The Shmooze

Russian Jews (Finally) Get Their Own Museum

By Nathan Burstein

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They’ve largely disappeared as residents, but Russia’s Jews now have their own museum.

Billed as the first Jewish museum in the country, the Moscow center opened recently following several years of planning. Exhibits are divided between two general themes, focusing on either Jewish practice or on Jewish history in Russia.

Radio Free Europe reports that many of the display items were purchased at auctions overseas, then returned to Russia for the museum. The oldest items are from the 1700s, and museum officials received assistance from Israeli academics in creating the museum’s first shows.

The opening follows the dedication of a similar museum in Poland’s capital in 2007, but apparently without similar official fanfare.

Radio Free Europe reports that Russia’s Jewish population has plunged from an estimated 5.19 million in 1897 — roughly 4 percent of the population — to about 265,000, or 0.16 percent.


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