This piece from KP is still timely for review on this, the 6th day of Hanukkah 2018. The reporter is Edward Chesnokov. His name sounds kind of funny in Russian, because “chesnok” means garlic! Chesnokov interviewed a young man named Shota Mirilashvili [very Jewish name!] who is the leader of the All-Russian Union of Jewish Students.
To put things in context: Just last month a brand new synagogue was opened in Kaliningrad (Konigsberg). Back in 1938 the Nazis destroyed the original synagogue, but now it has been rebuilt. Kaliningrad Jews feel completely safe; unlike their brothers in “tolerant” Western Europe, where Jews and migrants are under increasing attacks from fascist hooligans. Even in the “tolerant” United States of America, some anti-Semitic fanatic (October 27) opened fire on a synagogue in Pittsburgh, killing 11 people. Of course, it goes without saying that violent psychopaths exist in every nation of the planet, including Russia. The main difference being, how governments and societies react to such freaks living among them, and what is done to avert such crimes in the future.
Chesnokov: In 2006 I was studying at the Literary Institute not a stone’s throw away from the synagogue on Bronnaya [Moscow]. And it was a similar scene: a winter night, suddenly sirens, police, ambulances. It turned out that some psycho with a knife attacked the synagogue, he wounded the Rabbi and some of the worshippers. It was a nightmare.
Mirilashvili: As in any country, one sometimes encounters in Russia incidents of everyday anti-Semitism and xenophobia. (…) However, as far as I know, there have not been any major incidents in the past few years. For sure there were some isolated episodes of defacing Jewish cemeteries, that sort of thing. But the main thing is in the trend: Russian society is definitely becoming more tolerant.
I want to stress, that in today’s Russia the doors of all the synagogues and community centers are open. We have operational Jewish kindergartens, schools, theaters, the Jewish Museum and the Tolerance Center in Moscow. We also have top-notch restaurants and luxury boutiques; all of our major (Jewish) holidays are celebrated publicly — for example, Hanukkah in the Kremlin Palace. All of this is supported at the governmental level. It is extremely important for the government to show, that Jews are not only safe on the streets, but also able to lead a full and variegated lifestyle in the (Russian) diaspora.
[to be continued]