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 […]

Ukraine’s Jews praise easing of Israeli immigration policy

Jewish community leaders from eastern Ukraine on Thursday praised Israel’s decision to ease immigration requirements for refugees fleeing their country’s ongoing civil war, painting the move as a much needed humanitarian gesture. Last week, the Interior Ministry’s Population, Immigration and Borders Authority issued an internal directive relaxing rules requiring certain documents from prospective immigrants from […]

Anti-Semitism in Armenia: a clear and present danger

By Arye Gut/JNS.org The conflict in Syria has forced millions to leave their homes, among them many of the country’s Armenian minority. Many have fled and returned to Armenia, a safe haven for ethnic Armenians—much as Israel is for Jews around the world. So it is ironic, given this shared need for a homeland free […]

Discrimination, Disappearances and Exile of Leaders – The Desperate Situation of the Crimean Tatars since Russia’s Illegal Annexation of Crimea

In March 2014, Russia illegally took control over Crimea and annexed it to its territory after a heavily criticized referendum. Since then, the situation of the Crimean Tatars, the indigenous population of the peninsula who had already suffered a full-scale deportation under the Soviet Union in the 1940s, significantly worsened. They face serious and systemic […]

Russia: Human Rights Climate Unrecognizable from a Decade Ago

(Moscow) – Dramatic deterioration in the past decade has made Russia’s human rights landscape virtually unrecognizable, Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, said at a news conference in Moscow today. Roth is on his first visit to the country since May 2005.  “Starting in the early 2000s, many in Russia have been wary about […]