Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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4 Teves 5762 - December 19, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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CER Protests Destruction of R' Yisroel's Grave and Increasing Russian Antisemitism
by Yated Ne'eman Staff

The grave and tombstone of the Gaon Reb Yisroel Salanter, founder of the Mussar movement in yeshivas, was totally destroyed by vandals. Daubings of "Death to the Jews" and swastikas were painted around the area. A wall commemorating the holocaust was also destroyed and the gate surrounding the cemetery was pulled down.

The municipality of Kaliningrad returned the cemetery to the Jewish community more than two years ago. It took almost two years to locate the exact site of Reb Yisroel Salanter's grave, due to the terrible condition of the entire area.

Only four months ago a group of 250 rabbis from all over the world dedicated the newly-renovated site, which had been cleared and renovated at the initiative of the descendants of Reb Yisrael. It was envisaged that visitors from all over the world would be able to visit the cemetery to pay homage to this great Torah leader of the mussar movement.

The Secretary General of the Conference of European Rabbis (CER), Cllr Aba Dunner, in a letter to Mayor Savenko of Kaliningrad and to the Russian Ambassador in London Mr. G. Karasin, expressed the outrage of the CER and the entire Jewish community at this lowly, antisemitic act. Cllr Dunner demanded that action be taken to apprehend the perpetrators and that steps be taken to protect the area and other Jewish installations in the future.

The letter read, in part, "As the Pan European organisation responsible for communities throughout the region we write to you to express our serious concern at the rise of anti- Semitic incidents that have recently occurred in Russia.

"The latest of these is the destruction of the newly erected tombstone on the grave of the revered and saintly Rabbi Y Salanter in Kaliningrad. Only a few months ago a delegation of some two hundred Rabbis travelled to Kaliningrad in order to consecrate this site with the participation of many local civic dignitaries.

"Other incidents include the defacing with anti-Semitic daubing of the synagogue in Kostroma and on the new community centre in Tomsk. There are regular acts of violence against members of the Jewish community throughout Russia.

"We did meet in London some two years ago with your Minister of Human Rights in order to discuss this problem and were assured that steps were being taken to stop these incidents occurring. We feel however that not enough is being done by the authorities to both discourage and apprehend those that carry out these acts.

"We ask you therefore to please convey to your government in the strongest terms our deep concern and protest. We request detailed assurances from your government as to what steps it intends to take in order to ensure that these incidents will cease to occur in the future."

It is not clear if the incidents are connected with the intensifying of Moslem antisemitism or have their source elsewhere. Whatever the source, the recent rise is cause for concern.


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