A Jew Joins a Yiddish Class in De-Judaized Poland

Visiting the Polish city of Białystok, Thaïs Miller found herself sitting in on a Yiddish class. “I had attended many Yiddish classes before,” she writes, “but not one in my grandmother’s hometown and not one in which I was the only Jewish person in the room, including the instructors.” Miller listened to the students explain why they were taking the class, and helped them with the alphabet. After some intense translating, the instructor switched to a lighter activity:

The teaching assistant brought in a large box of chocolate cupcakes, each of which was decorated with a Yiddish letter printed on top in chocolate. The class had been full of conversation, but now everyone sat in complete silence, eating their aleph-beys cupcakes.

Toward the end of the lesson, [the instructor] explained, in Polish, the significance of every person receiving one Yiddish letter. “There was once a Jewish ritual in which the entire community participated in the writing of letters on a new Torah scroll.”

He then turned to me. “Have you ever heard about this practice?”

“Avade.” Of course, I said to him in Yiddish. And I added in English, “I’ve done it.” Mikołaj looked at me in incomprehension. . . . After the class, I messaged a friend about it. He said, “I imagine it’s a bit like a class in hieroglyphics, with you being the only pharaoh in the room.”

Read more at Jewish Review of Books

More about: Poland, Polish Jewry, Yiddish

Iran’s Program of Subversion and Propaganda in the Caucasus

In the past week, Iranian proxies and clients have attacked Israel from the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, and Yemen. Iran also has substantial military assets in Iraq and Syria—countries over which it exercises a great deal of control—which could launch significant attacks on Israel as well. Tehran, in addition, has stretched its influence northward into both Azerbaijan and Armenia. While Israel has diplomatic relations with both of these rival nations, its relationship with Baku is closer and involves significant military and security collaboration, some of which is directed against Iran. Alexander Grinberg writes:

Iran exploits ethnic and religious factors in both Armenia and Azerbaijan to further its interests. . . . In Armenia, Iran attempts to tarnish the legitimacy of the elected government and exploit the church’s nationalist position and tensions between it and the Armenian government; in Azerbaijan, the Iranian regime employs outright terrorist methods similar to its support for terrorist proxies in the Middle East [in order to] undermine the regime.

Huseyniyyun (Islamic Resistance Movement of Azerbaijan) is a terrorist militia made up of ethnic Azeris and designed to fight against Azerbaijan. It was established by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps . . . in the image of other pro-Iranian militias. . . . Currently, Huseyniyyun is not actively engaged in terrorist activities as Iran prefers more subtle methods of subversion. The organization serves as a mouthpiece of the Iranian regime on various Telegram channels in the Azeri language. The main impact of Huseyniyyun is that it helps spread Iranian propaganda in Azerbaijan.

The Iranian regime fears the end of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan because this would limit its options for disruption. Iranian outlets are replete with anti-Semitic paranoia against Azerbaijan, accusing the country of awarding its territory to Zionists and NATO. . . . Likewise, it is noteworthy that Armenian nationalists reiterate hideous anti-Semitic tropes that are identical to those spouted by the Iranians and Palestinians. Moreover, leading Iranian analysts have no qualms about openly praising [sympathetic] Armenian clergy together with terrorist Iran-funded Azeri movements for working toward Iranian goals.

Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: Azerbaijan, Iran, Israeli Security