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January 26, 2018

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PAGE 8A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JANUARY 26, 2018 By Penny Schwartz literary paper at the Moscow International Conference on (JTA)--When Maxim Combating Anti-Semitism Shrayer traveled to Moscow organized by the Russian for a five-day visit at the end Jewish Congress, the World of October 2016, his itinerary Jewish Congress and the city included a trip to the Jewish of Moscow. MuseumandToleranceCenter. But the next day, on the Shrayer, who emigrated advice of his longtime friend, from Russia to the U.S. with the prominent filmmaker his refusenik activist parents Oleg Dorman, who still lives 30 years ago, is an acclaimed in Moscow, Shrayer returned scholar of Jewish-Russian to the museum. This time he literature and culture as well took a tram. as an award-winning writer As the No. 19 tram ap- on theJewish-Russianemigre proached the stop for the experience, museum, which opened in He took a cab to the mu- 2012, a pre-recorded voice seum, where he delivered a announced the stop as the Lou Aaron Tauber, son of Michelle and Chris Tau- ber of Longwood, will be called to the Torah as a bar mitzvah on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018, at Congregation Ohev Shalom in Maitland. Lou is in the seventh grade at Rock Lake Middle School, where he is a member of the band. His hobbies and interests also include playing tuba and basketball, and volunteer- ing at Village on the Green. Sharing in the family's simcha will be Lou's brothers, Frank and Vic; sister, Tillie; grandparents Wen@ and Martin Derrow of Winter Park, Linda Tauber of Estes Park, Colorado, and Wayne Tauber of St. Paul, Minn.; as well as aunts, uncles, great-aunts, great-uncles and cousins from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wyoming, Colorado, Minnesota and Florida. Palace of Culture of MIIT, Museum and Tolerance Center. As Dorman had warned him, the word "Jewish" was left out of the museum's name. The mystifying omission was unsettling. Was the word Jewish dropped deliberately? Was it a linguistic nuance, Shrayer wondered, or did it have larger and more worri- some meaning? Shrayer discusses the mys- tery-along with the history of the No. 19 tram and the evolution of the Jewish neigh- borhood it passes through--in an early chapter of "With or Without You: The Prospect for Jews in Today's Russia." Shrayer's book adds to his reputation as a go-to scholar and commentator on Jewish- Russian life and culture. In November, Shrayer, a professor of Russian, English and Jewish Studies at Boston College, where he co-founded the university's Jewish studies center, was named director of the new Project on Russian and Eurasian Jewry at Harvard University's Davis Center, in partnership with the Genesis Foundation. Until now, Shrayer has shied away from probing one question that for him has been ever-present: Why do Jews stay in Russia? Had the time come to write an elegy for Russian Jewry? For Shrayer, even contem- plating the question has been a source of emotional conflict. He used the trip to the Moscow conference as a jump- ing-off point for a kind of fact-finding mission, probing the subject in a series of inter- Shalom Memorial Chapel Prou i l Servin Our Comrnunit Por Over Years views with Jewish friends, new acquaintances and leaders of Russia's Jewish community. The result is a slim, engag- ing and elegant read that goes beneath the surface to reveal a multi-layered portrait of Jewish life in Russia today. Those he interviewed include Berel Lazar, who the government recognizes as the chief rabbi of Russia;Anna Bokshitskaya, a journalist and executive director of the Russian Jewish Congress; and even a couple of (non-Jewish) Russian expat clowns now living in the U.S. who entertain their Russian audienceswith Jewish-inflected shtick. On a recent afternoon, Shrayer sat down with JTA at a favorite cafe in this suburb near Boston, home to a large Jewish population, where he lives with his American-born wife, Karen Lasser, a physi- cian, and their two school- age daughters, Mira and Tatiana. Shrayer's parents, David Shrayer-Petrov and Emilia Shrayer, both literary lights in Russian literature, live nearby. Parents and son have collaborated on several books, including the most re- cent, "Dinner With Stalin," a collection of stories by David Shrayer-Petrov. "With or Without You" is a departure from decades of Shrayer's previous writing on the Jewish presence in Russia, much of it traversing the 19th and 20th centuries. They were stories of the past, he said. "The mantra for me had always been, I was writing about the past, the Jews' Rus- sian and Soviet past, because in a sense, I have moved on. I did not feel that the story of Jews who remained in Russia was my story," Shrayer said, adding that he was "always puzzled why these Jews who were still there had stayed." Shrayer's working method involved Mira, the older of his daughters, who was 10 when she accompanied him on the trip. She is a constant pres- ence, both a witness and an addressee through the book, he suggested. As they walked together around the city, Shrayer described what it was like for him growing up and what it was like for Jews during the Soviet period. The result is part historical and cultural investigation, and Visitors to the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center in Moscow viewing one of the many sculptures depicting the history of Jewish life in Russia, May 21, 2013. part memoir and travelogue, he said. Shrayer said the responses of those he interviewed formed three groups: Jewswho identify religiously and are committed to the continuity of Jewish religious and communal life; others who stay for personal circumstances, such as elderly parents, being in a mixed mar- riage or a lucrative business; and those who may leave but not because they are Jews, but "because the situation in the country is increasingly politi- cally suffocating." In the book's chapter on anti-Semitism, Shrayer re- ports the recent findings of the public opinion study con- ducted by the Levada Center, the county will look like in 50 years. "Jewish faces and Jewish names are starting to van- ish from the Russian main- stream--from literature, the arts and the entertainment industry, but also from the achievement rolls of science, medicine and the humanities," he writes. Has Shrayer overcome his sense of divide with Jews who stay in Russia? As a result of his research, he is both more emotionally connected, but also, paradoxically, more dis- connected. "There's a feeling of not quite mourning but certainly a feeling of deep sadness. It's coming from a place that is a Russian nongovernment somewhere deep inside,' he research organization, that reflec{ed. ;i found attitudes toward Jews in It brings Shrayer backto the Russia have improved dramati- Jewish Museum and Tolerance cally over the years and that Center, whose galleries and overtly negative views about exhibits shed light on the story Jews are at an all-time low. of Jews in Russia. Nonetheless, the study "It's a great museum," he found, there are reasons to be said. But inpart, it'samuseum " cautious, particularly on the of those who stayed, for those views within certain groups, who stayed and for their coun- "There wasn't a person who trymen.Amongthe museum's dismissed it," Shrayer said. At exhibits, picturedon the jacket the same time, it is not the ofhisbook, are life-size plaster most pressing issue for many casts of Jews in period garb all of the people he interviewed, as white as ghosts. he observed. Shrayer learned recently The numbers are telling, thattheaudiorecordingonthe he said. There are now about No. 19tram, aswellasthesign 170,000 Jews in Russia, ac- onitsstop, have been changed cording to Mark Tolts, a and riders now hear and see Hebrew University demog- the full name of the museum. rapher. That's a tenth of the He's not claiming it's his do- community's size in 1989, ing--thatwould be extremely as counted in the last Soviet chutzpahdik, Shrayer said. census. Combinedwith an ag- Nonetheless, he added, the ing population, low birth rate correction suggests to him and increased immigration to that the story of Russia's Jews Israel, Shrayer wonders what resists closure. Sherman, the overweight hedgehog, sits in his cage at the Ramat Gan Safari Zoo. JERUSALEM (JTA)--Sher- pounds, double the average man the overweight hedge- weight ofanormalhedgehog, hog, who was put on a diet at when he was taken in by the a zoo in Israel, has lost about Ramat Gan Safari outside of one-tenth of his body weight. Tel Aviv in November. The Sherman weighed 3.5 SafariannouncedWednesday that Sherman has lost 0.33 pounds. Sherman is one of 10 hedgehogs that were found waddling through the streets in Israel. They had eaten so much, mostly cat food left on the streets for strays by softhearted Israelis, that they had problems curling into balls to defend themselves against predators. All of the hedgehogs were put on food and exercise regi- mens, with plans to get them trim enough to release by the summer. They were fed cat food, but in smaller doses, and their diets were supplemented with fruits and vegetables, The Jerusalem Post reported Wednesday. And the food was placed far from the animals, forcing them to walk to their meals.