Organized National Life of Russian Jews in the Late Soviet and Post-Soviet Era: a View from Moscow

, April 30, 2002

Jewish Political Studies Review 14:1-2 (Spring 2002)

 

The reestablishment of organized Jewish life in the Russian Federation involved four steps: The period of informal, mostly underground and dispersed Jewish movements of the late Soviet era (from the late 1970s until 1989); the period of the first legal umbrella organizations, which dominated organized Jewish life during 1989-1996; the second half of the 1990s, featuring the leading role of the Russian Jewish Congress and affiliated organizations; and the period of the regrouping of political and organizational structures, which began in 2000.

 

The reestablishment of organized Jewish life in the Russian Federation started in the context of Jewish communal and cultural revival in the waning days of the USSR. This revival had features in common with the post-Communist Jewish movement in general, as well as its own unique features, and involved four steps. The first was the period of informal, mostly underground and dispersed Jewish movements of the late Soviet era (from the late 1970s until 1989). The second step was the period of the first legal umbrella organizations, which dominated organized Jewish life during 1989-1996. The third period, covering the second half of the 1990s, featured the leading role of the Russian Jewish Congress and affiliated organizations. Finally, the fourth period saw the regrouping of political and organizational structures, which began in 2000.

Although some aspects of this process were discussed in recent publications,1 the institutional angle in the revival of the Russian Jewish movement has yet to be studied in depth. The Legacy of the Underground Period

The organizations and activists of the underground Jewish movement, which were the only forms of independent Jewish activity from the 1960s until the early 1980s, still dominated the revival of organized Jewish life in Russia in the second half of the 1980s. The reasons were as follows:

  1. The experience and potential for cadre, gained by the Russian Jewish groups, were paradoxically strengthened by the official ban imposed on Jewish emigration and other activities.2

  2. Connections with the Jewish diaspora and the State of Israel, which were established first of all with the help of the Lishkat Ha-kesher (Liaison Bureau).3

  3. Even with the lifting of mass political repression, official anti-Semitism as a policy remained in the 1980s, which caused Russian Jews to create their own informal subculture.

  4. New opportunities were provided to Soviet Jewry during Gorbachev’s perestroika period in the late 1980s, along with open political anti-Semitism and Russian fascism.4

Under these conditions, various informal groups and organizations began to form, representing various trends of the underground independent Jewish movement –refusniks, culturniks, and independent religious organizations. The leading informal organizations of the 1980s were the Jewish Historical-Ethnographic Commission, the Association of Hebrew Teachers – Ihud Ha-morim, the Association of Friendship and Cultural Relations with Israel – ODIKSI (more than 300 members in 26 cities), the Jewish Information Center in Moscow, Machanaim Religious Zionist Society, the Moscow Jewish Cultural-Enlightenment Association (more than 2,000 individual and 15 collective members), and the Association of Second World War Veterans and Former Ghetto and Concentration Camps Prisoners.5 Other organizations included Hineini (a Progressive Judaism Association) and Bednye Rodstvenniki (Poor Relatives – an association that cared for divided families and for those who did not get permission to emigrate from their relatives); the Maccabi Jewish sports society; and B’nai B’rith.

Upon emerging from the underground at the end of the 1980s, these associations increased their work, attempting to unite their forces – at the beginning on an informal basis – and seeking official recognition by the USSR government. The first association of this kind was the Jewish Cultural Association (JCA), which was founded on 11 September 1988, and which united almost all prominent Jewish activists in Moscow and the USSR.6

The authorities first tried to suppress independent Jewish initiatives. The last successful action of this sort was the ban on a Jewish meeting against anti-Semitism in Moscow in autumn 1987. However, attempts to prevent the formation of the JCA were unsuccessful.

Simultaneously, Soviet authorities also tried to insert these Jewish initiatives into the official framework. In Moscow, for instance, there were so-called official Jewish institutions of the Soviet epoch (i.e., the Sovietish Heimland journal, edited by Aaron Vergilis, and the Anti-Zionist Committee of the Soviet Public).7 However, at the end of the 1980s, after the creation of the JCA, the authorities initiated other structures – the Association of Friends and Actors of the Jewish Culture, and Vestnik Evreiskoi Sovetsko Kul’tury (the Herald of Soviet Jewish Culture), established in clear opposition to Riga-based independent Vestnik Evreiskoi Kul’tury as the Shalom Culture Society, first headed by L. Shapiro (where the political career of Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the current leader of the Russian ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic party, began).

By the end of the first period, at the height of perestroika, a number of Jewish public initiatives had a “mixed” character. They were supported by both informal Jewish activists and the Soviet establishment. The Moscow-based Shalom Society and Solomon Michoels Center in Moscow are good examples of this trend. The end of the 1980s saw a large increase in Jewish organizations outside Moscow, first of all in the form of Jewish culture societies.8

Another feature of the same period was the establishment of stable contacts between Soviet and western Jewish activists – firstly with American Jews and representatives of the State of Israel who worked in the Israeli diplomatic mission attached to the Embassy of the Netherlands.9

The round table on Soviet Jewish affairs, held in Riga in May 1989, became a turning point. As a result of the decisions taken there, a congress of Jewish representatives took place in December 1989 in Moscow, with the creation of the Va’ad of Jewish Organizations and Communities of the USSR the major outcome of this congress.

The first period of the Russian Jewish revival movement had some characteristic features. It was a period of idealism, promoting considerable enthusiasm in Russian Jewry, but lacking officially recognized independent structures and permanent and stable financing. (The exception was sporadic support by western Jewish organizations for refuseniks, as well as for some religious and Zionist groups.)

The sustaining trait of Jewish life in Moscow was a movement, as seen by the participants, towards uniting forces, while the organizational and planning work was concentrated, among others, in Michail Chlenov’s group, Mashka. The group brought together some prominent figures of the dissident period who were still in Russia after most of their colleagues had left for Israel in 1987-1989. Thus, cultureniks and Zionists, Hassids and reformists, and other groups peacefully coexisted in a still informal Jewish movement. Since all these groups were still under government pressure, their rivalry was replaced by cooperation and mutual assistance.

Finally, the first period was also the time of advancement of many Jewish activists who, in the next decade, became leaders in Jewish communal politics and professions in Russia (V. Babaeva, E. Lvova, A. Frenkel, L. Kolton, E. Zhigun, and others), as well as political leaders of the Russian-speaking community in Israel (N. Sharansky, Z. Geyzel, Y. Edelstein, Y. Shtern, to mention just a few). In the 1980s, however, these people were still in the “romantic period” of their political career. The external Jewish world and the State of Israel was viewed by them, as well as by the overwhelming majority of local Jews, through an heroic mythology, which was a result of official Soviet anti-Zionist propaganda.

The situation became more complicated in the years following the disintegration of the Soviet empire and the appearance of “democratic” Russia on the post-Soviet political map.

 

The Russian Jewish Va’ad and Beyond

The first half of the 1990s, which was the second period of revival of an organized Russian Jewish movement, saw the dominance of organizations which grew out of the Va’ad of Jewish Organizations and Communities of the USSR, founded in December 1989. The breakdown of the Soviet Union had an effect on the Jewish movement. For instance, the organizational structure of the Jewish Va’ad was weakened at its second convention in January 1991 due to the separatist position of Latvian and Ukrainian Jewish organizations.10 The status of the Va’ad’s co-chairman, consensus leader and spokesman, Michail (Micha) Chlenov, was also considerably challenged, mainly due to his position which he himself defined as being part of the centralist trend in the Soviet Jewish community.11 Among other issues, there was a cleavage between Jewish leaders over the Va’ad’s participation in either the European or Eurasian Jewish structures. Y. Zissels and G. Krupnikov supported the first, while Chlenov supported the latter.

The Jewish Va’ad crisis continued at its third convention in Odessa in May 1992. Here, Va’ad delegates from Ukraine became leading opponents to what they called “Moscow domination,” thus performing in the Jewish movement the same role as their ethnic Ukrainian counterparts who were working towards Ukrainian independence from the USSR. The official position of the Ukrainian Jewish Va’ad at that time was to support the transformation of the USSR Va’ad into a loose umbrella coordinating structure which would grant full independence to the republic organizations with no interference in their internal affairs.12 As a result of Ukrainian-Baltic separatism, supported by the head of the Jewish community of Moldova, S. Vaisman, the convention symbolized the final stage of the united all-USSR Jewish community.13 By that time, the Jewish population in many of the former Soviet republics had already established their own umbrella institutions. Among them was the Russian Jewish Va’ad, founded in spring 1992 in Nizhny Novgorod.

The political conflict between various factions in the Russian Jewish elite did not disappear, and even increased over time. This conflict was reflected in the confrontation within the Russian Jewish Va’ad leadership which became evident in 1993 and which dealt with political strategy and methods of management of the organization. The main cleavage was between the public political group of Michail Chlenov, and the communal professional group of Eugene Satanovsky. While the first group preserved the tradition of a separate Jewish section in the democratic movement of the perestroika period, the second insisted on the professionalization of the leadership in the Russian Jewish organizations and their integration into Russian government structures.

The conflict between these two groups resulted in a crisis in the Russian Va’ad and the resignation of 5 out of 12 of the members of the Va’ad’s Presidium (E. Satanovsky, P. Feldblium, L. Ashkenazi, T. Golenpolskii and Yu. Lukach), at its second congress in St. Petersburg in 1994.14

The second period was also the time of the real meeting of Russian Jewry with world Jewry. Western and international Jewish organizations started to work in the USSR, including Russia, from the end of the 1980s, and more actively since 1991. The peak of their expansion was in the first half of the 1990s, a result of the legal vacuum in post-Communist Russia, a liberal atmosphere in the state, and the lack of interest in foreign Jewish organizations or a positive approach to them by the Russian government, as well as the financial and organizational weakness of post-Communist Jewish communities. The post-Soviet world became an attraction for some foreign Jewish organizations, with the most mobile of them (though not necessarily the most important in Israel, the U.S., or Europe) able to capture the “market” and thus gain from their status as a channel for resources allocated for the needs of the Soviet Jewry.

By the mid-1990s, a change occurred in the field of Russian Jewish work. Representatives of Israeli political parties and some foreign Jewish religious organizations did not survive. On the other hand, organizations representing the State of Israel and large American and international Jewish organizations took root and began to create their own infrastructure in the CIS, buying real estate, recruiting local cadres, and establishing relations with the political and bureaucratic powers.

Some of these organizations (except for Israeli government agencies) also attempted to organize local fundraising for their projects. This led to confrontations among foreign Jewish organizations as well as between foreign and local organizations. These confrontations were especially evident between 1994 and 1997.

Some of the foreign Jewish organizations tried to gain a dominant position in the local Jewish community or even replace its institutions with their own. They included some Orthodox organizations, such as Habad and its Or Avner Foundation, as well as some of the JDC structures. Another model, one of constructive cooperation with local Jewish organizations, was tried by Nativ, ORT, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, some JDC and Jewish Agency structures, as well as the Anti-Defamation League and several organizations of Reform and Orthodox Judaism.

Some foreign Jewish organizations went even further by integrating their activities into the infrastructure of Russian Jewish communal initiatives. Among them were the world Jewish charitable movement HAMA (represented in Russia by Rabbi D. Karpov and G. Yelinson); the Gesharim publishing group of Michael Greenberg called the Sefer; the Center of University Studies of Judaism, sponsored by the Israeli government and the JDC, as well as some religious, including Orthodox, organizations, especially those headed by Rabbi P. Goldsmit. Finally, there are some foreign Jewish and Israeli organizations that have constructed their own agenda of activities in the CIS, having very little, if anything, to do with local Jewish structures. Among them are HIAS – the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society for emigrants to the U.S., the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Israel Ministry of Education, and the Jewish Theological Seminary (the Conservative movement’s academic institution which opened its Judaica and Bible Studies project in the Moscow-based Russian State University of Humanities).

The professional Jewish organizations, which created the framework for the institutional infrastructure of the Russian Jewish community, began to operate in the first half of the 1990s. They included numerous synagogues, welfare and charitable organizations (both local, united in the HAMA Association, and foreign, sponsored by the Joint), the Jewish universities in Moscow and St. Petersburg, and research centers such as the Jewish Research Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Many informal Jewish structures of the first period, such as the Jewish Information Center and Maccabi, were registered and also began working on a formal basis.

In this same period, functional and political cleavages between these Jewish organizations became more evident. The struggle for power and the competition for financial and other resources were the main causes of these cleavages, both on the national and local levels. In the early 1990s, this conflict was seen inside the Jewish Orthodox religious movements (including the confrontation between Hasidic and local non-Hasidic communities), as well as between the Orthodox religious camp and Reform and secular communities.

Financially, the communal life of Russian Jewry in the first half of the 1990s was very dependent on the work of local volunteers and foreign donations. Internal fundraising was limited. Thus, the first convention of the Jewish Va’ad was organized with the help of local donors and volunteers. Regular donations of hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for Jewish programs were provided by two commercial companies – the Ariel Group, headed by the author of this article (mainly for secular projects), and the Tehiya company, headed by Leonid Roitman (mainly for religious projects). Nevertheless, despite attempts to create a “Convention of the Jewish Businessmen of Russia” affiliated with the Va’ad, organized fundraising did not exist in that period.

All in all, the amount of resources invested in the Russian Jewish community in 1991-1995 may be estimated at a few million dollars, including about $2,000,000 collected locally.15

 

The Rise and Decline of the Russian Jewish Congress

The growing demand for professional services normally provided by Jewish communities, and especially the need for alternative financial resources for communal activities, promoted the involvement of Russian Jewish businessmen. This involvement was institutionalized in the form of the Russian Jewish Congress, which was established in January 1996 under the leadership of Vladimir Goussinsky.16 The RJC united approximately 50 leading regional Jewish communities in Russia, as well as almost every major religious, professional, and public Jewish structure of the country, together with prominent Jewish representatives of academia, cultural and sports life.17

In the period of domination of the Russian Jewish Congress in the second half of the 1990s, some new features appeared in the Russian Jewish community. Among them were the formation of an indigenous Russian Jewish elite, the formalizing of the basic institutions of the community and a mechanism for their relations with the Russian government, Israel, and the Jewish world, and the development of models for internal fundraising and the financing and management of major projects. In addition, the RJC created a new situation in relations between foreign and local Jewish organizations. New partnerships were established alongside the traditional patronage of the Russian Jewish communities by Israeli and international Jewish organizations. The organizational and financial activities of the Russian Jewish Congress made foreign Jewish organizations correct their vision and work more in conjunction with new Russian realities. For instance, such influential Jewish organizations as the World Jewish Congress, the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations of the USSR, the National Conference for Soviet Jewry, the Joint, the Anti-Defamation League, ORT, the Jewish Agency, found it necessary to come to formal agreements with the RJC between 1996 and 2001.

Between 1996 and 2000 the Congress raised and distributed $43.5 million, including more than $11 million in the peripheral areas.18 (For the dynamics of the allocation of RJC funds during the years 1996-1990, reflecting changes in the Congress’s strategy, see Appendix I.) The Congress’s largest project during the second half of the 1990s was the building of the Memorial synagogue and the Holocaust Museum at Mount Poklonnaia in Moscow.

The Russian Jewish Congress became the model for the formation of similar congresses in the most economically developed former Soviet states. These organizations were headed by top local businessmen such as V. Rabinovich in Ukraine and A. Mashkevich in Kazakhstan, who helped fund a substantial part of local Jewish programs. The leaders of the first period of the organized Jewish movement either became part of the congresses’ leadership (like M. Chlenov in Russia), or started a confrontation with newcomers such as Yosef Zissels and a few of the Hassidic rabbis in Ukraine.19

The competition between secular and religious elements in the Russian Jewish Congress was resolved by the end of the 1990s, resulting in relative equality in the redistribution of resources among the principal Russian Jewish organizations and movements. This was done due to their professionalism and the serious role they were playing in the building of the Jewish population’s future.

This balance of power was not to the liking of the Habad movement in Russia, especially by that group headed by former vice-president of the Russian Jewish Congress and noted Israeli-Russian businessman, Lev Levayev, and Rabbi Ber Lazar. To a large extent, this group was the catalyst for the crises between the Congress leadership and President Vladimir Putin’s administration.20

As a result, for the first time since the 1980s, the Russian Jewish community was placed under substantial pressure by the authorities. In addition, the “rabbinical war” between the Congress-supported Chief Rabbi of Russia A. Shaievich and Rabbi Ber Lazar, who was supported by the opposition, resulted in the creation of the Federation of Jewish Organizations and Communities of Russia, which was based on the Levayev and Lazar groups.

The Federation almost immediately opened a front of conflict both with the Russian Jewish Congress and with other umbrella organizations – the secular Va’ad of Jewish Organizations and Communities of Russia, the Confederation of Jewish Religious Organizations and Communities of Russia (an Association of Reform and non-Hassidic Orthodox Jewish communities), the independent Association of Progressive Judaism, the municipal Jewish community of Moscow, as well as with some Hassidic communities which did not join the FJOCR. In fact, the Federation became politically affiliated with the Kremlin, a role which in the early 1980s was filled by the Soviet Public Anti-Zionist Committee, and by the Association of Friends and Actors of the Jewish Culture at the end of the decade.21

Despite current trends toward overcoming the split in the Jewish movement of Russia, the FJCR leaders continue their efforts to become the sole official Jewish organization. At the same time, they are trying to provide the JOCR with a more secular character, to strengthen its communal base in the Russian provinces outside Moscow, as well as to improve its image in the West and in Israel. To some extent, these activities are successful due to the strong internal organization of the Federation, the active functioning of FJCR envoys in the Russian regions, as well as Levayev’s activities to strengthen the economic dimension of the Russian-Israeli relationship. Even more important is the extensive use of the “Kremlin power resource,” including the active support of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, who has openly demonstrated his closeness to the Lubavitch-dominated group and has officially declared the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia, a “highly constructive and influential organization.”22

Finally, the crisis in RJC relations with the Russian government, which was promoted by Levayev’s Habad camp, not only strengthened this faction but also promoted the advancement of foreign Jewish organizations, especially the Joint Distribution Committee. The JDC was able to progress with the building of its own empire in Russia, often at the expense of the local Jewish communities.23

Foreign Jewish organizations currently active in Russia have developed specific strategic priorities. From the point of view of the Russian Jewish community, their policies fit into one of the following patterns:

 

  1. Strategic partnership in the construction of the Russian Jewish community (JDC, Jewish Agency, ORT, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, HAMA and Gesharim).

  2. Tactical cooperation, mainly at the international level, in strengthening relations between the Russian Jewish community and the State of Israel and world Jewish Diaspora.

  3. Moderate patronage, when the structures, which reach their own goals, partially meeting the interests of local Jewry (Ministry of Education of Israel).

  4. Patronage of the “colonial type,” aiming to increase the dominance of foreign donors in the local community.

  5. Aggressive expansion, which means to “conquer” local Jewish communal properties and financial resources and to establish a total control over relations between specific communities and governments.

  6. An “instrumental” approach, that is, fundraising for “Soviet Jews” in order to attain the financial goals of foreign organizations.

  7. A positive and/or neutral approach, wherein foreign organizations implement their mission statement which in fact promotes, in an indirect way, interests of local communities.

Concerning the general narrowing of the space for Jewish communal activities in contemporary Russia due to emigration and negative demographic factors, one can expect that foreign Jewish organizations will continue to act according to numbers 4, 5, and 6 above. For a certain period of time this might bring some dividends to organizations which enjoy the greatest access to finance and power. However, these policies are unlikely to be very successful in the long run.

 

Conclusion: Current Developments and Future Prospects

The current stage in the development of the Jewish community of Russia began at the threshold of the twenty-first century, and demonstrates new, important changes in the structure and activities of the leading players in Jewish politics. These changes started with the replacement of Vladimir Goussinsky as president of the Russian Jewish Congress with Leonid Nevzlin, a top manager of the YUKOS oil company (headed by a leading Jewish businessman, Mikhail Khodorkovsky).24

The new Congress leadership has opened a new stage in the organization’s policies. “Secular” projects currently dominate over “religious” ones. Most of RJC’s long-term activities are directed towards the creation of long-term professional elements of the communal infrastructure. The main ones are the Jewish Street project, which includes the building of the largest Jewish communal center in the CIS near the Jewish Choral Synagogue in Moscow, the reconstruction of which is nearing completion, a sports and children’s center – Maccabi-Moscow, and the campus of the Jewish University in Moscow, which will also contain a large library and museum complex.

Two more factors will be critical for organized Jewish life in Russia, both now and in the future. The first is the character of relations of the Russian Jewish umbrella structures with the Russian government. This factor is even more important because of current social and political trends featuring the establishment, in the short term, of stronger state control over the public religious sphere than was the case in the 1990s. This is occurring as part of the economic and political stabilization process in the country due to the strengthening of centralized regulation and state control, which comes together with the suppression of economic and political freedom. This recalls the first period of revival of the Russian Jewish community in the late 1980s, a period of state-guided patronage over the official Jewish organizations which oppose non-authorized Jewish activities.

Another factor will be relations between Russian Jewish communal structures and Israeli and international Jewish organizations. The new strategy of these relations for the twenty-first century should be based on mutual rights, cooperation, and the financial and organizational independence of the local Jewish communities. This is now being developed by the Russian Jewish Congress and other Russian Jewish structures.

In general terms, the Russian Jewish community at the turn of the century succeeded in developing its own strategy for survival, the implementation of which is just a matter of mobilizing financial resources. The strategic priorities for communal activities include programs both on Russian territory and in places where there is a high concentration of Russian-speaking Jews outside it, such as in the other CIS states, Israel, the U.S., and Germany. They also include the development of professional staff for the local Jewish communities and organizations, as well as defining future relations between Russian Jews, the Jewish world, and the State of Israel.

The revival of Russian Jewry is, after the establishment of the State of Israel, the most prominent event in post-World War II Jewish history. Although the impact and consequences of this event for the Jewish world are not yet fully researched, it is already clear that the trends among Russian Jews will greatly contribute to the appearance of the Jewish people in the twenty-first century. Russian Jewry is the only Jewish community in the world, which is not only being assimilated, but rather it is assimilating the descendants of mixed marriages into the Jewish community, due to its ethnic national, and not only religious characteristic. These are Russian Jews who represent a new type of identity, where educational values, in the broad meaning of this word, dominate pure religious ones, and thus demand a new type of teacher of Jewish tradition – one who is not a rabbi but a university professor. Finally, these are Russian Jews who organically combine the diaspora and the Jewish state as the sustaining nerve of day-to-day Jewish life.25 All of this creates hope for the future of organized Jewish life in Russia.

 

Appendix I

Allocations for Russian Jewish Congress Charitable Programs, 1996-2000 
(not including RJC regional branches; in U.S. dollars)

Programs \ Year 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000
Religious programs 340,294 1,047,584 501,243 540,032 766,483
Social programs 243,950 274,290 399,415 359,150 424,000
Sport 32,410 156,000 11,000 100,000 76,000
Cultural programs 156,247 727,317 322,960 261,745 332,014
Anti-defamation 13,900 57,328 31,070 45,900 50,000
Primary and secondary education 234,700 464,963 199,000 429,000 180,000
Higher religious education 220,000 200,460 53,500 150,000 75,000
Higher secular education and science 75,000 369,586 327,300 328,700 855,876
Memorial Synagogue on Poklonnaia Gora 8,502,591 4,829,874 210,000 210,000
Special and regional projects 205,500 1,004,600
International projects 290,000 416,000

Source: RJC annual reports, 1996-2000.

 

Appendix 2

Funds for Communal Programs Collected by the Russian Jewish Congress, 1996-2000 
(including regional branches; in U.S. dollars)

Year Total Regions Programs Offices Events
1996 3,430,000 790,000 2,125,000 667,000 638,000
1997 15,630,634 2,377,470 15,159,094 436,940 34,600
1998 10,028,126 2,070,781 8,746,143 318,983 963,000
1999 6,520,874 2,650,710 6,145,737 300,000 75,137
2000 7,805,943 3,137,914 6,869,093 603,350 333,500
Total 43,415,577 11,026,875 39,045,067 2,326,273 2,044,237
% 100 25.4 89.9 5.4 4.7

Source: RJC annual reports, 1996-2000.

*     *     *

 

Notes

1. See Mordechai Altshuler, “Soviet Jewry – A Community in Turmoil,” in Robert S. Wistrich, ed., Terms of Survival – The Jewish World Since 1945 (London: Routledge, 1995); Benjamin Pinkus, Sofah shel tkufah: yehudei brit ha-mo’atsot b’eydan Gorbachov, 1985-1991 (The End of an Epoch: The Jews of the Soviet Union in the Gorbachev Period, 1985-1991) (Sde Boker, Israel, 1999); Vladimir Khanin, “Money and Politics: Jewish Community Reconstruction in the Post-Communist Ukraine,” Shvut: Studies in Russian and East European Jewish History and Culture (Tel Aviv), no. 9 (2000), (forthcoming). 
2. See, inter alia, Edward Drachman, Challenging the Kremlin: The Soviet Jewish Movement for Freedom (New York: Paragon House, 1991); Robert O. Freedman, ed., Soviet Jewry in the 1980s: The Politics of Anti-Semitism and Emigration and the Dynamics of Resettlement (Durham/London: Duke University Press, 1989); Yaacov Ro’i, ed., Jews and Jewish Life in Russia and the Soviet Union (London: Frank Cass, 1995). 
3. Lishkat Ha-kesher (“The Liaison Bureau,” also known as Nativ) was created in 1952 as a branch of the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, in order to keep connections with Eastern European Jewry and coordinate the struggle for their rights for emigration. For a description of their activities on behalf of Soviet Jews in the 1950s through the early 1980s, see Nehemia Levanon, Hakod – “Nativ” (Tel Aviv, 1995). 
4. Valentin Ostotskii, “Intelligentsia i anti-semitism” [Intelligentsia and Anti-Semitism], in Nuzhen li Gitler Rossii? (Moscow: Pik, 1996), pp. 47-56. 
5. Aleph, no. 259 (January 1989):12-25. 
6. The initial group, which included Mikhail Baturinskii, Eugene Satanovsky, Velvel (Vladimir) Chernin, Michail Chlenov, and Roman Spektor, met on the editorial board of the samizdat journal Problemy otkaza, 21 June 1988. See Informatsionnyi bulleten’ po voprosam repatriatsii i evreiskoi kul’tury (IBREK) (Moscow), no. 15 (1988), and Vladimir Khanin’s article in this journal. 
7. See Velvel Chernin’s article in this volume. 
8. For details, see Vladimir Khanin, “Perestroika and Jewish Cultural Associations in Ukraine, 1987-1991,” Jews in Eastern Europe (Jerusalem), no. 2 (42) (Fall 2000):5-24. 
9. After the break in diplomatic relations between the USSR and Israel, Israel’s interests in the USSR were represented by the Dutch Embassy. For the activity of the Dutch Embassy in Moscow in connection with Soviet Jewish affairs, see Petrus Buwalda, They Did Not Dwell Alone. Jewish Emigration from the Soviet Union, 1967-1990<.I> (Washington, Baltimore, and London: WWC Press and Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997). 
10. Personal observation of Eugene Satanovsky. The separatist trend was presented in the most concentrated way by Ukrainian Jewish leader Yosef Zissels and Latvian Jewish leaders Gennadii Krupnikov and Samuel Zilberg. See Zissels’ presentation at the Second Va’ad Convention in Yosef Zissels, Esli ya tol’ko dlia sebia… [If I am Only for Myself] (Kiev: Inst. for Jewish Studies, 2000), pp. 92-104. 
11. Michail Chlenov, “Stanovlenie evreikikh organizatsii v Rossii” [The Establishment of Jewish Organizations in Russia]. Paper presented at the international conference “Ten Years of Post-Soviet Jewish Communal Revival,” Kiev, August 2000. 
12. Yosef Zissels, “Va’ad: chto budem delat’ dal’she?” [Va’ad: Which Way Ahead?], Hadashot (Kiev), no. 2 (March 1999). 
13. “Materials of the Third Convention of the USSR Jewish Va’ad, Odessa, May 1992.” Archive of the USSR Jewish Va’ad, 1989-1993, Institute for Israel and Middle Eastern Studies, Moscow. 
14. Archive of the Russian Jewish Va’ad, 1992-1994, Institute for Israel and Middle Eastern Studies, Moscow. 
15. Author’s estimation. 
16. Interfax, 19 January 1996. 
17. Archive of the Russian Jewish Congress, 1996-2001, Institute for Israel and Middle Eastern Studies, Moscow. 
18. See annual reports of the Russian Jewish Congress for the years 1996-2000. 
19. For details, see Khanin’s article in this volume. 
20. Author’s personal observations. 
21. Lev Gorodetsky, “Kremlin Stirs Up Jewish Anger by Naming Lubavitch Rabbi to Panel,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, 25 March 2001. 
22. Lev Gorodetsky, “New Russian Habad Center Signals Growth of Jewish Life,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, 19 September 2000. 
23. See Yosef Zissels’ article in this issue. 
24. Lev Gorodetsky “Goussinsky Resignation Seen as Surrender to Kremlin,” Jerusalem Post, 23 March 2001. In December 2001 Leonid Nevzlin was appointed a member of the Upper House of the Russian parliament, and thus resigned from his position as president of the Russian Jewish Congress and was replaced by Eugene Satanovsky, the author of this article.
25. See Alexander Militarev, Evreiskaia identichnost’ (The Jewish Identity) (Moscow: IIMES, 2001); and Zvi Gittelman, Vladimir Cherviakov and Vladimir Shapiro,Natzionalnoie samosoznani’e rossiiskikh evreev (National Identity of Russian Jews. Results of a Sociological Study) (Moscow: IIMES, 2001).

Eugene Satanovsky

Eugene Satanovsky is President of the Institute of Middle Eastern Studies.