Bookshelf of old copies of J. Previous names of this publication have included Emanu-El and Jewish Bulletin. (Photo/David A.M. Wilensky)
Previous names of this publication have included Emanu-El and The Jewish Bulletin. (Photo/David A.M. Wilensky)

This week in history: renouncing Soviet citizenship (1969), “What Y2K means for Jews” (1999)

Jan. 3, 1969

Jewish Student in Moscow Flaunts Russ Citizenship

A young Jewish engineering student at the University of Moscow has written an unusual letter to the Supreme Soviet assailing anti-Semitic policies, renouncing his citizenship and proclaiming himself an Israeli.

The Washington Post reported here that Yakov U. Kazakov wrote to the highest Soviet Government organ, “I do not want to participate with you in an extermination of the Jewish nation in the USSR.” He also said, “I do not wish to be a citizen of a country that conducts a policy of genocide toward the Jewish people.” Stating that as a Jew he considers Israel his homeland, Kazakov declared, “I demand to be freed from the humiliation of being considered a citizen of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.”

Jan. 1, 1999

What Y2K means for Jews

The clock ticks to 12 a.m. next Jan. 1. It is the year 2000.

Computers fail because of a programming glitch, tossing much of the technology-dependent world in a state of chaos.

To add to the confusion, some religious groups fear either a catastrophe of biblical proportions or a widespread spiritual panic as Christians mark the 2,000the anniversary of Jesus’ birth.

For Jews, it will be another important day: New Year’s Eve 2000 falls on Shabbat.

Rabbi Stephen Pearce laughs at predictions the Messiah will show up and conduct the world’s biggest New Year’s Eve bash, saying “no one in the Jewish community gives credence to those [millennial] apocalyptic beliefs.”

But he — along with several other local rabbis — perceives the confluence of Y2K and Shabbat as a prime time to address the Jewish approach to cataclysmic events.

They certainly are not panicked about “making reservations to mark the end of the world,” Pearce noted.

“I’m more worried that Jews will think nothing of skipping a Shabbat service.”