NCSEJ
Weekly News Update 

WASHINGTON, D.C. October 31, 2014

 

 

TO: NCSEJ Leadership and Interested Parties

FROM: Stephen M. Greenberg, Chairman;
Alexander Smukler, NCSEJ President;
Mark B. Levin, NCSEJ Executive Director
  
Dear Friend,

NCSEJ attended the opening of POLIN: the Museum of the History of Polish Jews this week in Warsaw. Erected on the site of the Warsaw Ghetto, the 43,000-square-foot space uses storytelling, technology, photography, film, and other multimedia exhibits to narrate the history of 1,000 years of Jewish life in Poland. Built as a public-private institution, it received support from the Polish government, the city of Warsaw, and from over 500 private and institutional donors.

Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin delivered remarks at the opening ceremony and laid a wreath at the monument honoring the Warsaw Ghetto fighters. Participants in the event included NCSEJ Executive Director Mark Levin and Chairman Steve Greenberg as members of a delegation led by Tad Taube, the San Francisco based philanthropist and head of Taube Philanthropies and the Koret Foundation, two of the largest private donor organizations to the museum. NCSEJ President Alexander Smukler, his wife Alla, and longtime NCSEJ activist Connie Smukler also attended. NCSEJ's Lesley Weiss, in her role as Chair of the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad, was a member of the U.S. Presidential delegation, led by U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY).

In Ukraine, the pro-European parties of Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and President Petro Poroshenko emerged as clear winners in Sunday's national parliamentary elections. Prime Minister Yatsenyuk's People's Front received more support than predicted, and finished slightly ahead of President Poroshenko's Bloc (respectively, 22.15% and 21.83% of the votes). Today, President Poroshenko called on his party to support Mr. Yatsenyuk as Prime Minister.  For the most part, the voting was a success, and international observers commended the elections for being largely free and fair.

The ultranationalist Svoboda party did not clear the 5% threshold for representation in Ukraine's parliament. Electoral support for Svoboda has dropped significantly since the 2012 parliamentary elections, marking a general decline in popularity for far-right parties in Ukraine. Ukraine's Jewish community also reported that anti-Semitism was not used as an electoral tactic (as it has been in the past), and several Jewish candidates have been elected into the parliament.

While free elections were an important step, now comes the most challenging part. President Poroshenko and the Rada's lawmakers need to act quickly to tackle the economic, political, and humanitarian crises in Ukraine, and reform the government.

Although Ukrainians in most of the country where able to participate in the national elections, pro-Russian separatists in some areas of Eastern Ukraine are planning to hold a separate vote this Sunday. Ukrainian authorities continue to urge Russia to cease its support for these shadow elections, which it says 'grossly contradict the spirit and letter' of the September 5 ceasefire agreement.

In a positive development, Ukraine and Russia have reached an agreement in gas talks, according to which Russia will resume gas supplies to Ukraine and continue to transit gas though Ukraine to the EU countries, in exchange for a prepayment of $2.2 billion.

Hundreds attended Simchat Torah celebrations held by Project Kesher in several cities in Belarus, Georgia, Ukraine, and Russia this month. Despite difficult situations, Jewish women from different countries and strands of Judaism continue to work together to support each other. Since 2004, under the auspices of Project Kesher, 24 Torah scrolls have been brought by American Jewish women to Belarus, Georgia, Russia, and Ukraine, helping to strengthen and unite local Jewish communities.

Sincerely,

 

Mark B. Levin

Executive Director




Please visit http://ncsej.org/NCSEJ-Wkly.pdf  
for NCSEJ's Weekly News Update.


About NCSEJ
Founded in 1971, NCSEJ represents the organized American Jewish community in monitoring and advocating on behalf of the estimated 1.5 million Jews in Eastern Europe and Eurasia, including the 15 successor states of the former Soviet Union. 
 
Website: www.ncsej.org   
Email: ncsejinfo@ncsej.org 
Phone: 202-898-2500 
 
 
NCSEJ is a beneficiary of The Jewish Federations of North America and the National Federation/Agency Alliance through its network of Federations. 
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