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former Soviet Union

  • Shunned by West, Belarus Seeks Iran Ties

    Facing diplomatic troubles with the United States and higher energy prices from Russia, Belarus is looking for new partners overseas. It’s turning to Iran and the Arab world. Belarus has been a subject of Western criticism for more than a decade, primarily due to the government’s human rights record and limits on political freedoms. Things… More ▸

  • Georgia’s Jewish Heritage Imperiled with Talk of War

    Shuffling cautiously along the snow-packed road that cuts through the heart of the demilitarized zone, the soldiers take to joking around, asking about a visitor’s provenance. “Siegel. That’s like Steven Seagal the actor, right?” inquires one Kalashnikov-wielding soldier. He seems disappointed but nonplused when the visitor answers in the negative, pointing out that Seagal is… More ▸

  • Belarus Jews Stay Calm in Face of President’s Anti-semitic Slurs

    Despite Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s anti-Semitic slurs against the city of Bobruisk and Israel, the prevailing mood of the isolated European nation’s Jewish community is one of nearly surprising calm. “We are not concerned by the statement,” said Dr. Yakov Basin, the first deputy chairman of the Union of Belarusian Jewish Organizations and Communities. “What… More ▸

  • Hillel Moves to Campus, Private Sector in Former Soviet Union

    The hip-hop music was the same, as were the Israeli flags, the “boker tov” wake-up call and the close-knit, friendly atmosphere born of years spent together in Jewish summer camps. But a recent Hillel leadership conference in this northern suburb of St. Petersburg differed from similar gatherings in North America in subtle and not-so-subtle ways…. More ▸

  • U.S. Kids at Camps in FSU Get in the Swim on Heritage

    Spending part of last summer at a Jewish camp near St. Petersburg was somewhat of a culture shock for Texas-raised Jenny Mayants and she can’t wait to go back. Mayants, 17, spent several weeks at the camp speaking Russian, her native tongue but one she left behind as a child when her parents moved to… More ▸

  • With Chabad Struggling in Belarus, Reform Community Has Stepped Up

    Visitors to any capital city in the former Soviet Union are likely to find a building much like the one at Kropotkina 22 in central Minsk. Situated on prime real estate and a stone’s throw from the U.S. Embassy, it bears the insignia of Chabad-Lubavitch. Yet this particular Chabad synagogue and community center is strikingly… More ▸

  • Fears of Major Budget Cuts Have FSU Jewish School Heads Sweating

    A feared $1 million slash in the Jewish Agency for Israel’s budget for Jewish schools in the former Soviet Union would seriously impact non-Orthodox educational options, local leaders are saying. According to sources in Jerusalem and Moscow, the Jewish Agency will decide later this month whether to cut 40 percent of its annual $2.5 million… More ▸

  • Belarus Jews Fight for Yeshiva but Lack Funds to Renovate It

    A historic yeshiva in Belarus that was returned to the Jewish community could be confiscated again if local Jews can’t raise $20,000 to renovate the building. Authorities last week gave the community until May 10 to raise the money or face a lawsuit returning ownership of the building to the municipality. At stake is the… More ▸

  • In Finland, Immigrants from FSU Revitalize a Dying Jewish Community

    Before Tamara Tuuminen left her native Moscow in 1978 with her husband, an ethnic Finn, she distanced herself from her Jewish roots. In the Soviet Union in the 1970s, “it was dangerous to be involved” in Jewish life, said Tuuminen, 51, a specialist in immunology and clinical microbiology who lives in Helsinki. “You could lose… More ▸