Oct 20, 2011 1:26 pm


Today is Simchat Torah.  This year  Gilad Shalit Comes Home with Tears of Joy Mixed With Bitter Tears of Sorrow. What else is new? you'd rightly ask.  The Jewish state has paid an exorbitant price to reaffirm the Jewish maxim that all of Israel are responsible for each other and Jews world over are going to dance with the Torah with more joyfully and committedly than usual.  They understand instinctively that this sense of mutual responsibility carries the key to Jewish survival.  When one part of the Jewish world falters, the other is there to pick up the slack.   This aspect of Jewish history has long been celebrated.  Less celebrated is the role the rejuvenated slacker plays in strengthening the tiring hands of those who helped them.   Time and again the enthusiasm of the Jews rediscovering their religion serves as an adrenaline shot to the jaded comfortable communities.  This has been the case of the Spanish/Portuguese survivors in the Netherlands.  This had been the case of the Holocaust survivors in Israel and America and this is the case with the post Soviet Jewry today.  Let us not forget, Simchat Torah the holiday used by Soviet Jews to demonstrate their willingness to pay any price for the privilege of remaining a Jew. 

Today Steven Schwager, the CEO of the Joint American Committee, is happy to note, there is A Miraculous Post-Soviet Religious Revival:

In almost 200 Jewish Community Centers, music, art, dance and more lead to creative expressions of identity. As Moscow suffered from soaring temperatures and nearby forest fires two summers ago, young Jews at the local JCC—who inherited a society that eschewed modern philanthropy—led an unprecedented Facebook campaign to deliver food, fans and comforting words to the community's poor and elderly.

In the public square, 200 Jewish libraries containing more than a million Jewish books complement the Jewish Studies courses at more than 100 universities in the post-Soviet region. In 16 Hillel centers, meanwhile, thousands of Jewish students are embracing their identity and wearing it publicly. Such pride was evident when Vladimir Goodkov, the Jewish winner of the popular Ukrainian Stars Factory program (a version of American Idol), had his friends from his Jewish youth group in Kharkov celebrate Shabbat dinner with him and his co-contestants on Ukrainian National TV.

When asked who inspired his decision to choose a televised Jewish meal over a concert in Cannes or his own CD release, he said: "The way I am now—enthusiastic, not afraid to say anything—is thanks to the people, the community that I became part of."

Amazing.  But just as amazing is the contribution this hundreds of thousands of post Soviet Jews are quietly making to Israel and the rest of world Jewry.  Then, note the more strategic initiative two successful Jewish Ukrainian businessmen to fight media anti-Jewish bias by creating the First Ever International Jewish News Network Ready for Broadcast

"Jewish News 1" will broadcast news from Israel and the world 24/7. The network has already set up studios in Tel Aviv, Brussels and Kiev, and additional studios will be opened in Washington, Paris and London in the coming months.

The network has 12 correspondents, all foreigners, who are currently deployed in six countries. The casting of reporters to cover the news in Israel, Europe and Russia will be completed in the coming days.

The network will begin its broadcasts in English, but its managers seek to offer news in seven additional languages, including Hebrew, French, Italian, Russian and German. . . .

"We are first and foremost a Jewish channel, which offers news about Jews and about issues that interest Jews," says the editor-in-chief. "A large part of the reports will focus on Israel."

The channel's owners are businessmen Igor Kolomoisky and Vadim Rabinovich, the president and vice president of the European Jewish Union. So far, they have invested $5 million in its foundation.

The wheel has certainly turned.  The saved have become saviors and as long as the pattern lasts, so will Judaism and the Jewish people.


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