor who tells anti-Semitic jokes to his colleagues to convince them that he is not Jewish. Lena and Katya, despite the differences in their backgrounds, bond over listening secretly to Radio Liberty, as well as to bootleg recordings (made on X-ray films) of the Beatles and Vysotsky.

Joint Celebrations in US of Polish, Israeli National Anniversaries 
Radio Poland, December 04, 2018

The gathering on Monday was an initiative by Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, and Polish ambassador Piotr Wilczek.

Both Wilczek and Dermer said there were strong cultural, historical and social ties between Poland and Israel, Poland’s PAP news agency reported.

"Poland values her Jewish community, and her doors are always open to our Jewish friends," Wilczek was quoted as saying by the Polish embassy in the US on Twitter.

Poland this year marks a century since its return to the map of Europe after more than 120 years of partitions and foreign rule.

Hundreds of Holocaust Survivors Speak up about Anti-Semitism at Global Hanukkah Event
By Carol Kuruvilla
Huffington Post, December 04, 2018

Holocaust survivors gathered in four cities around the world on Tuesday to mark the third night of Hanukkah ― and to speak up about the horrors of anti-Semitism.

Menorah-lighting ceremonies brought hundreds of survivors together in Berlin, Jerusalem, Moscow and South Orange, New Jersey. It’s a sight that is becoming increasingly rare, as the survivors advance in age.

Roman Kent, an 89-year-old Polish-born Jew who survived three Nazi-run concentration camps, told a gathering of more than 100 survivors at South Orange’s Oheb Shalom Congregation that he hoped their presence would serve as a “beacon to future generations.”

Kent said that for years his “horrific memories” of the Holocaust made it difficult for him to celebrate Jewish holidays and tradition. Now he thinks there are many similarities between the story of Hanukkah and the stories of Holocaust survivors. 

Read the full article here.

World Jewish Congress Welcomes EU Declaration against Anti-Semitism
Jerusalem Post, December 06, 2018

The World Jewish Congress praised the European Union's adoption of a declaration condemning antisemitism and calling on European member states to protect Jewish communities and citizens, according to a Thursday statement to the press.

“I strongly welcome the decision by the Council of the European Union to adopt this important declaration on the fight against antisemitism and the protection of Jewish communities," the organization's President Ronald S. Lauder said.

In the Middle East, Russia Is Back
By Liz Sly
Washington Post, December 05, 2018

Among the presidents, prime ministers, kings and princes who have visited Moscow over the past year to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin are some of the United States’ closest allies, who once might have been expected to devote their travel time to Washington.

There’s a new power rising in the Middle East, and it needs to be wooed.

Three decades after the Soviet Union collapsed and the United States emerged as the undisputed superpower in the Middle East and North Africa, a resurgent Russia is back. Under the personal direction of Putin, Russia is stepping into the vac¬uum left by the disengagement of the Obama administration and the unpredictability of the Trump one to challenge the United States’ dominant role in the region.

[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.