Dr. Betsy Gidwitz

Dr. Betsy Gidwitz, a member of the Jerusalem Center's Board of Overseers and formerly a Soviet-area specialist in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is now an independent consultant in Chicago.

Publications by Dr. Betsy Gidwitz

Post-Soviet Jewry on the Cusp of Its Third Decade – Part 2

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee continues to do essential work in the post-Soviet states, but financial distress has caused the organization to sharply curtail its welfare services to vulnerable Jewish population groups. The cutbacks are due as much to decisions by North American Jewish federations to reduce subventions to international programs before the onset of the current financial crisis as to the crisis itself. Read More »

Post-Soviet Jewry: Critical Issues

To observe the Jewish population in the successor states to the Soviet Union is to be bewildered, so numerous and complex are the variables that define this large and remarkable segment of world Jewry. Read More »

Post-Soviet Jewry on the Cusp of Its Third Decade – Part 1

Demographically, post-Soviet Jewry has seen an overall decline resulting from assimilation, intermarriage, low fertility, high mortality, and emigration of younger age cohorts. Some demographers believe that less than 500,000 Jews remain in the post-Soviet states. An intermarriage rate that some view as exceeding 80 percent creates complex situations for those Jewish groups that prefer to confine their programs to halachically Jewish individuals Read More »

Jewish Life in Independent Ukraine: Fifteen Years After the Soviet Collapse* (Part 2)

It is difficult to be optimistic about Jewish communal life in Ukraine. The Jewish population is declining rapidly and assimilation continues among those who remain. The intermarriage rate is extraordinarily high, and attractive gateways to Jewish community life are limited. Current Jewish programs engage a segment of the younger Jewish population and more of the very old; very few attractive Jewish opportunities exist for well-educated urban Jews in the broad age range between university and retirement, the cohort from which leadership is drawn. It is doubtful that more than 15 percent of Jews in this age cohort in major cities are active in any aspect of Jewish life. Read More »

Jewish Life in Independent Ukraine: Fifteen Years After the Soviet Collapse (Part 1)

Estimates of the number of Jews living in contemporary Ukraine vary from 100,000 to 200,000. All observers believe that the Jewish population is in rapid demographic decline. It is likely to decrease even further in coming years due to a low birthrate, intermarriage and assimilation, and a lack of attractive gateways into Jewish life. Read More »

Anti-Semitism in the Post-Soviet States

Any review of anti-Semitism in the post-Soviet states must focus on Russia and Ukraine, the only two former Soviet republics with substantial Jewish populations. Perhaps 350,000 to 450,000 Jews remain in Russia today, concentrated in Moscow (150,000 to 200,000) and St. Petersburg (80,000 to 100,000). It is unlikely that more than 10,000 Jews live in any other Russian city.
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Jewish Life in Ukraine at the Dawn of the Twenty-First Century: Part Two

Local Jewish volunteer leadership in Ukraine is most likely to emerge in the federated community organizations established and nurtured by a small number of community rabbis, such as Rabbi Kaminezki in Dnipropetrovsk (Philanthropic Fund of the Dnipropetrovsk Jewish Community) or Rabbi Bleich in Kyiv (Kyiv Municipal Jewish Community), who endorse multiple Jewish community institutions. (Rabbi Vishedski of Donetsk supports a similar effort.) Read More »

Jewish Life in Ukraine at the Dawn of the Twenty-First Century: Part One

Ukraine is a country in transition between a Soviet past and an uncertain future. Since declaring independence in 1991 at the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine has provided cause for both hope and despair. Read More »

The Role of Politics in Contemporary Russian Antisemitism

In recent months, since shortly after the collapse of the Russian ruble in August 1998, an upsurge of antisemitism in Russia has generated a startling increase in emigration of Russian Jewry. Among Jews in Israel and many diaspora countries, concern has grown about the fate of those Jews remaining in Russia, the largest of the post-Soviet states. Read More »

The Jews of Moldova, 1998

One of the 15 post-Soviet successor states, Moldova occupies the greater part of the territory known historically from the seventeenth century onward as Bessarabia. It is bounded on the north and northeast by Ukraine, on the southeast by the Black Sea, and on the south and west by Romania. Read More »

The Jews of Moldova, 1998

After Russia, the contemporary situation of Jews in Moldovia, Jewish Education, and prospects for Aliyah. Read More »