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May 17, 2013     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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May 17, 2013

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PAGE 14A f o HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MAY 17, 2013 By Carlo Wolff (Cleveland Jewish News) Hennes Paynter Communica- tions, a firm co-owned by a Jewish resident of Cleveland, has been tapped to handle public relations for the victims Qf the Cleveland kidnappings that have become a global news sensation. Amanda Berry, Gina De Je- sus and Michelle Knight on May 6 broke free of Ariel Castro's house after nine to 11 years of captivity. Bruce Hennes, a Cleveland Heights resident who is Jew- ish, is co-owner of the Hennes .Paynter Communications company with Barbara Payn- ter. On ay 10, Jones Day, the Cleveland law firm handling the women's cases, asked Hennes Paynter whether it would take care of public relations for the now-famous victims of the Cleveland kid- nappings. Hennes said May 13 he was surprised to get the call and honored to do the job. "The strategy right now is to give the women time and to preserve the integrity of the court case," said Hennes, a former president of the Cleveland Jewish News Board of Directors. "Right now, there is no other strategy," he said. "That's why :the women are not speaking publicly. At this point, our only role is to com- pile a list of media people who are interested in interviewing them. We're getting whatever requests there might be and aggregating all of those. At the appropriate time, the women will make their own decisior s about whom they want to talk and when." Hennes said he has not spoken to the v~omen, adding "our main contact is through the law firm." Hennes's firm has been fielding requests from all over the world, he said, citing all the domestic networks, including Spanish- language channel Telemundo, as well as Radio Australia and "everybody in between." "We're on lockdown," he said. "It's very important that nothing be said that will jeopardize the ongoing inves- tigation and the prosecution of Mr. Castro. "We were floored to get the call, and when we were asked to do this pro bone, the answer was, immediately, of course. We're honored to be able to help them. I can't even begin to imagine what they went through." As for the media, "they're looking for the'get' rightnow" as far as the Cleveland kid- nappings story goes, Hennes said. "There's a worldwide scramble. They want the picture, the interview. This is the hottest news." Castro, 52, was arraigned on charges or rape and kid- napping on May 9. Bond was set at $8 million. Cuyahoga County prosecutors allege he beat and sexually assaulted all three women. They also say Castro is the father of Berry's 6-year-old daughter. Berry, 27, and De Jesus, 23, reunited with their families after brief hospital stay , according to various news accounts. Knight's where, abouts is cloudy, however. According to a story in the May 12 Christian Science Monitor, Knight, 32, didn't even tell her mother where she was going when she left the hospital where she was treated the night of May 10. Editor's note: This story was originally published by the Cleveland Jewish News, www., . and is distributed with the permission of that newspaper. By Alina Dain Sharon are sparse Since the Boston Marathon explosions inApril, the largely Muslim Russian territory of the North Caucasus has come back to the forefront via Chechnya, where the fam- ily of the Boston bombers' father originated, and nearby Dagestan, the native land of the bombers' mother. Flashbacks to the wars of the 1990S between Russia and Chechen separatists, and alerts of Islamic insurgency spilling out of Chechnya, appear more prominently in news outlets. Just a couple Wikimedia Commons of weeks ago, a bomb ex- Russian Federal Security Service employees during a special operation in Makhachkala, DageMan, during with one ter. ploded and killed two teen- rorist was killed and two terrorist attacks were prevented. Dagestan is situated in the Russian.controlled north Caucus, agers in Dagestan's capital, where the Boston Marathon bombers have roots, and where the few remaining Jews say they live in relative calm despite Makhachkala. Less is heard North Caucasus insurgency. about'the region's Jewish c()mmunity, which, although number of Jews in Chechnya, family and the community, themselves stuck in a volatile invasion of Georgia, an inde- dwindling, continuestomain- andtheJDCisnotawareofanY butwhich nonetheless is not area. Two major wars took pendentcountryfarthersouth tainrelative calmwhileliving Jews who live there, a custom we normally as- place between the Russian in the Caucasus, JDC rescued in a violent region--or so its Today's Jewish community sociate with Jews anywhere," government and Chechnya 19 Jews from the region. The members say. in the northern Caucasus is a Matloff said. during the 1990s and early son of an Auschwitz survivor, Although many Jews from mix of Ashkenazi Jews, who The Russian Federation's 2000s after the region de- Dritterbelievesthat"reaching theformerSovietUnion(FSU) migrated there from Europe- Northern Caucasus region clared independence from every Jewin every corner is a emigrated in the 1990s-- anRussia, andMountainJews, includes five predominantly Russia in1991. Russian forces mission." The only protection many to Israel--between who have lived there for many Muslim Republics, includ- completely destroyed the that you have is "to keep your 60,000 and 68,000 Jews still centuries and have their own ingbordering Chechnya and Chechen capital of Grozny profile low, no guns, no noth- live in Russian-controlled language called Tat, ablendof Dagestan on the east of the in 2000. ing," he told north Caucasus i, egion, ac- Farsi and Hebrew. Mountain Caucasus mountains. The Chechnya is now subject Shimi Dibyayev, an elderly cording to estimates by the Jews were renowned over the MountainJews'distance from to the federal jurisdiction of. chairmanoftheMachachkala American Jewish Joint Dis- centuries "for their prowess theUSSR'scenterhelpedthem Russia and is headed by the Jewish community, told Mat- tribution Committee (JDC). -with weapons and horses, maintain their traditions pro-Kremlin leader, Ramzan loff in an article published by The Jewish community in not very common attributes when the regime repressed Kadyrov. Islamist rebel vie- the Forward that relations Machachkala estimates that for Jews in the former Soviet religious worship, but"many lencefrequentlyspillsoutinto between Jews and Muslims in there are just under 5,000 Union," Matloff told have left for mainly economic neighboring autonomies like Dagestan "are fine." Jews remaining in Dagestan, They were also known for cul- reasons--unemployment Dagestan. In 2004, Islamist "Governmentministersare accordingtojournalistJudith tivatingtobaccoandwine, and is massive," and "some are Chechenterroriststookanen- friendly to us. We've been here Matloff, who has traveled to "menstillsometimes'k!dnap' disturbed by the violence as tire school hostage in Beslan, so long, we're part of the local the region. There are no con-- brides,"acustomusuallydone well," Matioff said. North Ossetia. More than 300 culture," Dibyayev said. creteestimatesforthecurrent with "tacit approval by the Those who remain find peoplewere killed, including Nevertheless, Dibyayevsaid many children, he does "always carry a pistol Chechen terrorism has and(has)sevenmoreweapons , reached as far as Moscow. In at home." Back in 2007, the. 2002,Chechenterroriststook windows of his synagogue in 850 hostages inMoscow's Du- Machachkala were smashed, brovkaTheater, 130 of whom though no one knows by eventually died as Russian whom. forces pumped a chemical Jewish musician Rafoi agentintothebuiidingtoforce Rafailov, originally from an end to the siege. In 2010, Chechnya, described what e Chechen terrorists exploded a he believes to be a close bond A 9 bombinsideaMoscowsubway, between Jews and Muslim (El) killing nearly 40 people. Chechens in aninterviewwith Given the violence, moving Rafailov, a folkmusi- Temple Israel is searching for a c, n, Congregational Life Coordinator. ,e,, dangerous, to extremely NationalArtistoftheChechen , dangerous," said Shauli Drit- Republic. Now in his 70s, he ter, directoroffieldoperations moved to Pyategorsk in 1993, This position requires up to 32 hour/week to support religious for the JDC in the FSU. The acitybeyondNorthOssetia, in school operations underthe supervision and direction of the Head JDC cares for Jews in 187 StavropolKrai, aregiononthe of School (Rabbi) and to coordinate special events and general sites throughout the entire frontline between Russia and Caucasus region through the North Caucasus republics. operations of the congregation under supervision of the President. theirChesedWelfareCenters, When Chechens were ex- A detailed job description and application information can beand is expanding its Metsuda pelled from the North Caucus found on the TI website at or by calling the TI office young leadership develop- by Joseph Stalin, in 1944, the ment program to the area. Soviet government told those at(407) 647-3055. During the 2008 Russian who were left in the area that hey could take over the deserted homes of Chechens. The Boston Bombers' father's family had been deported to Kyrgyzstan from Chechnya during this time. But Jewish residents, who knew persecu- tion and did not want to bring harm to others, did not touch the homes, Rafailov said. After Stalin's death, many Chechens returned to their native land. Aslambek Paskache , a civic chamber member of Kadyrov's current government, recount- ed the same story in January after he visited the site of an upcoming new synagogue in Grozny. The synagogue will be built despite the few Jews left in Chechnya "These people knew what it was to be persecuted, and they knew that Chechens would come back," Paskachev said, according to the Civic Cham- ber of the Russian Federation. Rafailov was present for the January 2013 groundbreaking ceremony fornew synagogue, built on the site of a 19th- century Ashkenazi synagogue that became a music school in 1937. Israeli Beitar Jerusalem soccer players attended the founding of the new syna- gogue despite warnings by the Israeli National Security Council not to visit the region. Two Muslim Chechen players joined the Israeli team later that month, While in Dagestan, Matloff was detained for questioning 1By the anti-terrorist unit there. "They seemed to be" greatly reassuredwhen I men- tioned that I really wanted to be released quickly so I could go to Friday synagogue," she said. "Being Jewish apparently made me seem innocuous and a curiosity. A Jew, in their thinking, would not be aligned to a radical jihadist movement." Such stories suggest that Jews remaining in the north Caucus region are not a per- secuted minority. Yet frequent violence and the Russian gov- ernment's propensity for polit- ical repression still loom over the area. Rafailov--whose ancestors arrived in Chechnya in the 19th .cenl ury--hopes that "in 10 years some Jews will come, and in 15 years more will come." But as things stand today, Rafailov said he "went back [to Chechnya], looked and recognized only two women" from the Jewish community that he knew.