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Sunday, November 18, 2012
Excerpts: Egypt P.M. seeks ceasefire. Jewish revival in Russia 17 November 2012

Excerpts: Egypt P.M. seeks ceasefire. Jewish revival in Russia 17 November

+++Source; Saudi Gazette 17 Nov.’12:”Qandil vows to end Israeli aggression
on Gaza Strip,Mohamme
SUBJECT: Egypt P.M. seeks continuous ceasefire between Palestinians and
EXCERPTS:RAMALLAH – Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Qandil Friday[16 Non’]
said that his country will spare no efforts to end the Israeli military
operation on Gaza Strip and to restore a continuous ceasefire between
Palestinian armed groups and Israel.

Qandil said in a joint press conference with Hamas Prime Minister Ismail
Haniyeh outside Gaza’s Al-Shifa hospital that “Egypt will pay everything to
stop the aggression and achieve a lasting ceasefire.”
. . .
Earlier on the day, Israeli media reported that Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu has agreed to halt airstrikes on the Gaza Strip for three
hours during Qandil’s visit, on condition that no rockets are fired from
Gaza into Israel. However, rockets fired from Gaza and air strikes by
Israeli jets were reported right after his arrival

+++SOURCE: Naharnet (Lebanon)17 Nov.’12:”Museum at Heart of Russia’s Jewish
culture revival”, Associated Press

SUBJECT: Jewish revival in Russia

QUOTE: “By 1917 the Russian Empire had the largest Jewish population in the
world more than 5 million people. . . .Today only 150,000 people who
identify themselves as Jews live in the Soviet Union”

In czarist times, Geda Zimanenko watched her mother offer the local police
officer a shot of vodka on a plate and five rubles every Sunday to overlook
the fact that their family lived outside the area where Jews were allowed to

Then came the Bolshevik Revolution and Zimanenko became a good Communist,
raising her own son to believe in ideals that strove to stamp out
distinctions of race and religion. Her grandson, born after the death of
dictator Josef Stalin, was more cynical of Communism and felt the heat of
growing Soviet anti-Semitism.

Now the 100-year-old matriarch's great-grandson, brought up after the fall
of the Soviet Union and in a spirit of freedom of conscience, is fully
embracing his Jewish roots: He works at Moscow's new Jewish museum, Europe's
largest and Russia's first major attempt to tell the story of its Jewish
community. The four generations of Zimanenko's family are a microcosm of the
history of Jews in Russia over the past century, from the restrictions of
imperial times through Soviet hardship to today's revival of Jewish culture
in Russia, a trajectory that is put on vivid display at the Jewish Museum
and Center of Tolerance.

The museum, which opened this week, tells the history of Jewry through
people's stories, which come alive in video interviews and interactive
displays. The journeys of people like the Zimanenko-Rozin family are traced
from czarist Russia through the demise of the Soviet Union. The $50 million
museum was built under the patronage of President Vladimir Putin, who in a
symbolic move in 2007 donated a month of his salary — about $5,600 — to its

Putin has promoted Russia as a country that welcomes Russian emigrants back
into its fold. Early in his presidency, he encouraged the repatriation of
Russians who left in the wake of the 1917 Revolution as well as ethnic
Russians left stranded in former Soviet republics, now independent states.

In Poland, which is undergoing a similar revival of Jewish culture, the
Museum of the History of Polish Jews is due to open next year in the heart
of the former Jewish Ghetto in Warsaw.

The Moscow museum's portrayal of Russia as a safe and welcoming place for
Jews today may run counter to the beliefs of some emigres and their
descendants who were raised on dark stories about pogroms and discrimination
in Russia. And while there's no doubt that anti-Semitism has declined
dramatically in Russia, there remains a strong strand of far-right sentiment
that expresses itself in acts against Jews, as well as against dark-skinned

To Borukh Gorin, chairman of the museum's board, the history of Russian Jews
is much more complex than the stark narrative of anti-Jewish oppression. The
museum does not dwell on the "victimization of Jewish history," he said.

"It's about what actually happened," said Gorin. "And what happened was
complicated. There were pogroms, but there was also an active role of Jews
in Russian public life — scientists, writers, journalists, Jews awarded with
the country's highest honors."

By 1917, the Russian Empire had the largest Jewish community in the world,
more than 5 million people. Most of the Jews were confined to the Pale of
Settlement, the area of the Russian Empire stretching across what are now
western Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Poland, beyond which Jews were not
allowed to live. Today, only about 150,000 people who identify themselves as
Jews live in Russia.

Zimanenko, feisty and talkative even at 100, was the daughter of Marxists
and the granddaughter of pious Jews. Most of her life, she was true to
Communist ideals and never thought much about her Jewish identity.

"If somebody asked me about my nationality then, it'd take me a while to
remember that I was Jewish," she said. "We were all Soviet people."

But like other Soviet Jews, Zimanenko was reminded of her roots when
Stalin's repressive regime "foiled" the so-called Doctors' Plot in 1952,
accusing a group of prominent Moscow doctors, predominantly Jews, of
conspiring to kill Soviet leaders. Their trial unleashed the first major
wave of anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union, triggering dismissals, arrests
and executions among Jews.

Zimanenko's son, physicist Anatoly Rozin, said the family had such a strong
faith in Communism and Stalin that they genuinely believed in the plot: "No
one could doubt it. We were a Communist family." In 1956, three years after
Stalin's death, the authorities admitted that the doctors had been framed.

Anatoly Rozin, now 78, is still an atheist and does not feel much affinity
for his Jewish heritage, although he remembers being exposed to "everyday"
anti-Semitism since childhood when neighborhood children called him and his
brother names.

Anti-Semitism in the final decades of the Soviet Union was never official
policy, but Jews had greater difficulty winning admission to university and
traveling abroad.

Anatoly's nephew and Zimanenko's grandson, 47-year-old Mark Rozin, was also
brought up in a family that was very "distant" from Jewish traditions and
Judaism. Although he had no firsthand experience of the discrimination that
led hundreds of thousands of Soviet Jews to emigrate in the 1970s and '80s,
he said that the shared burden of inequality and suspicion allowed him to
relate to other Jews.

There was a certain bond based "on the assumption that you faced some
restrictions, you were not allowed to do what others did, that's why you had
to study harder than others, for example," said Mark Rozin, a psychologist.
In that sense, "you were always reminded of your nationality, but that
didn't bring you closer to the traditions."

Scores of his friends and distant relatives took advantage of their Jewish
roots to secure permission to leave the Soviet Union for Israel, but he said
most left for "freedom and opportunity," and not because of the Jewish

Mark Rozin and his uncle also were allowed to emigrate, but decided against

"I'm a man of this culture," said Anatoly Rozin, referring to the Soviet
Union. "Leaving seemed impossible at the time."

These days, Zimanenko falters when she tries to pronounce the words "bar
mitzvah," only to be corrected by her 24-year-old great-grandson, Lev Rozin.
For him, having to get permission to travel or being barred from university
for being Jewish is something from another planet.

Russia in recent years has seen a dramatic decrease in displays of
anti-Semitism, down to isolated cases of violence and vandalism. In a survey
conducted last year by the respected Levada Center, 8 percent of those
polled said they believed Jews should be barred from living in Russia, down
from 15 percent in 2004.

Members of the Zimanenko-Rozin family said they felt no anti-Semitism in
Russia today, but only members of the youngest generation have been eager to
explore their roots. Lev Rozin, who works in the museum's children's center,
said he began to identify himself as a Jew in his teens after attending a
Jewish youth camp in Hungary. His two younger siblings attended the same

The revival of Jewish culture in Russia has been driven predominantly by
young people, which is reflected in the staff of the Jewish Museum. The
museum's development director, Natalya Fishman, is just 22.

"In our family, it's the younger generation that is trying to rediscover our
roots," Lev Rozin said. "I try to keep my Friday nights free, I don't eat
pork and try to observe some Kashrut (Jewish dietary) rules."

For his father, Jewish identity is more than religion or customs.

"It stems from a feeling of belonging to your family, its roots, Grandma's
stories," Mark Rozin said. "By talking to Grandma and learning about her
life, we're getting closer to the Jewish culture

Sue Lerner - Associate, IMRA

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