Crimean Jews’ Medieval Cemetery

March 22 2023

When Russia became the home of the world’s largest Jewish population near the end of the 18th century, the overwhelming majority of these Jews lived in Polish territories recently acquired by the tsars. They were predominantly descendants of Jews from Germany and elsewhere in Europe. But in 1783 St. Petersburg also conquered the former Ottoman province of Crimea, which had its own Turkic-speaking Jewish population dating back at least to the 14th century, and perhaps to antiquity. Matti Friedman tells the story of a gravestone found in the medieval Jewish cemetery of Tmutarakan—one of the oldest extant Crimean Jewish artifacts. (Video, 9 minutes.)

Read more at Beit Avi Chai

More about: Archaeology, Crimea, Jewish cemeteries, Russian Jewry


In the Aftermath of a Deadly Attack, President Sisi Should Visit Israel

On June 3, an Egyptian policeman crossed the border into Israel and killed three soldiers. Jonathan Schanzer and Natalie Ecanow urge President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to respond by visiting the Jewish state as a show of goodwill:

Such a dramatic gesture is not without precedent: in 1997, a Jordanian soldier opened fire on a group of Israeli schoolgirls visiting the “Isle of Peace,” a parcel of farmland previously under Israeli jurisdiction that Jordan leased back to Israel as part of the Oslo peace process. In a remarkable display of humanity, King Hussein of Jordan, who had only three years earlier signed a peace agreement with Israel, traveled to the Jewish state to mourn with the families of the seven girls who died in the massacre.

That massacre unfolded as a diplomatic cold front descended on Jerusalem and Amman. . . . Yet a week later, Hussein flipped the script. “I feel as if I have lost a child of my own,” Hussein lamented. He told the parents of one of the victims that the tragedy “affects us all as members of one family.”

While security cooperation [between Cairo and Jerusalem] remains strong, the bilateral relationship is still rather frosty outside the military domain. True normalization between the two nations is elusive. A survey in 2021 found that only 8 percent of Egyptians support “business or sports contacts” with Israel. With a visit to Israel, Sisi can move beyond the cold pragmatism that largely defines Egyptian-Israeli relations and recast himself as a world figure ready to embrace his diplomatic partners as human beings. At a personal level, the Egyptian leader can win international acclaim for such a move rather than criticism for his country’s poor human-rights record.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: General Sisi, Israeli Security, Jordan