Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Iranian Jews visit Russia

CJP: Russian Jewish organizers of a trip for 15 Iranian Jewish women in Russia say they hope the trip will launch contacts between the two communities."We have not had any contacts with Iranian Jews," said Adolph Shayevich, one of Russia's two chief rabbis. "We have heard various rumors lately, that there is no Jewish community in Iran, that things are bad for Jews there. We are happy to see it for ourselves that this isn't the whole truth."The group is a 15-member women's amateur folk dance group that came to Moscow last week to take part in the Light a Candle Jewish children's arts festival.The trip was a rare group visit abroad by Iranian Jews, who live in an Islamic community virulently opposed to the State of Israel -- and they visited Russia, where Jews lived under tight restrictions until the fall of Communism.The Iranians -- aged 14 to 30 -- came to Russia thanks to diplomatic efforts by Arkady Gaidamak, a Russian Jewish leader and businessman, and with a special permit from the Iranian authorities......The main problem the community has, she said, was lack of rabbis and teachers of Judaism.There are no yeshivot, or fervently religious schools, in Iran, and only one ordained rabbi is serving the Tehran community that maintains 16 active synagogues.A Moscow Jewish leader said the Russian community should take advantage of Moscow's good relations with Tehran to benefit Iran's Jews."Maybe we can invite a group of Iranian Jewish boys to study in a Moscow yeshiva," said Pinchas Goldschmidt, Moscow's chief rabbi......
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