EAJC Programs Report 2010
Eduard Grinberg, Vyacheslav Likhachev (Kiev), Natalia Kozyreva (Moscow)
The programs of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress (EAJC) are realized by the EAJC Program Office in Kiev (headed by EAJC General Council Chairman Josef Zissels; program director in January-July 2010 Alexander Galkin; program coordinator Eduard Grinberg) and a range of departments in Moscow: the Department of Policy and Analytics (headed by EAJC Secretary General Mikhail Chlenov), the Department of Development and Provisions (headed by EAJC Executive Vice-President Yury Raskin; deputy head executive director of the Moscow office Dmitry Maryasis), and the Department of Public and Media Relations (headed by Roman Spektor; deputy head Nikolai Propirny).
This review describes the main programs carried out by the EAJC in October 2009 to August 2010.
Informational and analytical activities The Congress collects information about the lives of the Jewish communities of the region within its Community Life Monitoring program. Weekly newsletters on the Jewish life in the states of Eurasia were sent out in 2009-2010 on the basis of this monitoring. The EAJC website (http://www.jewseurasia.org) is updated daily in Russian and English.
In the fall of 2009, the website was overhauled in keeping with the new concept developed in 2008 (chief web editor – EAJC General Council member Vyacheslav Likhachev). The renewed website is a dynamic bilingual (Russian and English) informational and analytical portal, updated daily. The website was created using modern web design technologies and it contains a rich informational archive on the life of Jewish communities of Eurasia and a multimedia component. The website offers the possibility of live-streaming EAJC events and other modern communicational options. In the end of 2009 EAJC experts compiled an analytical report on anti-Semitism in Australia and Eurasia in 2008/2009, which was edited by V. Likhachev and published in Russian and English in December 2009.
It contained reports on expressions of anti-Semitism in Australia, Belarus, Moldova, Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, and Romania, prepared by leading international specialists on anti-Semitism – Yakov Basin, Jeremy Jones, V. Likhachev, and Semyon Charny. The compilation also featured a review called “Anti-Israeli actions in the FSU during Operation Molten Lead” by V. Likhachev and S. Charny. The materials were published on the EAJC website under “Analytics”.
A compilation on anti-Semitism in Australia and Eurasia in 2009/2010 is currently being assembled: materials are being collected and analyzed, and thematic reports are being prepared. The compilation is intended for publication in English and Russian in the end of 2010. The monitoring and analysis of anti-Semitism is being performed in cooperation with the Expert Group on problems of anti-Semitism under the World Jewish Congress (WJC) FSU Committee (co-chaired by M. Chlenov and Chaim Chesler).
The Expert Group is coordinated by S. Charny and includes V. Likhachev, V. Dashevsky, and other experts. EAJC data on post-Soviet states was the basis of the U.S. Department of State report on anti-Semitism in 2010, and is also used by the OSCE and other global organizations which follow the situation of anti-Semitism and xenophobia in the region. EAJC experts report on the situation of anti-Semitism in Eurasia at various international forums and conferences in Israel and Europe.
The Russian version of the sixth issue of the Eurasian Jewish Yearbook (5769/2008-2009) came out in November 2009; the English version was published in February 2010.
Over the year 2010, the seventh issue of the Yearbook (5770/2009-2010) was prepared. The editorial board of the Yearbook has remained unchanged for the past years with M. Chlenov as editor-in-chief and S. Charny as executive secretary of the editorial board. The board also includes V. Likhachev, Artem Fedorchuk, and Vladimir Paley. The structure of the publication also remains as it was: the first part containing analytical articles by leading experts on the state and development tendencies of Jewry in the states represented by the EAJC, and the second dedicated to reviews of the history and current state of the Jewish communities of the Congress. The final part of the Yearbook is a database of contact information of the Jewish organizations of the region. The Russian version is planned for publication in October 2010.
A full digital version of the Yearbook is published on the website under “Library”.
In August 2010, a Jewish calendar for the year 5771 was published, dedicated to synagogue frescoes and interiors in various countries in Europe and Asia. The calendar was designed by Kiev artist Viktor Gukailo. Since the end of 2009, the Moscow Department of Policy and Analytics has been publishing a monthly EAJC Bulletin (edited by Matvey Chlenov) dedicated to the work of the EAJC. Eight issues of the Bulletin were out by August 2010.
In 2010, the EAJC created a Russian- and an English-language films about the work of the Congress and of its president Alexander Mashkevich. The purpose of the film is both to inform society about the particular work of the EAJC and to attract attention to its charitable projects.
The EAJC supports the CNCU’s monthly paper, Forum of Nations, which publishes exclusive articles about the lives of national communities in Ukraine and the relations between them, as well as detailed accounts of the international and inter-ethnic projects carried out by the EAJC. Its editor-in-chief is Tatyana Khorunzhaya.
The EAJC also extends partial financial support to Khadashot, the publication of the Association of Jewish Organizations and Communities of Ukraine (the Va’ad of Ukraine). The paper was published in 1991-2008, and then was suspended, restarting in October 2009 with Mikhail Gold as its editor-in-chief. The paper publishes materials about the life of Ukrainian Jewry, articles about Israel and the Jewish diasporas of the world, polemic articles, papers on issues of anti-Semitism and xenophobia, and various reviews.
Programs for fostering inter-ethnic and inter-confessional dialogue
Programs for developing inter-ethnic and inter-confessional dialogue remain an essential line of work for the EAJC.
A seminar called “Tolerance and dialogue between different ethnicities and religions” took place in Bakuriani, Georgia on July 1-5, 2010, co-organized by the EAJC and the Congress of National Communities of Ukraine (CNCU).
32 educators and youth workers of different ethnicities from Armenia and Georgia took part in the seminar, with a trainers’ team comprised of EAJC General Council Chairman and human rights advocate Josef Zissels, psychologists Anna Lenchovskaya and Vyacheslav Shinkarenko, and educators Natalya Bakulina and Alexander Voytenko. The seminar had the expert support of ethnographer Arutyun Marutyan from Armenia, and archeologist Guram Lordkipanidze and psychologist Ramaz Sakvarelidze from Georgia.
One of the central tolerance training programs is the international interethnic children’s summer camp “Sources of Tolerance”. The camp, held in cooperation with the CNCU, has been taking place since 2002, and is usually 15 to 21 days long depending on the funding available. The venue is constantly being changed in order to demonstrate the unique methodology of work with children of different ethnic backgrounds in every part of Ukraine, and to introduce the participants to the regional features of the country. Children who wish to participate in the camp must take part in a contest and be recommended by their national community. In the summers of 2006 to 2008 the camp worked in two sessions; there was one session in 2009. The camp is based on a unique immersion methodology: each day is dedicated to a particular ethnic culture, and the participants spend the day within the culture. The camp features an Independence Day, a Memorial Day to the Tragedies of the Nations of Ukraine, a Human Rights Day, and a Citizen Day. The project is aimed at developing inter-ethnic and inter-confessional tolerance in children and youth, and at preventing xenophobia.
In 2010, the camp took place in Yasinya village, Zakarpattia, on August 11-28, with a record number of over 200 children from ethnic communities in Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Armenia, and Georgia, as well as refugee children. There were Angolans, Assyrians, Afghanis, Byelorussians, Bulgarians, Armenians, Greeks, Jews, Iraqis, Koreans, Crimean and Volga Tatars, Moldovans, Germans, Poles, Russians, Romanians, a large group of Ukrainians, and Chechens. 20 children from Georgia and Armenia were brought by the EAJC for the first time. The camp staff is comprised of educators from Ukraine’s ethnic communities and professionals trained at special CNCU seminars with an understanding of inter-cultural dialogue. This year, educators from Georgia and Armenia who took part in the July 1-5 seminar in Bakuriani came to the camp as interns.
The EAJC also supports tolerance clubs for teenagers as a year-long continuation of the Sources of Tolerance camp. The clubs are intended as a long-term program of fostering national identities, forming an active stand in life, educating young national leaders, and developing civic skills, most importantly tolerance. The methodology includes weekly meetings as well as local history tours, communal celebrations of national holidays, and watching thematic plays and films. Such clubs are currently functioning in Kiev, Lvov, Chisinau, Simferopol, and Kharkov. Clubs in Tbilisi and Yerevan are planned.
In 2010, the Congress supported the publication in Kiev of a methodological study aid for teachers, instructors, and educators called Polyculturalism: organizing tolerance education in and out of school. The aid was prepared on the basis of the unique experience of the Sources of Tolerance camp. Polyculturalism was the fruit of enormous work by a team of authors and compilers: psychologists and educators Anna Lenchovskaya, Kira Freydman, and Miroslav Grinberg. Some of the most effective work methods tested during children’s camps are suggested in the book along with different forms of in-class and out-of-school activities.
Scholarly and educational programs for Jewish studies
Another important line of work for the Congress is supporting the teaching of Jewish studies and scholarly work in this realm.
On December 2, 2009, during an convention of the Va’ad of Russia in honor of the 20th anniversary of the Founding Convention of the Va’ad of the USSR, a round table was held, called “The future of the FSU Jewish community: challenges and goals (as seen from Moscow, Kiev, Jerusalem, and New York)”. Personal views of the current issues faced by FSU Jewry were shared by EAJC Secretary General M. Chlenov, EAJC General Council Chairman J. Zissels, Israeli political scientist Zeev Khanin, NCSJ Executive Director Mark Levin, researcher of anti-Semitism and xenophobia and EAJC General Council member V. Likhachev, demographer Mark Kupovetsky, scholar and journalist S. Charny, and other scholars and communal workers. The Moscow round table became a continuation of the conversation started in May 2009 in Riga during the celebrations of the 20th anniversary of the All-USSR Round Table in Riga, where the decision was made in 1989 to establish the Va’ad of the USSR. In May 2009, the anniversary of the Round Table in Riga prompted considerations of the journey of the FSU Jewry; the anniversary of the Va’ad of the USSR in Moscow became cause to consider the future.
On December 14, 2009, M. Chlenov spoke at the opening ceremony of the three-day international conference called “Jewish studies in the USSR: history, subject matter, individuals” at Russian State University for the Humanities (RSUH) in Moscow. The conference gathered together scholars from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Israel, the USA, and the UK.
On January 20, 2010, M. Chlenov gave a review lecture on the basics of Jewish culture to educators studying at the Academy of Professional Training and Retraining for Educators in Moscow to become provincial teachers of the “Basics of Religious Cultures and Secular Ethics” course. The EAJC Secretary General has co-authored a course on Jewish culture.
The EAJC co-sponsored the 17th Annual International Interdisciplinary Conference for Jewish Studies organized by the Moscow Center for University Teaching of Jewish Civilization “Sefer” (whose director is EAJC General Council member Dr. Victoria Mochalova, and whose Academic Board is presided over by M. Chlenov). The conference took place in Moscow on February 5-7, 2010, with nearly two hundred participants from the whole world. 18 thematic sections were held during the conference: “Jews in the Russian empire”, “Judaism and Jewish thought”, “Society and policy in modern Israel”, “Jewish ethnology: non-Ashkenazi Jewish ethnea”, “Jewish theatre”, “Jewish music”, “Teaching and learning the Hebrew language”, and others.
Beside the sections, a range of other events took place during the conference, including presentations of new scholarly publications, and a round table dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the Petersburg Jewish University / Petersburg Institute of Jewish Studies (PIJS). Chronologically, PIJS was the first secular school specializing in Jewish Studies in the USSR, developing later into a non-state university. The anniversary gave occasion to discuss the perspectives of non-state Jewish higher education establishments in the FSU, as it is widely known that the latter years have seen a crisis in this realm on the junction of communal, educational, and scholarly work. In the summer of 2010, ten students from Russia came to winter ulpan at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem via a joint project of the Russian Friends of the Hebrew University Society and the EAJC.
On March 23, 2010, a celebration of the opening of the exhibition “The 20th anniversary of return to Russia of the Jewish Book in Russian” took place in the Oval Hall of the M. I. Rudomino All-Russian State Library for Foreign Literature. The EAJC was represented by M. Chlenov. During the event, the General Director of the Mosty Kultury/Gesharim (Bridges of Culture) publishing house Mikhail Grinberg was awarded the Medal for Merit, the greatest award of the EAJC. As he presented the award, Mikhail Chlenov said: “Many qualified readers consider Gesharim to be the best publishing house issuing books on Jewish subjects in Russian today”.
The Mosty Kultury/Gesharim published the memoir of Leah Trakhtman-Palkhan (b. 1913, d. 1995) From Small Tel-Aviv to Moscow, as part of the EAJC Library project in 2010.
Traditionally, the EAJC was one of the partners of the educational conference Limmud Moscow 2010, taking place at Polyany holiday house in the environs of Moscow on April 15-18, 2010. The Moscow conference gathered approximately 600 participants and featured many renowned individuals from Russia and Israel as lecturers, including Ambassador of Israel in the Russian Federation Anna Azari, Honorary Chairman of Limmud-FSU businessman Matthew Bronfman, scholars Leonid Katzis and Leonid Matzikh, writers David Markish and Lev Rubinshtein, political scientists Elena Nosenko and Zeev Khanin, journalists Natella Boltyanskaya and Lev Novozhenov, and artists Alexander Levenbook and Grigory Melsky.
An award ceremony was held on May 4 for the winners of the 11th AllRussian contest of historical research papers by high-school students “Man in History. Russia – 20th Century” at the Strastnoy Theatre Centre. The contest was held by the International Memorial Society, the D. S. Likhachev International Charitable Foundation, the Russian Union of Local Historians, and the Department of Regional and Local History of the RSUH. The special EAJC award for the best paper on a Jewish subject was granted to 11th year student Vadim Gavrilov from Penza, whose paper was dedicated to the lives of Jews who had been deported to Penza during WWI.
Dr. Igor Turov continues to lead the Interdisciplinary Certification Program in Jewish Studies at the National University of Kiev-Mohyla Academy (NaUKMA) in Kiev with the support of the EAJC. The program was initiated in 2003 by the Va’ad of Ukraine and the EAJC, and is based at NaUKMA with financial and organizational support from the EAJC. It belongs to the History School at the Liberal Arts Department at NaUKMA and is open to students enrolled at NaUKMA and other higher education institutions in Kiev. The program includes courses in Jewish history, Hebrew, Yiddish, literature, and philosophy. It is a minor specialization program which lasts 2 years. 35 students were taking the program in 2009/2010. Prominent scholar Professor David Fishman of the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) gave several lectures on the program as a visiting professor in May-June 2010.
On July 6-18, 2010, an international youth Jewish studies school in religious studies was organized in Kiev and Uman by the Youth Association of Religious Studies and the NaUKMA Certification Program in Jewish Studies. 30 graduate and postgraduate students and young scholars from Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, and Latvia were elected on a competitive basis to take part in the School. The School was financially supported by the EAJC and other predominantly Jewish professional and charitable institutions, including the Dutch Jewish Humanitarian Fund. The Jewish history children’s camp “The Roots and Future of Ukrainian Jews (Shorashim)” took place in Yasinya village, Zakarpattia, Ukraine, on July 7-21, 2010. Approximately 100 children from Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova had a fun time while learning about Jewish history and culture.
Support of Holocaust studies and teaching
As in previous years, the Congress has been supporting projects related to the study and teaching of the subject of the Holocaust and its commemoration.
The Ukrainian Center for Holocaust Studies (director – EAJC General Council member Dr. Anatoly Podolsky), supported by the Democracy Grants Program of the Embassy of the United States in Ukraine and the EAJC, carried out the 10th All-Ukrainian contest of scholarly and creative works by schoolchildren “Holocaust History and Lessons” on May 2-4, 2010.
The opening ceremony of the contest took place at the I. F. Kuras Institute for Political and Ethno-National Research by the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. 59 papers were presented at the contest by students from 21 oblasts of Ukraine. These authors were the finalists of a year-long competition with about a hundred participants: students, teachers, and scholars. During the opening ceremony a compilation of the best contest papers over 2006-2009 was presented (Holocaust History and Lessons. A Collection of Student Papers From 2006-2009. A Special Issue of Holocaust and Modernity Magazine). The publication was also sponsored by the EAJC and the U.S. Embassy.
A Tree of Peace was planted in memory of the heroes of the Resistance, liberators, and Righteous among the Nations in the yard of the Moscow “Tkhiya” Educational Center No. 1311 on May 4, 2010 as part of the EAJC’s “Garden of Peace” action. War veterans and former prisoners of Nazi ghettos received the honor of planting the memorial tree.
The Garden of Peace action has been initiated by the EAJC for the 65th anniversary of the Victory against Nazi Germany. For this action, national Jewish communities belonging to the EAJC plant Trees of Peace in places significant for the community or its country of residence over the anniversary year.
Together with the American Joint Distribution Committee and the Jewish Charitable Foundation (JCF) Khesed Nakhalat Avot Azriel, the EAJC held a ceremony in Kiev in honor of the 65th anniversary of the end of WWII in Europe on May 7, 2010. The event was dedicated essentially to honoring the veterans of the war and the memory of the fallen. During the ceremony at Kiev’s JCF Khesed Nakhalat Avot Azriel’s premises the veterans received memorial gifts and EAJC awards. The highlight of the celebration was the planting of a Tree of Peace. The event was concluded with a ceremonial dinner.
A ceremonial convention of Jewish society members in memory of the 65th anniversary of the Victory against Nazi Germany was held at the Central House of Scholars in Moscow on the 10th of May. A meeting with the President of Israel Shimon Peres who had arrived to Moscow for the anniversary celebrations became the key moment of the event. The meeting was organized by the EAJC and the Russian Jewish Congress (RJC) with the aid of the Embassy of Israel in Russia, and gathered over 700 participants.
The 10th International Annual Conference for Schoolchildren “Holocaust: Memory and Prevention” was organized in Brest by the Russian Holocaust Center on June 22-25, 2010. The support of the EAJC enabled a Ukrainian delegation to take part in the conference.
On October 8, 2009, the EAJC Congress College was established (initiated and led by EAJC Executive Vice-President Y. Raskin) in order to create an engaged audience of small and mid-scale business representatives, social figures, and people of liberal professions around the Congress. Many members of the business community are involved in solving EAJC tasks. The project is chiefly carried out by the Department of Development. Eight Congress College events were held by August 2010, including a very successful meeting with EAJC Vice-President D. Iakobashvili. The Congress College has a corporate website (www.con-col.com).
The EAJC Directors’ Council dedicated to increasing the efficiency of EAJC development programs continues its work with Y. Raskin’s guidance (headed by Leon Gandelman).
On July 6, 2010, M. Chlenov presided over the Conference of Jewish National Organizations of the Central Federal District (CFD) of the Russian Federation. Mr. Chlenov presented one of the key papers of the conference – “The Jewish community of the CFD”. The second paper – “On the perspectives of creating an Association of Chairmen of Jewish National Organizations of the CFD RF, its goals and tasks” – was presented by Vladimir Shternfeld, Chairman of the Council of the Jewish Regional National and Cultural Autonomy of Moscow.
Conference of the Va’ad of Ukraine
A report-and-election conference of the oldest and largest union of Ukrainian Jewish communities, the Va’ad (Association of Jewish Organizations and Communities) of Ukraine took place in Pusha-Voditsa near Kiev on July 7-8, 2010. The Va’ad of Ukraine was one of the initiators of the establishment of the Eurasian Jewish Congress in 2002, and the chairman of the Va’ad Josef Zissels was elected chairman of the EAJC General Council. The Kiev office of the EAJC was opened on the premises of the Va’ad office and hosts the Program Bureau of the Congress. The conference was attended by EAJC General Council members Leonid Finberg, V. Likhachev, A. Podolsky, and Semyon Belman, EAJC Program Director A. Galkin, and EAJC Program Coordinator E. Grinberg. Josef Zissels presided over the sessions. Foreign-policy initiatives
During official visit to Kazakhstan, Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs Avigdor Lieberman held several business meetings with Alexander Mashkevich on October 15, 2009. The meetings were dedicated to discussing possible ways of cooperation between the foreign-policy department of Israel and the EAJC regarding the development of relations between the Jewish state and the Jewish Diaspora.
On October 26, 2009, Alexander Mashkevich paid a business visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo. During the visit, the EAJC leader met with President Joseph Kabila to discuss various business and humanitarian issues with regard to the activities of the EAJC and its leader on the African continent.
The key event of the EAJC President’s business visit to Baku on December 11, 2009, was his meeting with President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev. Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia met with Alexander Mashkevich on Janury 18, 2010, during a three-day visit to Kazakhstan. The deliberations led to an agreement whereby the EAJC leader would take a practical part in the final construction work and decoration of the Dormition Cathedral being erected in Astana.
M. Chlenov took part in the Tenth International Conference at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya on February 1-3, 2010.
The EAJC and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations organized a joint diplomatic mission to South Africa on February 10-17, 2010. The mission also included representatives of the World Jewish Congress, the NCSJ, and Bnai Brith. The EAJC was represented in the mission by M. Chlenov, J. Zissels, Y. Raskin, member of Directors’ Council Viktor Gaft, and President of the Russian Jewish Congress Yury Kanner. Alexander Mashkevich met with the President of South Africa Jacob Zuma in Cape Town on February 10 to discuss the general state of affairs in the country, the life of the Jewish community, and the development of tolerance and inter-ethnic and inter-confessional dialogue.
During a business meeting to Belgrade on March 15, 2010, Alexander Mashkevich met with President of Serbia Boris Tadich for an in-depth discussion of a range of business and humanitarian issues. The ethno-confessional specifics of the states of former Yugoslavia was considered especially closely, in relation to which the EAJC President shared the Congress’ experience in encouraging multifaceted and multilayered dialogue between members of various religions, and extended an offer of cooperation on this core issue of humanitarian policy.
During his visit to Jerusalem on March 15-16, 2010, Alexander Mashkevich met with representatives of the political leadership of Israel, including a business lunch with President Shimon Peres and business meetings with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Minister of Foreign Affairs Avigdor Lieberman, and Minister of Industry, Trade, and Labor Binyamin Ben-Eliezer. The meetings were dedicated to detailed discussions of political and humanitarian affairs including the international situation of Israel, the relations between the Jewish state and the Diaspora, and dialogue between civilizations.
The EAJC leader also met with President of Brazil Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva who was paying an official visit to Israel at the time. The meeting was dedicated to discussing various models of tolerance as well as the life of the Jewish minority in Brazil.
On May 23, 2010, Alexander Mashkevich became the guest of honor at the ceremonial opening of the 12th World Congress of Jewish Press in Tel Aviv. After the ceremonial part, a reception was held for the participants of the forum, organized jointly by the EAJC and the Association of Russian Media Journalists in Israel.
On June 29, 2010, Alexander Mashkevich took part in a high-level OSCE Conference on tolerance and non-discrimination, which opened in the Northern capital of Kazakhstan, Astana. The authoritative forum was attended by top government officials, politicians, and social figures from 56 OSCE member states.
The EAJC organized a visit of the delegation of Knesset members including Chairman of the Israeli Section of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) Shai Hermesh (Kadima Party) and Deputy Chairwoman of the Israeli Section of the WJC Faina Kirschenbaum (Secretary General, Yisrael Beiteinu Party) to Moscow and Kiev on June 29-30, where they met with the heads of leading movements within the Christian church.
The Kiev office of the EAJC organized the visit of a delegation from the American Jewish Committee (AJC), led by executive director David Harris, to Ukraine on July 6-7, 2010. Josef Zissels accompanied the AJC delegation to numerous meetings with Ukrainian political and religious leaders.
The American Jewish Committee (AJC) delegation led by executive director D. Harris met with representatives of the Eurasian Jewish society led by Mikhail Chlenov at the Moscow Des Artistes art-cafe on July 9.
Presenting Torah scrolls
Four Jewish communities greeted the Jewish year 5770 with new Torah scrolls, presented by A. Mashkevich to the synagogues of Sofia (Bulgaria), Tokyo (Japan), Tbilisi (Georgia), and Ashdod (Israel).
On September 9, 2009, a Torah scroll was solemnly carried into the central synagogue of Sofia, one of the largest synagogues in Europe, on its hundredth anniversary. EAJC General Council Chairman Josef Zissels presented the community leaders with the scroll along with a greeting on behalf of Alexander Mashkevich.
On September 10, 2009, the newly opened Beit David community center and synagogue in Tokyo accepted a Torah scroll. EAJC Secretary General Mikhail Chlenov presented the scroll and gave a greeting speech before the community on behalf of Alexander Mashkevich.
On September 15, 2009, a new Torah scroll found its way to the synagogue of European Jews in Tbilisi which had suffered earthquake damage and had been restored with the aid of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress. The synagogue will be known as Beit Rachel in honor of Alexander Mashkevich’s mother.
On September 17, 2009, Alexander Mashkevich carried a Torah scroll into a newly built Or Yitzhak synagogue in Ashdod. The scroll was presented in memory of the 40th anniversary of the famous letter by 18 Georgian Jews to the UN demanding that they be released to leave the USSR for Israel, which kicked off a massive wave of aliyah to Israel.
On February 11, 2010, a Torah scroll was ceremonially carried into the Cape Town synagogue on behalf of the EAJC. Mendel Kaplan, recently deceased, leader of the South African Jewish community and one of the leading Jewish philanthropists in the world, used to worship at this synagogue. The restored antique scroll in a cover embroidered with a memorial inscription to Mendel Kaplan was carried into the synagogue by EAJC President Alexander Mashkevich.
On March 15, 2010, Alexander Mashkevich took part in the opening ceremony of the restored historic central synagogue of the Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem – the Hurva Synagogue – during which he carried a Torah scroll into the synagogue on behalf of the EAJC. The ceremony was attended by Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi of Israel R. Yona Metzger, head of the Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, and Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat.
A Torah scroll donation ceremony took place in the Memorial synagogue on Poklonnaya Hill in Moscow on May 10, 2010, in honor of the 65th anniversary of the Victory against Nazi Germany. Alexander Mashkevich and President of the Russian Jewish Congress (RJC) Yury Kanner solemnly carried the scroll into the synagogue in memory of the Jewish heroes and victims of WWII.
On August 29, 2010, Alexander Mashkevich presented a new Torah scroll on behalf of the EAJC during the opening ceremony of the Beys Shtern Shulman synagogue in Krivoi Rog (Dnipropetrovsk oblast, Ukraine).
Support of Jewish religious life
As in previous years, the EAJC continued to be actively involved in supplying matzos to Jewish communities of the Eurasian region. The EAJC ordered 34 tons of matzos to be baked in Kiev in 2010. The matzos were then distributed to Jewish communities in various Ukrainian cities, as well as to the Jews of Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, and Uzbekistan. Funds were also provided for the communities of Bulgaria, Macedonia, Poland, Slovenia, and Tajikistan to order and import matzos from Israel. Together with EAJC-funded matzos, the members of the communities received greetings from Alexander Mashkevich.
The work of the organizations responsible for producing and delivering the matzos was coordinated by the Kiev office of the EAJC.
June 1, 2010, marked the opening of a renovated historical synagogue in Tel Aviv, named Beit-Moshe. The renovation of the synagogue was funded by the World Congress of Georgian Jews (WCGJ), which is part of the EAJC. The renovation was initiated by the President of the WCGJ, recently appointed Vice-President of the EAJC, Gabriel Mirilashvili. The renovated synagogue was named after the first WCGJ President, Moshe Mirilashvili. The ceremony was attended by Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi of Israel R. Yona Metzger, Chief Sephardi Rabbi R. Shlomo-Moshe Amar, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, Minister of Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver, and many other religious, political, and public figures. A. Mashkevich congratulated the organizers, emphasizing that the Georgian Jewish community has always been an example of faithfulness to Jewish tradition and true service to the Jewish people and the Jewish state. The EAJC was represented at the ceremony by Vice-President Merab Yelashvili and General Council Chairman Josef Zissels.
Support for Jewish communities
The EAJC continued to provide financial support to the smaller communities of the region in the year 5770, although to a lesser extent than before the recession.
On December 2, 2009, Alexander Mashkevich initiated a meeting in Moscow of major supporters of Jewish communal life in the FSU, dedicated to discussing major principles and forms of supporting Jewish communities in the current circumstances and to developing a strategic approach to existing problems. The meeting was attended by such famous businessmen supporting the EAJC as: Alexander Bronshteyn, Leon Gandelman, Merab Yelashvili, Vitaly Maschitsky, Yury Raskin, Mikhail Skoblyonok, Mark Shabad, and Eduard Shifrin. The Russian Jewish Congress was represented by its president Yury Kanner; the Ukrainian Jewish Committee – by its chairman Alexander Feldman; the Jewish Congress of Moldova – by its president Emmanuil Grinshpun; the Jewish Congress of Kazakhstan – by its vice-president Fyodor Osinin. As a result of the meeting, it was decided to establish a Coordination Council of benefactors of Jewish communal life in the FSU. It was also decided to establish a Foundation capable of reacting promptly both to existing challenges and to urgent situations occurring in the lives of the communities.
On June 22, 2010, the EAJC granted the Jewish community of Tver 150,000 rubles of urgent financial aid to restore the synagogue building damaged by a terrorist attack on the eve of June 21.
EAJC annual reception
The traditional annual EAJC reception took place at the Safisa party hall in Moscow on December 2, 2009. Last year’s reception was in honor of the 20th anniversary of the renewal of Jewish communal and spiritual life in the FSU. Over 600 guests were in attendance, including politicians, diplomats, outstanding businessmen, communal structure leaders, rabbis, cultural figures, and scholars. The guest list featured Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council of Russia Alexander Torshin, head of the MP Synodal Division for Church and Public Relations Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, directors Yury Lyubimov, Iosif Raichelgauz, and Yury Sherling, writers Asar Eppel, Arkady Inin, and Vladimir Vishnevsky, artist Nikas Safronov, set designer Boris Krasnov, and many other celebrities.