A few years ago, I attended one of the first Limmud FSU events in Moscow. It was exhilarating and moving to join hundreds of young Russians gathered together to celebrate their Jewish life and identity. This year in Russia, over 1,500 participants attended the second-largest Limmud conference ever. The conference featured a discussion by Jewish war veterans who participated in the liberation of Auschwitz, and lectures and workshops on issues of Jewish identity, religion, history, and culture.
Panelists at Limmud also discussed the political situation in Russia. Alexander Boroda, head of the Chabad-affiliated Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia, warned about dangers of regime change. "In Russia, there is virtually unlimited freedom of religion and the Jewish community must ensure this situation continues...The Jews of Russia must realize the dangers inherent in the possible collapse of the Putin government," he said.
Last week, representatives of major Jewish groups in Russia and Crimea urged Jewish communities in the West to rally their governments to remove sanctions against Russia. In a joint letter, they called sanctions "injustice" and said that joining Russia was the Crimean people's deliberate choice.
Aliyah from Ukraine continues to rise. According to a Jewish Agency report, 6,499 people have emigrated to Israel from Ukraine this year, an increase of 41% over 2014. More than half of all newcomers to Israel were from the former Soviet Union region, which is being affected by the Ukraine conflict and Russia's economic crisis.
In an anticipated development, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev won a fifth term in a landslide victory in Sunday elections in Kazakhstan. After his inauguration, President Nazarbayev reappointed Karim Masimov as prime minister.
During the EU-Ukraine summit held in Kyiv this week, the EU and U.S. representatives urged the Ukrainian government to speed up reforms. While some reforms have already been introduced, many analysts argue that the process has been too slow to satisfy the conditions for Western aid to Ukraine.
I would like to highlight a
New York Times
opinion piece by Ivan Krastev about Moscow's outreach to governments in Central Europe, in an attempt to weaken the EU's consensus on Russia.
I also want to bring to your attention another
New York Times
article, on the efforts of the pro-Russian separatists to rewrite Ukrainian history. A new school curriculum introduced by the separatist governments in Eastern Ukraine distorts historical accounts of the 1930s famine, Stalinists repressions, and the Nazi occupation. History matters, and this is another disturbing development in the rebel-controlled areas of Ukraine.
Mark B. Levin