MOSCOW (JTA) — Hundreds of Moscow Jews attending High Holy Day services last week at the Chorale Synagogue got a surprise: live greetings from a member of Russian President Boris Yeltsin's administration.
"The Jewish community of Russia is making a considerable contribution to the development of Russia's economy and culture," the chairman of Yeltsin's Commission on Citizenship, Abdullah Mikitayev, told them.
"Jews, Muslims and Christians all are represented by the government and play a role in the democratic process."
His short speech from the bimah marked the first time that a member of the Yeltsin administration has publicly addressed the Jewish community at a religious event and may be a sign that the Jewish community of Russia is gaining more recognition from the government.
But in an election year, Mikitayev's remarks were not seen as entirely apolitical. The presidential envoy, is the chairman of the Inter-Ethnic Union, a minority bloc seeking seats in the parliamentary elections set for December.
Mikitayev was not alone in using the High Holy Days to address Russia's Jewish community. Russia's Prime Minister, Viktor Chernomyrdin, who chairs the government's Our House is Russia party, is also courting the minority vote.
Anti-Semitic attacks rising in Germany
BONN (JTA) — In a further sign of increasing anti-Semitic incidents in Germany, three Jewish sites were targeted by vandals during the past week.
On Tuesday, a Jewish cemetery near Bonn was reportedly desecrated by vandals who turned over 10 tombstones.
The desecration took place on the same day that a monument commemorating the deportation of Jews at the Anhalt train station in Berlin was badly vandalized. It was the third case of vandalism to take place at the train station memorial in a week.
Five of the 16 sculptures that depicted deported Jews were totally destroyed as a result of the vandalism.
In another incident, Nazi slogans were smeared at the entrance to the cemetery in the town of Fuerstenwalde in the state of Brandenburg in eastern Germany. A swastika was sprayed on a memorial plaque inside the cemetery. No arrests were reported.
The number of anti-Semitic offenses registered by the German security authorities has more than doubled during the past year, from 656 in 1993 to 1,366 in 1994.
7 Bosnian Jewish dead memorialized
ROME (JTA) — As the possibility of peace arose once again in the former Yugoslavia, seven Jewish victims from war-torn Bosnia were memorialized with a ceremony and tombstone unveiling at the Jewish cemetery in the Croatian coastal city of Split.
After escaping from Bosnia, the seven refugees died while they were living in emergency refugee housing run by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee in Makarska near Split.
Ranko Jajcanin, a young man from the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo who is studying for the rabbinate in Israel, led last week's ceremony, which was held under the auspices of the Hebrew Free Burial Association.
About 50 people attended the unveiling, including members of the Split Jewish community and Bosnian refugees now living in Makarska.
For family and friends, the ceremony provided a rare occasion to say Kaddish and to participate in a religious memorial service.
Rome remembers its Jewish mayor
ROME (JTA) — Rome Mayor Francesco Rutelli last week marked the 150th anniversary of the birth of Ernesto Nathan, a London-born Jew who served as the mayor of Rome before World War I.
"He is a model who is extremely difficult to emulate, but an unforgettable and extremely great mayor," Rutelli told an Oct. 5 news conference.
"His experience still has great meaning today: his extraordinary pragmatism and seriousness."
Rutelli announced that a conference on Nathan would be held in December to explore his identity as a Jew, a Mason and a follower of Italian patriot Giuseppe Mazzini, a leading proponent of liberal, democratic reforms and a vocal advocate of the secular state.
Nathan was born in London to an Italian German Jewish family but settled in Rome in 1871 as the director of Mazzini's newspaper La Roma del Popolo. He served as the mayor of Rome from 1907 to 1913.
German newspaper says reporter a Nazi
BERLIN (JTA) — A German newspaper has charged that a journalist here actually was a Nazi official responsible for killing Jews in an area of Ukraine.
According to an article in the daily TAZ, Peter Grubbe, a progressive German journalist is actually Claus Volkmann, a Nazi official involved in the extermination of the Jewish population in Kolomea, now the Ukraine.
In a three-page piece — with the headline "There are two lives before death" — reporter Philipp Mausshardt details the story of what he says is the double life of the journalist.
Volkmann, as Nazi regional commander in the Kolomea-Galicia area, was responsible for the death of Kolomea's remaining 30,000 Jews, TAZ charged.