January 13, 1948: A Dark Day in Soviet Jewish History

JTA– By Adam Soclof In 1948, prominent Yiddish theater actor and director Solomon Mikhoels died in what was later revealed to have been a political assassination ordered by Joseph Stalin’s security police chief Lavrenti Beria. (The death murder was believed by many, including his daughters, to have been carried out in the form of a staged car accident). A similar account […]

Opposition Leader in Azerbaijan Ambushed During Pre-election Campaign

Amnesty International– A thorough, independent investigation is needed into what appears to have been an orchestrated attack on Azerbaijani opposition presidential candidate Isa Gambar on the campaign trail, Amnesty International said. According to Gambar’s Musavat Party, he was on his way to campaign in the southern coastal city of Lenkoran on Sunday when 10 vehicles […]

Belarusian Opposition Activist Attacked in Minsk

According to RFE/ RL, Belarusian opposition activist Yulia Stsyapanava was attacked by two people on January 14th. The assault occurred just after midnight. Stsyapanava stated that they knocked her down, forced her face into the snow, causing lacerations, and chopped off her hair. According to her Facebook account, the attackers shouted vulgarities and yelled at her for […]

Thousands in Moscow Protest New “anti-Magnitsky” Law that Bans Americans from Adopting Russian Children

On Sunday, January 13th, thousands in Moscow protested Russia’s passing of the “anti-Magnitsky” law, which bans Americans from adopting Russian orphans. This social protest, referred to as the “March Against Jerks,” included both hardened political activists, as well as first-time protesters. Many feel that it crosses a moral line to target children to make a […]

Masha Sergeeva: Using Art to Promote Modern Jewish Culture

JDC– Born and raised in St. Petersburg, Russia in the years after the fall of Communism, Masha Sergeeva, 21, grew up with limited understanding of—or pride in—her Jewish identity. That’s all changed now. “My uncle, my mom’s brother was a refusnik, and went to Israel in the first aliyah in the ‘80s,” explains Masha. “But my mom worked as an engineer at a […]

Bar Mitzvah Celebrated 70 Years Later in Ukrainian Town

From Israel National News– By David Lev For the first time since before World War II, the small Jewish community in the Ukrainian town of Netishin held prayer services – and celebrated the Bar-Mitzvah of the grandson of the community’s last rabbi, 70 years after it had been scheduled to take place. The religious revival […]

Updated Version of “One Hour, Eighteen Minutes” Especially Poignant With Recent Passing of Magnitsky and ‘Anti-Magnitsky’ Laws

From The Moscow Times – Some things remain relevant longer than you would expect. Take the death of Sergei Magnitsky. This muck-raking attorney was allowed to die in a Moscow prison in November 2009. That story was still making news when Teatr.doc opened a show called “One Hour Eighteen” in the early summer of 2010. The show examined the actions of several people in close proximity to the prisoner when […]

Moldovan Jewish Community Denied Right to Install Hanukkah Menorah in Capital

The JC– On the wall of an inconspicuous building in a side street in Chisinau, the capital of the former Soviet Republic of Moldova, a plaque reads: “Glaziers synagogue — middle of the 19th century.” This is the only remaining working synagogue in a city which boasted 77 synagogues before 1940. Chief Rabbi Zalman Abelsky, […]

Remembering the Refusenik Movement

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN (CNN) – Driven by desperation, Marina and Lev Furman stepped out of their home in Leningrad and took a 20-minute walk into uncertainty. Trailed by KGB agents, they bundled up and set out in the weak winter light for Palace Square, site of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution. They brought signs demanding freedom. And […]