СRootsТ, #1

January-June 1994


The лRoots╗ magazine #1 opens with two addresses to readers. The letter from the editors tells about the back-ground of the idea of city Jewish lecture clubs, their place in the life of modern Jewish city communities, the goals of the new magazine and its contents.

The author of the other address, Mr. Yitzchak Averbuch, who represented the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee in the region of Central Russia in 1994, emphasizes the important role played by the lecture clubs in the implementation of the лHaskala laТam Ч Enlightenment for the People╗ program in the framework of which the clubs are themselves becoming national and cultural centers of their communities. Y. Averbuch defines the future readership of the magazine: all those who are not indifferent to Jewish life in city communities.

The section УArticles. ResearchesФа contains papers of authors from Volgograd, Saratov and Nizhny Novgorod. In his article лJews in World Culture╗ Prof. Solomon Krapivensky deals with the contribution of the Jews to the worldТs culture and civilization. Two different approaches to the problem are analyzed: the personified and the essential one. Jewish culture is considered as a specific activity in a context of interaction with other cultures. The author gives his explanation to the лriddle╗ of the intellect of GodТs chosen people and its spiritual contribution to the world history. According to Krapivensky, the peculiar character of the Western civilization lies in the belief in social progress, the cult of scientific rational cognition, the acknowledgment of the active role of the human being Ч and all these components have Judaism as their source. The closing part of KrapivenskyТs essay is devoted to Jewish influence on world art (exemplified by Western and Russian painting).

The article лPolicy of Discrimination towards Jews in Tsarist Russia╗ is based upon rich documentary material from some archives of the Russian Empire of the XVIII to XX centuries. Prof. Valery Ustinov displays in detail all the aspects of the discrimination using some works of Russian and Jewish historians as well.

Assistant Prof. Irene Gutkina analyzes a highly difficult and contradictory subject Ч to what extent does the cultural assimilation of Jews in the Russian civilization correspond to their mentality? She cites Mark ZakharovТs and Aleksandr GelmanТs opinions and examines a real case of religious assimilation. The second part of the article deals with the trend of a return to Jewish roots (the 1980s and 1990s), which is defined as re-assimilation. The causes of this process are explained in her article лProblem of Assimilation and Re-assimilation of Russian Jewry╗.

Eugeny GarberТs, a psychologist from Saratov, theoretical research paper is entitled лJewish Psychology. Scientological Substantiation of the Concept╗. For the first time in the history of science the author makes an attempt to single out the psychological components of Judaism. The article substantiates the possibility and the expediency of different approaches to the study of Jewish psychology.

The section УThe History of our DaysФ includes two reviews. In the first of them Mr. Yitzchak Averbuch (лJoint╗) describes the basic activity guidelines of лJoint╗ in Central Russia and Volga Region. They include sending rabbis from Israel, rendering assistance to family celebrations of the Bar-Mitzvah, Shabbat and Passover, educational work (the Public University for Jewish Culture, Sunday schools, kindergartens, various seminars), cultural activities (newspapers, libraries, musical groups), establishing community centers and help in restitution of Jewish property.

The magazine starts publishing a cycle of reviews лOn the National Life of the Jewish Communities of Central Russia and Volga Region╗. The first to appear is лJewish Organizations of Kazan╗ by Eugenia Davidova. A brief historical excursion is followed byа information about the Jewish organizations set up after 1989 and their activists, a chronicle of the main cultural and organizational events of these years and a history of the city synagogue.

лOur Genealogy╗. The authors of this section base their accounts of the origins of Jewish communities, their formation and development up to the present on the study of numerous documents from local archives and the recollections of eye-witnesses: лJews in Saratov╗ by Prof. Daniel Drankin, лOn the History of the Jewish Community of Samara╗ by Natalya Bass, лEssay on the History of the Jewish Community of Penza╗ by Prof. Vitaly Levin, лHistory of the Penza Synagogue╗ by Abraham Pekny.ааааааааа

The section лArchives╗ is based upon authentic archive documents. The first issue of the magazine publishes 15 unique documents concerning the history of the Jewish prayer-house in Oryol (the publication by Boris Zilbert). The documents published include: a brief essay on the life andа development of the Jewish community in Oryol; a description of the ceremony of laying the foundation stone of the synagogue (1909) and speeches made at the ceremony by the chairman of the economic board, the public rabbi and other persons; a financial account of the building of the synagogue; a report of the parishionersТ auditing commission (1912). The section also contains the 1993 correspondence between the municipal authorities and the cityТs Jewish community on restitution of the synagogue building requisitioned by the state in the 1930s.

The section лChronicles╗ informs the readerа in detail about the activities of city Jewish lecture clubs in Saratov, Samara, Volgograd, Astrakhan, Penza, Ivanovo, Yaroslavl, Nizhny Novgorod, Voronezh and Bryansk from December 1993 to June 1994. The data include the lecturersТ names, the topics of the lectures, some interesting details of the club meetings and the number of participants. New forms of Jewish education were worked out and realized in Saratov in June: the лMishpaha╗ program (mini-clubs uniting several Jewish families for co-celebration ofа traditional holidays and discussions on family education) and the лWeekend╗ program (revival of Jewish mentality through free communication of parents and children on weekends).

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