The Roots of Today's Revival of Russian Judaism Lie Deep in the Soviet Past

Seven decades of persevering, clandestine, hazardous activity devoted to the material and spiritual succor of Jews.

March 23, 2017 | Dovid Margolin
About the author: Dovid Margolin is a senior editor at, where he writes on Jewish life around the world, with a particular interest in Russian Jewish history.
This is a response to The Prospect for Russia's Jews, originally published in Mosaic in March 2017

A man at a synagogue in the Russian city of Pyatigorsk. Anton PodgaikoTASS via Getty Images.
I read with great interest Maxim Shrayer’s elegantly composed “The Prospect for Russia’s Jews.” Striking an especially strong chord with me were his memories of growing up as the child of refuseniks in the Soviet Union, since my parents, too, were refuseniks. (Our family finally won permission to leave in 1985.) Elsewhere in his essay, however, Shrayer exhibits a dismaying lack of familiarity with important historical aspects of the Russian Jewish scene, a constraint that colors his analysis of the situation today.

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