«Jewish Observer»
July 2002
5762 Av

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It is nice to witness an increasing number of critical publications in decent Jewish newspapers of late. God bless; the times of unanimous "we-are-for'ism" have sunk into oblivion. Non-professionals have taken to writing: engineers, teachers, doctors - a decent Jewish intelligentsia, in a word. They vent their pain and offenses, frustrated dreams and unrealized demands on the pages of our newspapers. This is good, this is great. This testifies to the fact the community attracts new people who just yesterday could only be seen at a concert or during a holiday. Fresh members, they better notice our drawbacks and mistakes taking everything positive for granted.

I have many times read and heard Reb Bleich "hasn't brought something', Levitas "hasn't obtained", Zisels "hasn't organized", Rabinovich "hasn't funded", Filvarov "hasn't taken into consideration", Nakhmanovich "hasn't worded", and Kuperberg has done, said and written something proper, in the spirit of Jewish tradition, but he'd better keep silence because he is a defender, advocate (Markisa Lihtman, "Let me contradict", "JO"#12(31). One may get an impression that Jewish leaders are uneducated failures who have come to manage communities straight from kindergartens or masseur courses and should be driven away right now. We live in a free world. And such an outside point of view has the right to existence.

In effect, an overwhelming majority of leaders of the Jewish community in Ukraine are people with serious general and Jewish education, profound life experience. They all realized themselves in a regular life and reached definite extraordinary success. Everybody has his own year-long opinions of the Jewish life and ways of community development. These views may be different, sometimes even opposite but never accidental.

I do not undertake to defend Jewish leaders though they need it in the recent time. I will not defend myself, too. Since I am neither a defender nor an advocate, neither professional nor amateur. I am an ombudsman of the community. Ombudsman is an unusual English word from a parliamentary lexicon often causing incomprehension. By the dictionary definition - this is a person who passes independent decisions on conflicts between community members and officials. I do this in compliance with a Jewish law - without procurators and lawyers, to my own discretion, as my conscience, my life experience and Jewish education prompt me. All this enabled me to be a Chairman of Beit Din Tsedek (Highest court of justice) of Vaad of USSR during three years. I try to do everything for those people whose complaints and claims I do not satisfy or do not support to clearly understand my position. I respect the right of all Jews to pronounce to my address, but I cannot agree I myself should and can be deprived of this right. I very seldom write for newspapers, usually on problems I am much concerned about. I intend to do this in future, too.

I shall be very glad if a biggest possible number of Jews take part in the coming election of ruling bodies of Kiev city Jewish community scheduled for Chanukah. Let their votes become a strict and impartial estimate of our Jewish leaders, me including.


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