Greek Orthodox Leader Hangs On
The leadership drama that has engulfed the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America remained unresolved this week as the church's embattled head returned home--still in charge--after meetings in Istanbul with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Orthodox Christianity's leading international figure.
Before the meetings, Greek and Greek American newspapers were filled with reports of Archbishop Spyridon's imminent ouster. Late last week, when Spyridon unexpectedly was called to the Phanar--Bartholomew's headquarters--speculation increased that he would be removed from office by the ecumenical patriarch and his Holy Synod, or council of metropolitans (bishops).
Instead, the visit ended Tuesday with a statement by Spyridon's office that he would return to the Phanar in August for further discussions. Bartholomew's office issued its own statement, saying only that the meetings were held and that "the ecumenical patriarch shall definitively assess all that has been presented until now as well as all the stated viewpoints."
Bartholomew appointed Spyridon in 1996 to lead the 1.5-million member Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. But for most of his tenure, Spyridon has been besieged by controversy over his management style, financial decisions and attitude toward lay and clerical participation in the church's decision-making process.
The archdiocese's five metropolitans, more than 100 priests and a dissident lay movement have called for his removal.
A growing number of parishes have voted not to contribute money to the New York-based archdiocese while Spyridon remains in power.
More Jews Leaving Russia for Israel
Jewish emigration from Russia to Israel, fed by rising antisemitism and a deteriorating Russian economy, jumped 129 percent during the first six months of 1999, according to an organization that assists in the resettlement process.
During the period, about 12,188 Russian Jews went to Israel, according to the Jewish Agency, a quasi-governmental group.
Sallai Meridor, agency chairman, said that as many as 30,000 Russian Jews could settle in Israel during 1999, compared with 14,000 last year.
Should that occur, it would be the most since 1992. Migration to Israel from all republics of the former Soviet Union, including Russia, could total 60,000 this year, Meridor said Wednesday.
While Meridor declined to link the jump in emigration to increased incidents of antisemitism in Russia, recent arrivals in Israel have cited the incidents as a prime reason for moving.
This week, a prominent Jewish leader in Moscow was repeatedly stabbed in his office in the city's Choral Synagogue by a 20-year-old neo-Nazi, according to authorities. The victim, Leopold Kaimovsky, business manager of the Moscow Jewish Arts Center, suffered wounds to the face, stomach, chest and shoulder.
The attack was the latest in a series of incidents, including bombings of synagogues and comments by hard-line nationalist and Communist members of the Russian parliament.
Meridor said "concern for the future" is the reason most often cited by Russian Jews for going to Israel. "There seems to be a general feeling of the loss of hope," he said.