Weekly News Update 
WASHINGTON, D.C. April 14, 2017

TO: NCSEJ Leadership and Interested Parties
FROM: Daniel Rubin, Chairman;
Alexander Smukler, President;
Mark B. Levin, Executive Vice-Chairman & CEO


Dear Friend,

Please see below for this week's stories.

Regards, and best wishes for a chag pesach sameach,
Mark B. Levin
NCSEJ Executive Vice-Chairman & CEO

Washington, D.C. April 14, 2017

Demolition begins on Jewish Theater building in Warsaw
JTA, April 9, 2017

Work began on demolishing the Jewish Theater building in Warsaw.

The demolition of the building at Grzybowski Square began Friday, but actors, staff and spectators came to the site on Saturday to say goodbye to the 50-year-old building. The demolition could last for several weeks as it is dismantled in accordance with environmental laws.

Polish court sentences man in burning of a Jew in effigy
JTA, April 13, 2017

An appeals court in Wroclaw sentenced a man convicted of the 2015 burning in effigy of a haredi Jew to three months in prison.

Piotr Rybak had appealed an earlier sentence of 10 months in prison, with both the defense and prosecution agreeing that he instead serve 10 months of community service. But the court disagreed.

Read the full article here.

Lithuanian university grants degrees for Jewish students expelled in WWII
By Itamar Eichner
Ynet, April 12, 2017

Following the request of an Israeli doctor and the Israeli Embassy in Lithuania, the Vilnius University decided to award bachelor’s degrees to hundreds of Jewish students who were expelled from the university during World War II. Many of these students were later murdered by the Nazis.

This project was initiated by the Israeli Prof Moshe Lapidot. After visiting Lithuania to connect with his family roots, Lapidot contacted the Rector of Vilnius University, Prof. Artūras Žukauskas, and Israel's ambassador to Lithuania, Amir Maimon.

2500 to attend Jewish Life conference in Moscow
Arutz Sheva/JTA, April 13, 2017

Despite high tensions between the United States and Russia, Moscow’s Jewish community will gather for the largest-ever festival for Russian-speaking Jews in the former Soviet Union. More than 2,500 will attend Limmud FSU’s 11th conference in Moscow, April 20-23.

Keynote speakers at the conference will include Russia’s chief rabbi, Berel Lazar and Israel’s minister of justice, Ayelet Shaked. The event will include more than 250 workshops, roundtables and activities for children, and 12 lectures each hour on topics ranging from Jewish history, to politics, to cooking, and more.

Read the full article here.

US anti-Semitism envoy’s office to remain empty, says former State Dept. official
By Ben Sales
JTA, April 13, 2017

The Trump administration will leave empty the office of the U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, according to a former State Department official.

President Donald Trump has yet to fill the envoy post, which is traditionally responsible for keeping tabs on global anti-Semitism and advising other countries in fighting it. The position is one of dozens Trump has not filled across the State Department and the executive branch, according to a March report by The New York Times.

Ukraine's Hroysman Pledges More Reforms In 2017
RFE/RL, April 13, 2017

Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Hroysman says his government will continue to implement reforms in 2017.

Addressing a press conference in Kyiv on April 11, five days before the first anniversary since his appointment to the post, Hroysman said he and his team were now focused on reforms in the pensions system, education, and medical-services sector.

Read the full article here.

Kazakh President Orders Shift Away From Cyrillic Alphabet
RFE/RL, April 12, 2017

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev has ordered the authorities to come up with a Latin-based alphabet for the Kazakh language by the end of 2017, marking a major shift after nearly 80 years with a Cyrillic-based alphabet.

The order is part of a new "strategic plan" for the Central Asian country that was published in the state-run Egemen Qazaqstan newspaper on April 12.

Read the full article here.

European court rules Russia mishandled Beslan school siege
By Gilbert Reilhac and Svetlana Reiter
Reuters, April 13, 2017

Russian authorities breached European human rights laws when they stormed a school seized by Islamist militants in 2004, contributing to the deaths of more than 300 hostages, the continent's rights court ruled on Thursday.

Among the more than 330 dead were at least 180 children. A further 750 people were wounded when security forces used "tank cannon, grenade launchers and flamethrowers" while trying to free more than 1,000 hostages at the school in the southern Russian town of Beslan.

Read the full article here.

What Ukraine’s Jews Fear
By Eduard Dolinsky
New York Times, April 11, 2017

Last September, I stood at the 75th-anniversary commemorations at Babi Yar — a mass grave where more than 33,000 Jews from Kiev were massacred in two days during the Holocaust — listening to President Petro Poroshenko deliver a stirring speech about why such atrocities must never be repeated. As the director for the past 10 years of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, one of the country’s most influential Jewish organizations, I was pleased to hear this.

Read the full article here.

Ukraine’s most underreported reform
By Yuriy Hanushchak, Oleksii Sydorchuk and Andreas Umland
New Eastern Europe, April 13, 2017

Ukraine’s decentralisation was one of the first, fastest and most comprehensive reforms initiated by the initial post-EuroMaidan government in March 2014, and its then vice-prime minister and today head of government Volodymyr Groysman. While amounting to a deep transformation of state-society relations in Ukraine, the underlying ideas and first successes of this large restructuring of Ukraine’s governmental system have so far been hardly noted outside Ukraine. Contrary to widespread Western belief, neither the concept nor the initiation of decentralisation had much to do, as some believe, with Ukraine’s Association Agreement with the EU signed in July 2014, or with the Minsk Agreements signed in September 2014 and February 2015. 

Read the full article here.

World War II ‘Avenger’ reveals his heroic Nazi-killing past
By Isabel Vincent
New York Post, April 10, 2017

On the day the Nazis ambushed his guerrilla camp in the dark forests outside Vilna, Benjamin Levin could feel the gunshots whizzing past.

One of his comrades fell, and Levin grabbed him by the leg and dragged him from behind, looking for an escape. Blood-splattered, heart pounding, the Jewish resistance fighter ran straight into “a hurricane of bullets” and kept running until he could no longer hear them.

Read the full article here.

1120 20th Street NW, Ste. 300N Washington, DC 20036-3413
Telephone: +1 202 898 2500  |  ncsej@ncsej.org
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.