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December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review August 13, 2013/ 7 Elul, 5773

Ah, Russia!

By Paul Greenberg




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The news out of Russia never seems to be new. The names change, not the essence. Nor does the reaction of Russia-watchers: a deep, hopeless, wordless sigh. As if to say: What's to be said? Ah, Russia!

Like its seasons, Russia's prospects go from drab to drabber, interrupted only by brief periods of false hope. Russia veers from despotism to autocracy and back again, but no further. Glasnost and Perestroika, openness and reconstruction, are proclaimed from time to time, but they always end the same way: in repression.

This tragedy is restaged again and again. The cast may be different, but the script stays the same. And the ending is never a happy one. The only question, as with Russia's weather, is which will be more crushing -- the freeze or the thaw.

The more Russia changes, the more it stays Russia, more's the pity. Tsar becomes commissar, but what difference does it make? The official name of the secret police changes: Okhrana, Cheka, OGPU, NKVD, KGB, FSB . . . but the police state remains.

It's as if the Russian Revolution had become stuck in just one phase of the French Revolution, that model for all modern revolutions: the Reign of Terror. The terror might wax and wane, but it never goes away.

Ah, Russia! Ah, family stories. Russians white and red, czarist and Bolshevik, swept through my mother's little village in Poland -- her shtetl -- during the First World War, which went on years longer in Poland than on the Western front. She would awake every morning not knowing which troops had arrived like a swarm of locusts the night before -- Russians of one bloody persuasion or another, correct German regulars or roaming freebooters (Freikorps), Cossacks, sometimes even Poles. They washed over the village of Mordt like muddy waters.


Her father, my grandfather, had died during the war. Her eldest brother, Avrom, disappeared in the postwar war after formal hostilities had ceased. Half a century later, safe in America, she couldn't believe it when she heard that the Russians had launched a spacecraft and were headed for the moon. ("What? They couldn't even find their way around Mordt!") The only tsar she ever really knew was His Imperial Majesty Chaos.

By the time my mother made it to America, a 19-year-old girl traveling alone in steerage, she would be illiterate in three languages, knowing just enough German, Russian and Polish to help her survive. And she would step off the boat hungry to learn this strange, unphonetic language called English. Years later I would bring my little blue speller home from school every day so we could learn the words together. She was still studying.)

She would also be a fanatical scrimper, saver and mender who never ceased working, if only on the sweater or quilt she was knitting at the time. My mother would spend the rest of her life looking over her shoulder, fearful that somebody would come along any minute and take all this away from her, this dreamland called America.

Her English remained imperfect, her native Yiddish sharp, and her silence most eloquent of all. The look of wordless contempt she would fix on anyone who dared criticize America in her presence could fill volumes. For who knows America who knows only America?

Her youngest son, American-born, would one day read about the chaos and confusion that reigned after our own Civil War, and how bands of assorted marauders or just opportunists with an eye out for the main chance, Confederate deserters or Yankee carpetbaggers, would roam the Southern countryside, picking over the ruins. It all seemed strangely familiar to him. From family stories about the old country. Different countries, different histories, same human condition.

Russia veers from one tsar or commissar to another, with the occasional brief democratic leader -- like Kerensky -- fated for exile. At best. It's all enough to make any Russia-watcher give up on Russia except . . . except for one factor -- Russians. Time and again, like the wandering holy man in Russian tradition, the staretz, a prophet materializes out of the wilderness, or even out of the power structure, and begins to speak out. And the people listen.

Whether a Solzhenitsyn or Sakharov, a Slavophile or Westernizer, poet or nuclear scientist, the voice out of the wilderness captures the attention not just of Russians, but of the world. It's a recurrent pattern that goes back to Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy. Nobody elects or appoints these seers; they just appear. As if out of the Russian soul.

It was Solzhenitsyn who said a writer is a kind of second government. Only with more authority than the first, maybe because it is moral authority. Martin Luther King never held public office, nor did Mohandas K. Gandhi. Any more than the prophets of ancient Israel did. Yet they were heard. And still are. Oppression is the health of faith.

The latest voice out of the Russian wilderness is a mod dissenter uncowed by the threats he faces from those in political power. A tweeting prophet in shirtsleeves, he towers above his persecutors -- natural, direct, unafraid. His name is Alexei Navalny, and this is what he told the court that would convict him of the usual trumped-up charges:

"If somebody thinks that having heard the threat of this six-year imprisonment I would run away abroad or hide somewhere, they are badly mistaken. I cannot run away from myself. I have no other option and I don't want to do anything else. Not one of us has the right to be neutral. Not one of us has the right to shirk from doing what's necessary to make our world better. Each time someone thinks, 'Why don't I step aside and simply everything will happen without me and I'll wait?' he only helps this disgusting feudal regime that sits like a spider in the Kremlin."

Within a day after his conviction, Alexei Navalny was unexpectedly released. For now he's free to resume his campaign for mayor of Moscow. This tsar had blinked.

Yes, it's tempting to give up on Russia -- but then Russians like Alexei Navalny keep appearing despite everything. Or maybe because of it.

What is Russia's future? Its past. The only thing for sure is that it will remain . . . Russia. And that more great literature is about to emerge from its heart and soul.

Paul Greenberg Archives

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Send your comments by clicking here.

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