A devastating flood in Tbilisi, Georgia destroyed many homes, a zoo, and killed at least twenty people this week. Many more are reported missing.
NCSEJ contacted representatives of the Tbilisi Jewish community, who said that the community has not been seriously affected. Major cleanup operations are currently underway in the city, with the assistance of volunteers (many working without adequate food and water) and municipal workers, during a strikingly hot summer. Some of the animals that escaped from the destroyed city zoo have not yet been captured.
In a disturbing development in Russia earlier this month, a Jewish school in Novgorod was searched by Russian prosecutors, following a similar inspection in Yekaterinburg a few days prior. NCSEJ joins with the Russian Jewish Congress and the local Jewish community in expressing our concern about these incidents.
The community is also concerned about a new bill in the Russian Duma to force religious organizations to report all foreign donations to the authorities. The update includes a JTA story on the reaction to this bill from a senior Chabad rabbi in Moscow.
The EU decided to extend sanctions against Russia this week, which were set to expire in July. They will now remain in place for an additional six months. Russian authorities said they will extend a Russian embargo on EU agricultural products.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited Central Asia this week, meeting with government officials and activists in five countries. He spoke out against crackdowns on human rights in the region, saying it could bolster support for terrorism and religious extremism.
Finally, I would like to highlight a Jerusalem Post article about the revival of Jewish life in Poland, which Krakow JCC Director Jonathan Ornstein says is "thriving in a way that you won't see anywhere else in Europe."
Mark B. Levin