Report on EAJC Programs 2008-2009
Eduard Grinberg, Vyacheslav Likhachev (Kiev), Natalya Schmidt (Moscow)
The programs of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress (EAJC) are realized by the EAJC Program Management (Kiev, head – Josef Zissels, program coordinator – Eduard Grinberg); some programs are coordinated by the Moscow office (head – Mikhail Chlenov, office director till August 2009 – Natalya Schmidt, from August 2009 – Dmitry Maryasis). In this review, we shall mention the main programs realized by the EAJC in the year of 2009.
As part of the Community Life Monitoring program, the Congress collects information about the life of Jewish communities in the region. Based on this monitoring, a weekly newsletter of Jewish life in the countries of the region was compiled in 2008-2009, and the News section of the EAJC website was daily updated (http://www.eajc.org). The year of 2009 saw the modernization of the website based on the new concept elaborated in 2008 (Editor-in-Chief of the website – member of the EAJC General Council Vyacheslav Likhachev). The renewed EAJC website is a dynamic daily updated bilingual (Russian and English versions) informational and analytical portal. The renewed website was launched in September 2009. The website is designed in accordance with the latest web-design technologies and carries large archives on the life of Eurasian Jewish communities, as well as a multimedia component.
In 2009, the Congress experts prepared an analytical report, to sum up the year of 2008, “On the main tendencies of anti-Semitic expressions in Australia and Euro-Asian states” (compiling editor – EAJC General Council member Vyacheslav Likhachev). It contained reports on expressions of anti-Semitism in Australia, Belarus, Moldova, Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, Poland and Rumania, as well as a review report on “Anti–Israeli actions in the ex-Soviet area at the time of the “Cast Lead” operation” (the authors of the report are V. Likhachev and S. Charny). The collected materials are placed in the category “Analytics” at the EAJC website. The publishing of the printed version of the collection book is planned for October 2009.
In December 2008, the Congress published the fifth issue of the Euro-Asian Jewish Yearbook for the year 5768 by the Jewish calendar (2007/2008 by the Gregorian calendar). The English version of the Yearbook was published in January 2008. The fifth volume was prepared by the editorial board led by the Yearbook’s Editor-in-Chief Mikhail Chlenov and the executive secretary Semen Charny. Members of the editorial board are V. Likhachev, A. Fedorchuk and V. Paley. The sixth issue of the Yearbook (the Jewish year 5769, or 2008/2009) was prepared for print during the year of 2009. The structure of the issue remains unchanged. Its first part contains analytical articles by leading scholars on the current state of the Jewry in the states whose communities are part of the Congress. The second part contains reviews on the history and modernity of the Congress’ Jewish communities. Finally, the third part is a database of contact information on the Jewish organizations in the region. The publication of the Russian version of the Yearbook is planned for November 2009 and that of the English – for February 2010.
A Jewish calendar for the year of 5770 was published in September 2009. The calendar is dedicated to the synagogues of the countries and communities participating in the EAJC. Every month’s page is illustrated by a view of one of the synagogues in different countries from Bulgaria to India; the illustrations are done by the Kiev artist Victor Gukailo. The calendar opens with a picture of the synagogue Beit Rachel in Tbilisi – an Ashkenazi synagogue renovated with the financial assistance of the EAJC President Alexander Mashkevich.
In the year of 2009, aid was rendered to various communities. Communities of Moldova, Belarus, and Ukraine received assistance for their children to participate in children camps, a Kyrgyz community received aid for the reconstruction of the community center in Bishkek. In 2009, the realization of the program “Tolerance – the Lessons of the Holocaust” became more active. Within the program, from June 28 to June 30, 2009, an International seminar for teachers involved in teaching the subject of Holocaust at schools of Ukraine, Russia, Belarus and Moldova, was held in Pushe-Voditsa (Kiev, Ukraine). The seminar was organized by the EAJC (Director of the program “Tolerance – the Lessons of the Holocaust” – Dorina Zilbermints) and the Ukrainian Center for Holocaust Studies (the Director of the Center – member of the EAJC General Council Dr. Anatoly Podolsky) with the participation of the Russian Foundation and Center “Holocaust”. The aim of the seminar was the sharing of methods and educational experience by teachers teaching the Holocaust history.
In Kiev, on May 17-19, 2009, with the financial support from the EAJC, the Ukrainian Center for Holocaust Studies organized a contest of schoolchildren’s papers on “The History and Lessons of the Holocaust”. Along with Ukrainian schoolchildren, competitors from Moldova and Belarus took part in the contest. At the opening of the contest, the chairman I. Zissels addressed the audience with a greeting speech. The papers of the contestants underwent selection and reviewing and were accepted for presentation by the contest jury composed of leading scholars-historians, teachers and guidance counselors of Ukraine, such as A. Podolsky, executive secretary of the Public Committee “Babi Yar” Vitaly Nakhmanovich, historian Mikhail Tyagly, philosopher Dr. Tatyana Chaika and others. Winners of the contest were awarded prizes.
The Russian Holocaust Center organized the 9th International Annual Children’s Conference “The Holocaust: Memory and Warning” which took place on June 21-22, 2009, in Brest (Belarus).
Programs aimed at the development of interethnic and inter-confessional dialogs remain one of the top-priority areas of the EAJC activity. One of the most important among these programs is the International interethnic children’s summer camp “Roots of Tolerance”. The camp works according to a unique method of immersion: every day all the participants live as representatives of a different culture. Other important events are held in the camp, such as Independence Day, Memorial day of the tragedy of the peoples of Ukraine, Human Rights Day and Citizen Day. The aim of the project is the nurturing of interethnic and inter-confessional tolerance in children and young people, training them to resist xenophobia, the forming of an active citizenship in representatives of ethnic communities and the dissemination of knowledge about the ethnic and religious diversity of Ukraine. In 2009, the camp was held from August 9 till August 26, in the Carpathian urban-type settlement Yasenya not far from Goverla (the highest mountain in Ukraine) at the “Vysokie Carpaty” recreation and retreat center. Over 190 children, aged 9-16, from 17 ethnic communities of Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova, as well as children-refugees, had a rest at the camp. Natalia Bakulina was Director of the camp.
With the financial assistance from EAJC, the children’s historical camp “The Roots and Future of Ukrainian Jews” (Shorashim) was held in Yasenya, from July 18 through August 4. The concept of the camp, which has been in operation for the last 15 years, is the introduction to the Jewish history and tradition, as well as a jolly rest. N. Bakulina was the Director of the camp.
Another top priority of the Congress is the support of academic Jewish studies. The EAJC was one of the sponsors of the 6th Annual International Conference on Jewish Studies, organized by the Moscow Center for University Teaching of Jewish Civilization “Sefer” held in Moscow, on February 3-5, 2009 (Director – Dr. Victoria Mochalova, member of the EAJC General Council, Chairman of the Academic Council – M. Chlenov). Over 150 scholars from 55 cities of different countries – the CIS countries, Europe, Israel and USA – took part in the conference.
On February 24-26, the International conference “What does the word “anti-Semitism” stand for?” took place at the EAJC office. Experts in culturology, philosophy, sociology, history and modern art took part in the conference. The conference was organized by the Center for History and Culture Studies of East-European Jewry under the National University “Kiev-Mogilyanskaya Academy” (Director of the Center – Leonid Finberg, member of the EAJC General Council) with the participation of the Visual Culture Research Center NaUKMA, European Humanitarian Research Center NaUKMA, the Mogilyansk Journalism School, the French Cultural Center in Ukraine (Kiev) and the Polish Institute in Ukraine. The EAJC was one of the sponsors of the conference.
On May 22-24, the International conference “Jews in the post-Soviet territory: experience, problems and achievements”, dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the 1989 Riga Round Table, took place in Riga. Many of those who participated in the Riga conference twenty years ago, as well as community leaders from different countries – from Bulgaria to Uzbekistan, representatives of Israeli, American and International Jewish organizations along with scientists – sociologists, political analysts, fine art experts and ethnographers took part in the conference. During three days of intensive work, a variety of issues were discussed at the conference: identity, community formation, education, mass media, restitution of Jewish property, maintenance of cemeteries and items of material culture, xenophobia and anti-Semitism, etc. A separate session was dedicated to the performance of Israeli and international Jewish organizations, such as Sokhnut, Joint, OPT, HIAS and NCSJ. In December 2009, when we mark the 20th anniversary of the formation of Vaad in the Soviet Union, the discussion of urgent problems of the Jewish communities in the post-Soviet territory will be continued in Moscow. While the main theme at the Riga conference was the retrospective analysis of the 20-year-long way covered by the post-Soviet Jewish community, in Moscow, an attempt will be made to look into the future and to discuss the urgent challenges the communities face.
The International Center for Jewish Education and Field Studies was given assistance which enabled them to hold a summer school in the Crimea. Up to the spring of 2009, the EAJC youth club carried on its work under the auspices of the EAJC Moscow office and with the support of the Dutch Jewish Humanitarian Foundation. The club coordinator is Mikhail Vogman.
A number of sessions of the educational project “Limmud” were held under the auspices of the Euro-Asian Congress: on September 25-26, 2008, a session in Ashkelon which attracted about 1200 Russian-speaking participants, on October 27, 2008, in Yalta (Ukraine) – about 1000 participants from Russia, Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, countries of Central Asia and Israel.
Under the auspices of the EAJC, a scientific and practical conference “Problems of Publication and Translation of a Scientific Book” was held within the framework of the official program of the 22nd Moscow International Book Fair. The main organizers of the conference, dedicated to the 75th birth anniversary of the Jewish-Mountain literature classic Amaldan Kukullu, were the Federal Agency of Press and Mass Media and the Publishing House “Amaldanik”.
Within the framework of the “The EAJC Library” program, the Moscow office issued the following books: Timenchik R. D. “How Come: Articles about the Literature of the Past Century”; Croll M. A. “The Pages of My Life”. The EAJC Moscow office rendered assistance to the International “Memorial” in conducting the contest “Man in History. Russia the 20th century”. The ceremonial awarding of winners, among them the author of the best paper on a Jewish theme, took place on May 8, 2009. The journal “The Roots” also received some help which enabled it to carry on its work.
In the summer of 2009, thanks to the joint project of the Russian Society of Friends of Jewish University in Jerusalem and the EAJC, ten students from Russia once again had an opportunity to study Hebrew at the Jewish university in Jerusalem. The project of summer practical studies of Hebrew, which was launched in the summer of 2007, is quite popular with Russian students. The next practical study is planned for the winter of 2010.
Support of Jewish religious life
Like in previous years, the EAJC helped the communities of different countries to properly mark Passover and partially supplied the region countries with matzah. The communities of Kazakhstan and Russia allocated means for acquisition of matzah. The acquisition of matzah was partially sponsored by the Moldavian community in Ukraine where matzah was baked on the EAJC order. The Ukrainian Jewish communities were also partially supplied by the EAJC matzah. The EAJC also delivered matzah to the Azerbaijan communities.
During the last eight years, the EAJC President A. Mashkevich has been sponsoring, in the post-Soviet territory, the erection of new and the restoration of old synagogues. In 2009, a new synagogue was opened in Dushanbe, another one was built in Kostanay and an Ashkenazi synagogue was reconstructed in Tbilisi.
The opening of a new synagogue in Dushanbe took place on May 5. The new synagogue was granted to the Jewish community in substitution for the old one designated for demolition. The old synagogue had interfered with the town-planning of the country’s leaders and the Tadjikistan Jewish community could have been left without a synagogue. After a series of consultations and meetings of the EAJC President A. Mashkevich with the Tadjikistan President Emomali Rakhmon and some prominent businessmen, the world Jewish community was reassured by A. Mashkevich that the country’s authorities had offered a number of plots for the new synagogue instead of the old one. The Republic’s authorities had kept their word and thanks to the good will of the country’s leaders and the involvement of the EAJC, the Tadjikistan Jewish community got a new synagogue.
The new synagogue in Kostanay “Beit Rachel – Habad Lubavich” was opened on July 3. The following people took part in the stately ceremony: Head of the Kostanay Oblast Sergey Kulagin, Israel’s Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Iona Metzger, Israeli Minister of Religious Affairs Jacob Margie, Kazakhstan’s Chief Rabbi Yeshaya Cohen, Israel’s Ambassador to Kazakhstan Israel Mey-Ami, leaders of the EAJC and the Kazakhstan peoples Assembly, and other official representatives of Kazakhstan and Israel. Head of the Kostanay Oblast read off the congratulation sent by Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev. The new 893-square-meter building of the Kostanay synagogue admits about 100 worshippers.
On September 14-15, under the auspices of EAJC, ceremonial events dedicated to the opening of the restored Ashkenazi synagogue were held in Tbilisi. This synagogue is one more added to the number of Jewish prayer halls with the name Beit Rachel in memory of the Mother of the main sponsor, the EAJC President A. Mashkevich. Significant contributions to the restoration of one of Tbilisi’s oldest synagogues were made by the Russian businessman, the EAJC Vice President David Yakobashvili and an American businessman Timur Sapir, both are natives of Georgia.
In February 2008, an agreement with local authorities on the restoration of the synagogue was reached during the visit to Georgia of the united mission of EAJC and the Conference of Presidents of the USA Jewish organizations, headed by the EAJC President A. Mashkevich and the Conference Executive Director Malcolm Henline. Chairman of the EAJC General Council I. Zissels supervised the construction of the Synagogue.
A meeting between the EAJC management and the honorary participants of the ceremony including Catolicos – Patriarch of all Georgia Apostle Orthodox Church Ilia II took place during the ceremonial events. Mikhail Saakashvili, President of Georgia, and representatives of the state and capital authorities took part in the ceremony. Among the participants and guests of the ceremony were: the EAJC Vice Presidents Vitaly Mashitsky and Mark Shabbad, Head of the European Council of Rabbis, Chief Rabbi of Moscow Pinkhas Goldschmidt, President of the Russian Jewish Congress Yury Kanner, Head of the Shas faction in Jewish Parliament Abraham Mihaeli and other well-known public figures and representatives of the business community from different countries.
Granting Torah scrolls is yet another project within the program of supporting religious life in post-Soviet countries and countries-members of the EAJC. In September 2009, on the eve of the holiday Rosh Hashanah, communities of Sofia, Tokyo, Tbilisi and Ashdod received new scrolls.
The EAJC President A. Mashkevich lent financial support to the new edition of the book “Maor Israel” by Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, one of the greatest spiritual leaders of Israel. In the introduction to his book, Ovadia Yosef expressed gratitude to the EAJC leader. In the Rabbi’s opinion, Alexander Mashkevich “has done a lot for the Torah and Judaic religion in the whole world”. The idea of creating a “Rabbinate Center of Israel” that would unite all Israeli rabbis under the leadership of chief rabbis of the country was discussed at the meeting with Ovadia Yosef. The new center would also function beyond Israel bringing together Jewish organizations in the Diaspora countries to jointly solve problems facing the Jewry.
Throughout the year of 2008, the EAJC, with an active participation of the Congress President Alexander Mashkevich, helped to resolve the problem, which arose way back in 2002, concerning the World Center of Braslav Hasids (Israel) and the firm “Chance” (Ukraine). On October 20, by the decision of the Cherkassk region Economic Court, an amicable settlement agreement was confirmed and the sequestration from the Braslav Hasid property lifted.
In 2009, the EAJC President A. Mashkevich continued to render financial assistance to the World Center of Braslav Hassids. On September 16, 2009, a EAJC delegation visited the town of Uman (Cherkassk region, Ukraine) where Rabbi Nahman from Braslav, the great Hasid tsaddic, founder of Braslav Hasidism, is buried. That same day, the EAJC President Alexander Mashkevich and Chairman of the General Council Josef Zissels, together with the city authorities, took part in the conference “Problems and Prospects of Pilgrimage Sites” at which they discussed different aspects of legislative regulation and practical organization of religious pilgrimage to the grave of Rabbi Nahman in Uman. Answering the journalists’ questions, the EAJC President came out with an idea of creating a united coordination center which, in cooperation with the city authorities, on the one hand, and the World Center of Braslav Hasidism and the Nahman International Charity Foundation, on the other, would in a centralized manner take upon themselves the organization of pilgrims’ visits to Uman and the fulfillment of all their basic needs. Besides, Alexander Mashkevich spoke in favor of Ukrainian Parliament passing a law regulating pilgrims’ visits, by analogy with other countries hosting a great number of pilgrims, such as Israel and Saudi Arabia.
In 2009, the Rosenberg Yeshiva in Israel also received financial assistance from the EAJC.
Arranging international meetings and visits
On March 22, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, Josef Zisels and Arsenyi Finberg, member of a group of young diplomats under the auspices of the World Jewish Congress, had a meeting with Victor Kryzhanovski, Ambassador-at-Large of the Foreign Ministry of Ukraine. At the meeting, they discussed anti-Semitism and xenophobia and instances of their manifestation, as well as other issues of interest to both sides.
On May 20-22, the visit of the delegation of the American Jewish human rights advocate organization, Advocates on Behalf of Jews in Russia, Ukraine, the Baltic States and Eurasia (NCSJ) to Ukraine took place. The leaders of the delegation were Richard Stone, Alexander Shmukler and Mark Levin. In 2008, Mark Levine was awarded, by Ukrainian President, the order “Honoris Causa” for the great help rendered by NCSJ in repealing the Jackson-Vanik Amendment for Ukraine. On May 20, the delegation met with a big group of leaders of the Ukrainian Jewish community; on May 21 – with Chairman of the UFP Valentin Nalivaichenko and the USA and Israeli Ambassadors William Taylor and Zina Kalai-Kleitman; on May 22 – with acting Foreign Minister of Ukraine Vladimir Handogyi and Head of the Department on international issues of Ukrainian President’s Secretariat Nikolai Tochitsky. The Kiev EAJC office had fully arranged the visit of the delegation. The delegation of the NCSJ was accompanied by Joseph Zissels, who led a briefing for the NCSJ delegation in the morning of the 21st of May.
Foreign policy initiatives
On September 25, 2008, the EAJC delegation took part in the session of the World Jewish Congress General Council in Ashkelon.
On November 24, 2008, in Jerusalem, the EAJC delegation, headed by M. Chlenov and J. Zissels, took part in the forum of representatives of major international Jewish organizations held on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of independence declaration of the State of Israel.
On January 20, 2008, Alexander Mashkevich took part in the inauguration of the 44th American President Barack Obama.
On January 24, the EAJC President met with the UNO Secretary General Pan Gi Mun. Chairman of the International Association of Asian political parties Chung Yui Yong and the EAJC Secretary General Mikhail Chlenov were present at the meeting.
On January 26-27, the 13th Plenary Assembly of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) was held in Jerusalem. A numerous EAJC delegation headed by A. Mashkevich took part in the Assembly. The EAJC delegation represented Jewish communities from 15 countries of the Euro-Asian and Pacific regions (from India to Bulgaria). Under the chairmanship of A. Mashkevich, a sitting of the section of Judeo-Muslim relations took place within the framework of the WJC Plenary Assembly. The Assembly delegates re-elected the leadership. Ronald Lauder retained the post of the WJC President, Alexander Mashkevich became a validated member of the WJC Board, and the EAJC Vice President Edward Schifrin became the WJC Vice President. The WJC Plenary Assembly took place right after the anti-terrorist operation “Cast Lead” conducted by the Israel Defence Forces in Gaza. High ranking officials of the State of Israel and leaders of the opposition addressed the Assembly delegates: Prime Minister Ekhud Olmert, Tzipi Livni, Foreign Minister and the Kadima party leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, the Likud party leader.
A. Mashkevich and E. Shifrin were invited to a personal meeting with Shimon Peres, President of the State of Israel. At the meeting, the EAJC President, on behalf of the Plenary Assembly, expressed solidarity of the Diaspora Jews with Israel.
During his visit to Israel, A. Mashkevich visited Sderot, a town in the South of Israel which, throughout many years, had been subjected to constant terrorist rocket attacks from Gaza. Together with Vadim Rabinovich, his colleague and partner and All-Ukrainian Jewish Congress President, A. Mashkevich financed a number of programs concerning the restoration of the town and help to its citizens. The mayor of Sderot presented them with awards.
On February 16, a joint delegation of leaders of Euro-Asian and North American Jewish communities, with Alexander Mashkevich and Mikhail Chlenov among them, arrived in Rome where they participated in the meeting with Roman Pope Benedict XVI.
On March 20, in Yerevan, Mikhail Chlenov took part in the stately ceremony of opening, in Victory Park, the Alley of Armenia-Israel Friendship. The ceremony was held to mark the 60th anniversary of the independence of the State of Israel and was conducted with the assistance of EAJC.
The EAJC management took an active part in the campaign against the scandalous Durban Review Conference (“Durban 2”).
On April 17, The EAJC leadership issued an appeal to governments, parliaments and ministries of foreign affairs of the CIS countries calling upon them to boycott the conference.
On April 22, the EAJC leadership sent a telegram to UNO Secretary General Pan Gi Mun concerning the Durban Review Conference (“Durban 2”). On May 5-7, the EAJC delegation visited the USA. In the course of the visit, among other things, there were meetings with representatives of Jewish organizations concerned about the restitution of Jewish community property in Ukraine. Gerbert Block (JDC), Sol Keygan and Arie Buhmeister (Claims Conference) took part in the meeting. The meeting participants discussed the problems of restitution in Ukraine and the preparation for holding an international conference on “Holocaust-Era Assets” which was held in Prague at the end of June. Apart from that, there was a meeting with the Executive Director of the New York Jewish Federation Susan Green, Chairman of the American Forum of Russian Jewry Mikhail Nemirovsky, Director of the Russian Department of the American Jewish committee Sam Kliger, Executive Director of the National Conference (NCSJ) Mark Levine and the Kazakhstan Ambassador in USA Yerlan Idrisov. At the meeting, they discussed the joint actions of the aforementioned organizations concerning the repeal of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment for Kazakhstan. In Washington, the EAJC delegation took part in a regular congress of the American Jewish
On June 26-30, an International conference on Holocaust-era private and communal assets illegally confiscated by the Nazi from the Jews during the Holocaust time was held in Prague. It has become the greatest event over the last several years in the realm of discussing and realizing restitution of assets of European Jewish communities which suffered during World War II. The conference was organized by the Czech Republic and it coincided with the end of Czech chairmanship in the EC. Nobel Prize winner Eli Vizel, former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and the famous Israeli historian Yeguda Bauer took part in the conference and addressed the audience with speeches. J. Zissels came out with a report on the situation in Ukraine at the workshop devoted to the private and communal real estate.
On July 14-15, the sitting of the executive board of the Claims Conference was held in New York. At the sitting, it was decided to include EAJC and the International Union of Jews – former Nazi prisoners (UJFNP is part of EAJC) in the Claims Conference membership. According to the decision of the board, Mikhail Chlenov and President of UJFNP and member of the EAJC General Council Yefim Gologorsky were elected to the executive board of the Claims Conference.
On September 17, on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, a delegation of the EAJC leadership headed by the EAJC President Alexander Mashkevich, arrived in Israel to take part in an event demonstrating the solidarity of the Diaspora Jews with the State of Israel. On September 17, the delegation went to Ashdod. The visit to that seaside city was a continuation of the festive events in Tbilisi where two days before a synagogue of the Ashkenazi Jewish community “Beit Rachel” had been opened. The synagogue was restored at the expense of the EAJC President and his partners D. Jakobashvili and T. Sapir. After visiting the synagogue “Or Itzkhak”, at the city hall, the EAJC delegation met with the Ashdod mayor Ihiel Lasri and members of the city council. The following officials took part in The ceremonial meeting organized on the occasion of the EAJC president’s visit to the city: the head of the Sokhnut Natan Sharansky, head of the Knesset Shas faction Abraham Mihaeli, Vice-Mayor of Jerusalem Masha Novikova and other state and public figures.
Restructuring the EAJC
On December 8-10, 2008, session of the EAJC General Council was held in the Kazan, the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan (Russian Federation). At the session, members of the General Council discussed the EAJC current activities and the urgent problems of the region’s Jewish communities, and reports on the EAJC programs were presented. Members of the EAJC General Council discussed a number of important issues concerning the situation of Jewish communities against the background of a global crisis, problems of Jewish education on the post-Soviet territory, as well as anti-Semitism, xenophobia and violence on the grounds of hatred.
The EAJC General Council held a joint session with the Federal Jewish Ethnic and Cultural Autonomy (FJECA) which was, at the same time, conducting the Third Report and Election Conference in Kazan. The audience was addressed with greeting speeches by Vice Prime Minister of the Tatarstan Republic Boris Pavlov, deputy of the State Duma RF Federal Assembly Gulnara Sergeeva, head of the Tatarstan Chamber of Commerce & Industry Shamil Ageev, representatives of ORT-Russia (Public Television Service) and the Jewish Agency. Deputy-Minister of the Ministry for Regional Development Michael Travnikov, Plenipotentiary Representative of the RF President in the Privolzhsk Federal Okrug Grigory Rapota, Chief Rabbi of Russia Adolf Shayevich and Chairman of the Assembly Union of the peoples of Russia Ramazan Abdulatipov. There was a meeting of the EAJC leaders with Chairman of the Tatarstan State Soviet Farid Muhamedshin. There was also a business-forum held with the participation of Tatarstan businessmen and representatives of the EAJC Board of Directors where they discussed the financial crisis and ways of overcoming it. The round table on “Interconfessional dialogues – a way to tolerance” attracted Orthodox, Catholic and Judaic clergymen.
Over the past year, the Congress faced a number of problems arising not only due to the economic crisis but also to the overall crisis of Jewish organizations all over the world. A number of programs had to be cut. Under the present circumstances, the EAJC President A. Mashkevich decided to restructure the Congress. Under the decision, Y. K. Raskin was appointed executive Vice President who would coordinate the work of all Congress offices. At present, in Moscow, there is a joint EAJC office which includes the office of the Secretary General, the office of the PR department and the office of the Executive Vice-President.
Despite financial difficulties and the restructuring, on the basis of the Moscow office the Expert Group on Resistance to anti-Semitism carried on its work. The group was formed on the initiative of the EAJC Commission on the Countries of the Former USSR (Mikhail Chlenov and Chaim Cheslerare co-chairmen of the Commission). In the same way as before, members of the group carry out a constant monitoring of manifestations of instances of anti-Semitism and, monthly, spread its results in the form of electronic distribution. The Group experts work out analytical materials, take part in court trials, etc.
Throughout this year, just like in all the past years, the Moscow EAJC office has been in constant cooperation with governmental organizations of the region. Mikhail Chlenov, on a regular basis, took an active part in meetings and consultations held by the Russian Ministry for Regional Development, the RF Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Coordination Center of Russian National and Cultural Autonomies on problems arising in the life of ethnic communities.