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Kyiv Making Gains in Religious Dimension of the Ukrainian-Russian Conflict

Russian President Vladimir Putin is trying to use religion to advance an expansionist agenda. But an increasing number of believers in Ukraine appear to be rejecting the notion that Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church are the defenders of the true faith. Religion became a battleground in Ukraine long before the Euromaidan movement gained power […]

Russian Orthodox Activists Say Charlie Hebdo Shooting Was ‘Just Punishment’

Russian Orthodox activists rallied outside the French Embassy in Moscow with signs blaming this week’s massacre at the offices of Charlie Hebdo on the newspaper’s own practice of lampooning various religions — and on the French government for tolerating its satire. While scores of Muscovites laid flowers outside the embassy to extend their condolences to the families of the 12 people killed in the attack and their grieving nation, a handful of Orthodox demonstrators […]

The improbable romance between Israel and Azerbaijan

Since its founding in 1948, Israel has found Muslim-majority allies hard to come by. Yet an improbable romance continues to develop between the Jewish state and Azerbaijan. Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon took a surprise trip to Azerbaijan in September, marking the first-ever visit by the holder of his position to a Muslim-majority nation in the […]

Christian-funded group preaches Israel immigration gospel to Ukraine refugees

Back in the late 1960s, among the thousands of protesters at a downtown New York mass rally for Soviet Jewry, a young Yechiel Eckstein sat on the ground, chanting, “One two three four, open up the Iron Door; five six seven eight, let our people emigrate.” The rabbis of his school, the Yeshiva University High […]

Will Russia’s economic woes burst bubble for Jews?

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (JTA) — In the basement of one of Europe’s largest synagogues, 100 Jews are waiting to meet local film star Boris Smolkin. The crowd applauds enthusiastically as the 66-year-old funnyman, who gave his voice to Master Yoda in the Russian-language version of the “Star Wars” trilogy, sucks daintily on an electronic cigarette […]

Fleeing civil war, thousands of Ukrainians take refuge in Israel

They streamed off the shuttle buses into Terminal One of Ben-Gurion Airport, amid loud Hebrew music and green-clad soldiers waving Israeli flags. Chatting in Russian, the new immigrants, many of them refugees from the ongoing civil war in Ukraine’s industrial east, arrived here seeking a new life in the Jewish state. More than 5,000 Ukrainian […]

Estonia’s kosher food problem yields smartphone solution

When Haim Grinfeld from Tallinn began keeping kosher, he would go to the supermarket and phone up his good friend Moshe Beshkin, a software developer who is one of a handful of observant Jews living in Estonia. Haim needed Moshe’s help two years ago because many kosher brands that are sold in Estonia do not carry a […]

RUSSIA: Kaliningrad and Moscow struggles for places of worship

By Victoria Arnold, Forum 18 News Service In Russia’s capital Moscow Hare Krishna devotees are appealing against a unilaterally terminated land lease and the denial of building permission for a temple by the authorities. “We will pursue both cases through every level of the courts, to be able to appeal to the European Court of […]

Research team using imaging to study Shoah killing sites in Ukraine

KIEV, Ukraine (JTA) — An international team of researchers launched a study of Holocaust-era killing sites in the Kremenets region in western Ukraine. The project was initiated this year by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, or IHRA, whose April report on killing sites ruled out conducting archaeological digs in such locales, as it violates Jewish religious laws. […]

Huddling by fire, Jews in rebel-held Ukraine keep synagogue alive

LUGANSK, Ukraine (JTA) — In an unheated synagogue with no running water, a dozen Jews are trying to keep warm as temperatures here veer toward the single digits. Not moving too much helps keep the warmth under their thick coats, they say, a technique developed as the group gathered at least once a week to […]