Jews in ex-USSR get a major Koret grant

Led by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, the Aleph Society has become one of the most prominent Jewish educational institutions in the former Soviet Union. Thus far, it has concentrated mainly on aiding Jews in the big cities, but now it is making a concerted effort to reach those in the more isolated areas.

Jews living in Siberia and what is called the Far East, are considered "orphaned" because of their distance from established Jewish institutions.

"There are at least 30 orphaned communities in this area, each containing 1,000 to 10,000 Jews that will benefit from the institute's outreach," Edwards said.

The foundation gave a grant of $50,000 to the Aleph Society to help in this area.

The funding for the Jewish Community Center in Kharkov was given through a grant of $100,000 to the JDC.

The JDC has helped to open JCCs throughout the former Soviet Union. The JCCs, unlike those in the United States, are often a room or two in another building.

Edwards said that while Chabad has established outposts throughout the former Soviet Union, there are few opportunities for Jews to come into contact with non-Orthodox streams of Judaism.

"These organizations do a lot of work in revitalizing the community," said Edwards. "There are many Jews who are never going to leave that are becoming connected."

After the United States and Israel, Edwards noted, the Jewish community of the former Soviet Union is the third largest in the world. Slowly "bringing it back to some semblance of the great Jewish community it's been in the past, we think, is an important thing to work on," she said.

In another related development, the Koret Foundation also awarded a grant of $25,000 to fund the Bay Area Council for Jewish Rescue and Renewal, which aids ex-Soviet Jews.

— Alexandra J. Wall