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OUR MISSION

We are an educational and charitable interfaith organization of Russian-speaking Americans. We aim to develop the organizing power of our community, its successful integration in American civil society, advance immigrant rights, civic participation, and leadership development. We raise public awareness of our community and the achievements of its members and promote collaboration with other communities in the pursuit of a more just and fair society with equal opportunities for all.

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  RCCMB has a 501(c)(3) tax- exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service. Your tax-deductible gift to us supports our events and activities, strengthens progressive voices in the Russian-American community, and helps advance its integration into the fabric of American civil society. We will gratefully acknowledge your contribution that you can make by regular mail or online -

via PayPal:

or via NYCharities.org:

Amount: $

Our mailing address:

244 Fifth Avenue, Suite 200, New York NY 10001.


VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES

     If  you are interested in volunteering for us, have some knowledge of Russian community as well as general immigrant affairs, and/or fundraising experience, please write about yourself and your interests to rccmb@rccmb.org.

ENGLISH   РУССКИЙ
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OUR NEWS & UPDATES

2014

Dear friend,

The Boards of Directors of Russian-Speaking Community Council of Manhattan & the Bronx (RCCMB) and American Russian-Speaking Association for Civil & Human Rights (ARA) - our local and nationwide volunteer organizations - send you and your loved ones our season's greetings and wish you a peaceful, prosperous year 2015!


Thank you to all those who helped us organize and hold important events throughout 2014, raising awareness of our city's diversity and our people's contributions, advancing our community's interests, and sending our message of solidarity with human and civil rights defenders in our native country. With your support, in this past year, we were able to:

  - Open our part-time pro bono immigration attorney office in NYC, to serve the growing number of asylum seekers and other immigrants from Russia and post-Soviet Eurasia who face significant barriers to obtaining these services from other sources;

  - Hold community forums with NYC's Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Nisha Agarwal, as well as representatives of The Department for the Aging, Department of Youth and Community Development, Human Resources Administration, and NYC Human Rights Commission, that helped advance our mutual understanding and awareness;

  - Continue RCCMB's pursuit of the language access equality for Russian-speaking voters in New York, with our testimony to the Campaign Finance Board's Voters Assistance Advisory Committee;

  - Get RCCMB cleared for our first contract with NYC's Department of Youth and Community Development, thanks to discretionary awards from our Councilmembers Ydanis Rodriguez and Mark Levine;

  - Deepen our unique collaboration with the Black community and other minorities in our joint struggle for a more equitable immigrant integration in NYC;

  - Organize and host a joint community forum at Columbia University with ARA's French counterpart, Association Russie-Libertes, as well as a joint Ukrainian-Russian antiwar forum, also at Columbia University; 

  - Organize and co-organize, on behalf of ARA, the first-ever joint Russian-Ukrainian diaspora rallies on September 21 that brought together over 1,000 people in six US cities(New York, Washington, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Houston) in protest against the Russian government's military interference in Ukraine and in defense of peace between these two countries; 

   - Launch the first-ever Russian-speaking Diaspora Justice Award that ARA and RCCMB co-founded jointly with The Andrei Sakharov Foundation, General Petro Grigorenko Foundation, Lodyjensky Immigration Archive Center of Russian and Ukrainian Culture, The Pushkin Society of America, as well as distinguished community leaders - Reverend Michael Aksionov Meerson (of The Orthodox Church of Christ the Savior in New York City), Rabbi Leonid Feldman (of Temple Beth El in West Palm Beach, FL), Boris Tenzer (talk show host at RTN-WMNB), and Tatiana Yankelevich (Harvard University associate).

    Please support our work with your donation before the end of 2014.  Your contribution to us is tax-deductible.  You can donate to either organization by sending a check to our address at 244 Fifth Avenue, Suite 200, New York NY 10001 or via PayPal on RCCMB website. RCCMB is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) and a fiscal sponsor for our national association. 

   We are committed to continuing to advance the task of Russian-American immigrant integration through education and mutual awareness, by organizing locally and nationally to amplify our collective voice in public affairs and to be able to support changes to the better in our native country when they inevitably begin.

   Wishing you happiness and joy from the bottom of our hearts,

                           

On Nov. 24, RCCMB's Dmitri Glinski discussed the TBI-RCCMB/Black-Russian collaboration on immigrant diversity and the demographic change in the Russian-speaking community on BK Live, in his appearance with Bertha Lewis on the occasion of the launch of their "All Races, All Faces: A Guide to NYC's Immigrant Communities":

http://bkindiemedia.bricartsmedia.org/bklive/bk-live-112414-all-races-all-faces-book/

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    The leadership of RCCMB, including most of its Board members, as well as most of the Board members and leadership of the national American Russian-Speaking Association for Civil & Human Rights (from all five NYC boroughs and from upstate New York) joined The Black Institute on November 18 for the launch of Dmitri Glinski's and TBI's "All Races, All Faces: A Guide to NYC's Immigrant Communities," at 32BJ union headquarters. Speakers at the event included Bertha Lewis, Dmitri Glinski, NY State Senator Jeffrey Klein, NY State Senator Diane Savino, Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj, Joy-Ann Reid of MSNBC, and other distinguished public figures. The launch was also attended by Councilmember Mathieu Eugene, Commissioner of Consumer Affairs Julie Menin, Director of Outreach and Community Engagement at the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs Alejandro Alvarez, and other government officials. The book, which is the third product of collaboration between RCCMB and TBI, is available for free from The Black Institute (39 Broadway, Suite 1740, New York NY 10006).

                

                   Bertha Lewis opens the event                                                          NY State Senator Jeffrey Klein                                                        Dmitri Glinski                             

       

                     NY State Senator Diane Savino                                   Dmitri Glinski & Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj           Joy-Ann Reid & RCCMB Press Officer Natalya Petroff

     

         1st row, right to left: ARA Board Member, journalist & author Leonid Zaslavsky;               1st row, right to left: Lidiya Petrova (RCCMB); Dr. Natalya Petroff (RCCMB);          RCCMB Board Member and President of the Pushkin Society Dr. Victoriya Kurchenko;                               Dr. Alexander Yegudin (RCCMB Board Secretary);                           ARA Board Member, artist Irene Nedelay; RCCMB Bronx Coordinator Lyubov Barzman                                          Victor Levin (RCCMB Board Chair)

                        Photos 1-3 and 7-8 by Sylvia Ryabichev; photos 4-5 by Tammy Meadows

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 Dmitri Glinski's "All Races, All Faces: A Guide to New York City's Immigrant Communities" has been published by The Black Institute (TBI), with preface by TBI Founder & President Bertha Lewis, and printed by United Federation of Teachers.  The book captures the diversity of the city's immigrant population by providing information on the 49 largest immigrant communities. This is the third collaborative project of RCCMB and TBI, following the dialogue on immigration at CUNY (April 2013) and "All Races, All Faces" forum at Union Theological on the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.,'s involvement with Soviet Jewish struggle (Nov. 2013).

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On Nov. 1, Pavementpieces.com wrote about our advocacy for equal language access rights for Russian-speakers in New York City's elections: "Dmitri Glinski, president of the Russian-Speaking Community Council of Manhattan & the Bronx, testified in August in front of the New York City Campaign Finance Board’s Voter Assistance Advisory Committee. He asked the board to apply the provisions envisioned in the 2012 bill and described the language barrier as “the biggest challenge to Russian speakers’ voter participation.”  The article's discussion of legislative issues is largely based on our testimony here.

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RCCMB's community forum of immigrants from former Soviet Union countries with NYC government agencies, Oct. 23, 2014

co-chaired by Dmitri Glinski, for the Russian community, and Lyuba Murzhenko, for the Ukrainian community

Left to right: Lyuba Murzhenko; Oscar Asencio (NYC Human Rights Commission); Dmitri Glinski; Jermaine Williams (Human Resources Administration); Israel Rosario (Mayor's Office for Immigrant Affairs); Kathleen Almanzar (Department of Youth and Community Development)

Front row, on the left: Vladimir Gutkin, chair of the Manhattan/Queens branch of American Association of World War II Veterans From Former Soviet Union

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On Oct. 8, jointly with The Black Institute, we took part in the hearings on the proposed rules regarding the issuance of New York City Municipal IDs. 

On the photo: RCCMB's Dmitri Glinski with NYC Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Nisha Agarwal.

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STATEMENT ON THE ASSAULT UPON LEONARD PETLAKH

October 8, 2014

We are shocked and outraged at the violence perpetrated by anti-Israel protesters last night at Barclay's Center against Russian-Jewish nonprofit leader, Kings Bay Y Executive Director Leonard Petlakh. This is a double hate crime - against an immigrant community leader and a Jew. We may agree or disagree with each other on any issue, but anti-Jewish violence in NYC cannot be tolerated. This has nothing to do with one's opinions on, or relationship to Israel, which individual Jews may or may not have. This should be a priority concern to government at all levels, as well as all our civil rights leaders, in every community. Our thoughts and prayers are with Leonard and his children, who were also exposed to the attack.

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Please read about Russian-Ukrainian Peace Rallies of September 21, that brought close to 1,000 immigrants from former Soviet Union countries into the streets of 6 US cities, on the website of our national partner, www.amrusrights.org.

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First-ever co-naming of a location in New York City in honor of a Russian immigrant in the 200+ years of our community history!  Thank you Councilmember Koslowitz, City Council, and Mayor De Blasio!

       

                    

            

Councilmember Karen Koslowitz speaking                                     State Senator Toby Stavisky speaking          Alex Rubin, the initiator of the campaign        

             RCCMB's Dmitri Glinski speaking                            RCCMB with Ms. Elena Dovlatova                                              Sergei Dovlatov Way sign

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     On August 5, 2014, RCCMB's Dmitri Daniel Glinski testified on the issues of Russian-American voter participation and engagement at the invitation of NYC Campaign Finance Board's Voter Assistance Advisory Committee.  His testimony is available here --->

                                                                             

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     On May 29, the Russian-speaking immigrant community of Manhattan and the Bronx gave a warm welcome to the recently appointed NYC Immigrant Affairs Commissioner, Nisha Agarwal, on her historic, first-ever visit by an Immigrant Affairs Commissioner to this community.  Manhattan is the only one of the five boroughs where in recent years the numbers of immigrants from former Soviet countries have been growing; it is the fifth largest linguistic minority in the borough and the third-largest in the city and the state (over 200,000 people by official Census count and many more by community estimates). 

     Commissioner Agarwal attended and spoke at a special event on advancing Russian-speaking immigrant integration in the city. This was the first public forum held by the two-year-old Russian-Speaking Community Council of Manhattan & the Bronx (RCCMB) in the building on Academy Street where it recently opened its first-ever office, thanks to a local school and city authorities.  RCCMB is a grassroots, interfaith, immigrant-founded and –led nonprofit that has been active on the progressive flank of the city’s Russian community.  It is a member of The New York Immigration Coalition, has taken part in the campaign for comprehensive immigration reform, and recently opened the very first bilingual legal consultation specifically for Russian-speakers, led by an experienced Russia-born and US-educated attorney.  

     The Commissioner listened to presentations by two community leaders who discussed the history and the challenges facing immigrants from former Soviet countries living in the area.  Leah Geskin who ran the Russian department at “The Y” (YM&YWHA of Washington Heights and Inwood) for 17 years until its closing in 2006 but has remained highly popular in the community she served presented the story of immigration in the area and the work of her department.  Its services ran the gamut from employment assistance to driving classes, and their phasing out, along with the shutting down of Russian programs at The Bronx House, was a loss for the entire community.  Ms.Geskin expressed the hope that RCCMB will be able to raise funds to restart at least some of the services that her department provided.

     RCCMB Founder and President Dmitri Daniel Glinski outlined the key integration challenges that our community is facing: lack of employment, especially for high-skilled immigrant professionals, including those with American degrees, and particularly in the world of nonprofits and public affairs; lack of support by those foundations that support organizing and advocacy by other immigrant nonprofits, with the resulting absence of any functioning community organizations with paid staff, in spite of decades of fundraising efforts by skilled and experienced community leaders; lack of representation on the staff of government agencies and elected officials in the areas of Russian-speakers’ residence, in spite of a petition on this subject that was submitted to elected officials last year; and the elimination of Russian departments and budgets in those Jewish organizations where they existed.  He expressed his hope that the new city government, with its agenda of reducing inequality, was bringing a “spring of change” and a “spring of justice” to disadvantaged immigrant communities that will help address the challenges they are facing.

     In her remarks, Commissioner Agarwal – no stranger to the struggle against injustice, being an offspring of a distinguished family of Mahatmah Gandhi supporters in India and a prominent public interest lawyer – discussed her plans to help make NYC government more immigrant-friendly.  In response to a question by the chair of the local branch of the American Association of WWII Veterans from former Soviet Union Vladimir Gutkin about the non-implementation of the state law requiring the Board of Election to translate election materials into Russian, Commissioner Agarwal agreed that some of the immigrant-friendly laws are poorly implemented, and encouraged the audience to provide her office with evidence of such violations, so that further action can be taken. 

      The meeting was also addressed by Charise Lawrence, Director of Community Outreach at the Department for the Aging.  Ms.Lawrence provided a helpful overview of DFTA services and distributed some of its Russian-language publications.  Yet another prominent participant in the event was President of The Black Institute (TBI) Bertha Lewis.  TBI and RCCMB have been collaborating on a range of issues, from immigration reform (where both see the preservation of diversity visas as beneficial for their respective communities) to educational events on the Black-Jewish collaboration around the Soviet Jewry struggle in the 1960s-80s.  Commissioner Agarwal and Bertha Lewis were presented with awards in recognition of their distinguished public record and support for the aspirations of immigrants from former Soviet Union countries.

         

         

                                                                                                               

                                                                                    NYC Department for the Aging Community Outreach Director Charise Lawrence speaking.

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On the occasion of the Russian and Ukrainian national holiday - the Day of Victory over Nazism - RCCMB teamed up with Russian Bookstore 21 in midtown Manhattan to donate books of Russian wartime/postwar authors to World War II veterans from countries of the former Soviet Union and their families.

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On April 18, RCCMB President Dmitri Glinski met with NYC Commissioner for Immigrant Affairs Nisha Agarwal to discuss the issues and concerns of Russian-speaking immigrant community in Northern Manhattan and the Bronx and collaboration with MOIA.

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RCCMB and our entire community mourn the passing of Dr. Jacob (Yaakov) Birnbaum (1926-2014), z'l, a selfless hero of the American movement for the freedom of emigration and religion in the USSR, founder and leader of Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry (April 1964) and of the Center for Russian Jewry.  Not only all those Jews who have been able to left the former Soviet Union and those who remain there, but also all other ethnic and religious minorities in former Soviet Union countries owe whatever freedoms they have gained over the past 25 years to Jacob Birnbaum's tireless advocacy and prophetic fire. Since our beginning in 2011, Dr. Birnbaum was RCCMB's close friend and trusted advisor on many issues.  We express our heartfelt condolences to his widow and another exceptional friend and supporter of our community, Freda Bluestone Birnbaum. 

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    Photos from the opening of our part-time midtown office and pro bono immigration consultation (the only such service currently offered by a nonprofit created and led by immigrants from former Soviet Union countries in Manhattan), held on April 9 with participation of a representative of New York City Mayor's Office for Immigrant Affairs.

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Dear friends, 

We are proud to announce the upcoming opening of two first-ever office locations of Russian-Speaking Community Council of Manhattan and the Bronx and American Russian-Speaking Association for Civil and Human Rights – in uptown and midtown Manhattan. In these locations, both of which are still temporary, RCCMB will begin providing direct services, starting with pro bono consultations with our fully bilingual immigration attorney and assistance with obtaining US citizenship (at this stage, on a part-time basis). 

We are pleased to invite you to the opening of one of these two locations

and the launch of our immigration services:

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 9, AT 5-30 PM 

174 FIFTH AVENUE, 2ND FLOOR (Russian Bookstore 21)

Presentation by Elizaveta (Lisa) EISENBERG, J.D., Esq., member of American Immigration Lawyers Association

“Political Asylum and Other Immigration Topics of Importance to Immigrants From FSU Countries”

After the talk, those interested will be able to sign up for a consultation appointment free of charge.

We look forward to seeing you on this exceptional occasion.

As space is limited, please RSVP at rccmb@rccmb.org or by phone at 212-726-2082. 

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On March 7, we opened our first (so far, part-time) office - and the first Russian-speaking immigrant community meeting space - in Northern Manhattan.  We are open every Thursday evening and are looking forward to seeing you.  Please kindly let us know via rccmb@rccmb.org or 212-726-2082 if you are planning to visit. 

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On March 5, we took part in the annual Immigrant Day of Action in Albany, advocating for the interests and needs of our community with our state officials. Our representatives met with State Senator Adriano Espaillat and other government officials.

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Feb. 25, 2014 - We mourn the tragic loss of lives in recent days of revolution in Ukraine where many of us or our relatives were born. We congratulate the Ukrainian people on the successful end to confrontation and violence, and wish peace, speedy rebuilding of people's lives and the economy, and real international assistance to the recovery of this great country. 

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On February 16, 2014, we held an event on the past and present of the Russian-American community in Northern Manhattan,   an evening of recollections and storytelling

in memory of Klara Kuchment (1918-2014),

founder and President of Self-Help Association of American-Russian Elderly (SHAARE),

dedicated volunteer, a champion of Israel, tireless fundraiser for people in need,

longtime resident and community leader of Northern Manhattan, grand-niece of Meir Dizengoff, the first Mayor of Tel-Aviv. Speakers at the event included: Dmitri Daniel Glinski, RCCMB President; Sylvia Riabichev, daughter of Klara Kuchment, and a poet; Andrew Gross, Political Advisor to the Deputy Consul General of Israel; Rabbi Israel (Igor) Balsim; Vladimir Gutkin, chief of the Manhattan branch of American Association of World War II Veterans from Former Soviet Union; Sasson Akbashev, Cantor, Jewish Center of Kings Highway; Ilya Levkov, Director of Liberty Publishing House; and Anna Malkina, singer and Klara’s associate.

We invite you to visit our online exhibit of Klara's memorabilia.

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HAPPY MLK DAY! 

On this occasion, we invite you to visit our special page on our joint conference of November 2013, with The Black Institute and other organizations, on the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s, first actions and statements in support of civil rights of Jews in Soviet Union and his role in the birth of the movement for the freedom of emigration from the USSR and of the present-day Russian-American community.

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2013 

WE ARE BACK IN THE BRONX!

On Monday. Dec. 9, RCCMB held a joint event

with CUNY's Lehman College Department of Languages and Literatures and Center for Human Rights and Peace Studies,

as well as American Russian-Speaking Association for Civil & Human Rights, our nationwide organization

on the occasion of the International Human Rights Day

Screening of the film "Five Minutes of Freedom", by Kirill and Ksenia Sakharnov,

with discussion on the human rights movement in Russia and its impact on immigration to the US

Moderated by Prof. Robert Whittaker

Speakers: Andrew P. Grigorenko, President, General Petro Grigorenko Foundation; and Dmitri Glinski, President of RCCMB

The event was dedicated to the memory of Russian poet and civil and human rights fighter Natalia Gorbanevskaya (1936-2013)

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 We were proud to co-host a forum on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s role in the birth of the Soviet Jewry movement and on today's struggle for immigration reform with The Black Institute (the primary organizer of the event) and other partner organizations, on Nov. 25, 2013, at Union Theological Seminary.  This was the third annual event initiated by our team since 2011 on the history of the struggle for the freedom of emigration from Soviet Union.

Dmitri Glinski speaking about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s advocacy for the civil rights of Jews in Soviet Union

From left to right: Glenn Richter (one of the leaders of Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry); Dr. William Jelani Cobb (Professor at University of Connecticut); Dr. Dmitri Daniel Glinski; Jerry Goodman (founding Executive Director, National Conference of Soviet Jewry); Rep. Charles B. Rangel 

RCCMB thanks Congressman Rangel for his support for civil and human rights causes in Soviet Union and Russia since 1975 

You can listen to the recording of the forum proceedings here.

 Glenn Richter

Dr. William Jelani Cobb 

Jerry Goodman 

Harry Belafonte 

Bertha Lewis (President of the Black Institute), Harry Belafonte, Stuart Appelbaum (President of Jewish Labor Committee)

 

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RCCMB meeting with NY State Senator Adriano Espaillat at the YM&YWHA of Washington Heights and Inwood.  Nov. 14, 2013. Photo by Elizabeth Lorris Ritter.

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On Nov. 14, RCCMB took part in The New York Immigration Coalition forum at the Talking Transition series of events in downtown Manhattan in connection with the first mayoral transition in New York in 12 years.  RCCMB President Dmitri Glinski spoke about the need for immigration advocates and community organizers to be in decision-making roles on immigrant-related issues in the new administration; about implementing locally the integration provisions of the Senate immigration reform bill, including New Immigrant Councils; and on the issue of translation of the Board of Elections documents into Russian

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Advocating for Russian-American WWII vets on Veterans' Day: RCCMB President Dmitri Glinski with Assemblyman Herman D. Farrell and head of the Manhattan branch of American Association of World War II Veterans from the Former Soviet Union. Nov. 11, 2013.

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A day of advocacy for Russian-American seniors: RCCMB President Dmitri Glinski with NYC Commissioner of the Department for the Aging Lilliam Barrios-Paoli and RCCMB advisor Dr. Olga Lyubavina.  Nov. 7, 2013

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Our event at Columbia University, Harriman Institute, honoring Russia's Day of Remembrance of Victims of Political Persecution. RCCMB Vice President Lovey Murzhenko speaking, next to General Petro Grigorenko Foundation President Andrew Grigorenko; next to him, Pavel Litvinov, Soviet-era political prisoner and Andrei Sakharov Foundation Board Member. Oct. 30, 2013

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On Oct. 15, RCCMB President Dmitri Glinski took part in the Center for an Urban Future forum, "The New Face of New York Seniors," with NYC Commissioner of the Department for the Aging Lilliam Barrios-Paoli; Dr. Ruth Finkelstein, Senior Vice-President for Policy & Planning, New York Academy of Medicine, and Director of Age-friendly New York City; Queens Community House Executive Director Irma E. Rodriguez; and Korean American Community Foundation Kyung B. Yoon; moderated by Center for an Urban Future Executive Director Jonathan Bowles. 

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RCCMB, American Russian-Speaking Association for Civil & Human Rights, and Manhattan Branch of American Association of World War II Veterans from the Former Soviet Union meeting with Congressman Charles B. Rangel.  Sept. 16, 2013

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Meeting with Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez.  Aug. 26, 2013

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July 4 - Happy Independence Day!  The link to the US Declaration of Independence in Russian  is now on our website.

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July 3 - Russian-speakers can read our analysis of the Senate immigration bill in New York's flagship Russian paper "V novom svete" and listen to it in today's recording of Voice of America Russian Service broadcast

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June 29 - RCCMB was a co-organizer of the Immigration Reform Roundtable held by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer in collaborationwith a number of government offices and nonprofit partners.

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June 28 - We greeted the final passage of the immigration reform bill in the US Senate with the following statement:

For immediate release

Friday, June 28, 2013

STATEMENT ON THE PASSAGE OF THE COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION REFORM BILL BY THE SENATE

Russian-Speaking Community Council of Manhattan and the Bronx applauds the final passage of the immigration reform bill  (S.744,  “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act”) by the U.S. Senate.  This bill represents an historic success for millions of immigrants as well as advocates for comprehensive immigration reform and will benefit the American economy.  This is in spite of some major disappointments that we share with other immigrant communities over a number of items in the bill, including the elimination of visa preferences for siblings and adult children of US citizens and the repeal of the diversity visa lottery. 

RCCMB notes that our organization was the single representative of the Russian-speaking community in the formation and activities of the statewide campaign, New Yorkers for Real Immigration Reform (NYRIR), in the beginning of 2013, advocating for the interests of our community in this context.  And in recent years, we took part in campaigns in support of some elements of this legislation, including the DREAM Act, along with our partners and allies from other immigrant communities.  We did this both because of the positive impact that the reform was going to have on Russian-speaking Americans and our country as a whole and also out of our commitment to civil and human rights for all.

The bill contains several provisions that are particularly beneficial for immigrants from countries of the former Soviet Union, including:

1)      Registered provisional immigrant status with a path to citizenship for immigrants without proper documentation, including those who overstayed their visas, if they were in the US prior to Dec. 31, 2011;

2)      Provision enabling the U.S. President to designate groups of aliens whose resettlement in the U.S. is justified by humanitarian concerns or is otherwise in the national interest, and who share common characteristics as targets of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion (which extends the scope of the Lautenberg Amendment);

3)      Lifting of the one-year deadline to file for asylum after arrival to the US and the option to reopen asylum claims within 2 years of the enactment of the bill if the rejection was based solely on missing the deadline;

4)      Waiver of English language and civics requirements for the naturalization of people over 65 years old, and those over 60 who have been permanent residents in the US for the past 10 years;

5)      Establishment of new government agencies and public-private partnerships to advance immigrant integration;

6)      Denial of admission to the U.S. to gross violators of human rights, including any alien who participated in persecution on political and other grounds or in other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering.

RCCMB conveys our profound appreciation to Sen. Charles Schumer for his pivotal role in the drafting and passage of the bill and to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand for her voting in support of this legislation.  We are also pleased that each of the Senators representing other states with significant number of immigrants from countries of the former Soviet Union (including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Virginia, and Washington) voted Yea on this bill.  We now urge the House of Representatives to do its part of the work.  We will continue to advocate for the preservation and strengthening of the provisions in the bill that are essential for our communities, including non-discrimination on the basis of national origin and stronger integration provisions, as well as for a wider inclusion and equal access to opportunities for Russian and East European as well as other smaller immigrant communities in the reform process.

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June 2 - Representatives of RCCMB took part in the Celebrate Israel Parade, under the floats of UJA-Federation of NY and other organizations, honoring the memory of hundreds of thousands of Russia's natives who sacrificed themselves for the creation of a Jewish and democratic state, built its institutions, and were the largest group among its first legislators and members of its first government. 

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May 29 - RCCMB President Dmitri Glinski spoke at the press conference of The New York Immigration Coalition and its allies at the steps of the City Hall, on the occasion of the launching of a series of voter education and registration events "Remember November" (see quote in the NYIC press release). The press conference' keynote speaker was Rep. Jose Serrano.  The event was covered by NY1 News.

 

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May 21 - RCCMB is happy to see the immigration reform bill passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee with its most beneficial provisions for refugees and asylum seekers, immigrant workers, naturalizing seniors, as well as undocumented immigrants either strengthened or intact. We look forward with optimism to further developments and will keep our supporters posted.

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May 20 - RCCMB called upon its friends and supporters to contact U.S. Senators - members of the Judiciary Committee and urge them to vote against the amendments that nullify the beneficial provisions of the immigration bill related to refugees and asylum seekers, and to vote for the amendment that restores the right of immigrants to petition for their siblings and children regardless of their age and family status. For more detail, please see Immigration_News_rus.htm.

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April 30 - RCCMB President Dmitri Daniel Glinski, together with Sara Valenzuela, Immigration and Education Liaison at the Office of NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and Bertha Lewis, President of the Black Institute, discussed the strengths and weaknesses of the immigration reform bill at the town hall of Organized for Action at the CUNY Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies.

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RCCMB took part in the press conference of Congressman Charles Rangel, New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and community organizations announcing free workshops for NYC residents on immigration reform. April 30, 2013

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April 22 - RCCMB has greeted the introduction of the immigration reform bill by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) with a statement of support produced by our legal and policy team that outlines its main advantages for new Americans from countries of the former Soviet Union and also suggests a number of amendements to the bill.

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RCCMB encourages our supporters and friends to donate to The One Fund Boston, set up by Massachusetts Governor and Boston Mayor to help the victims of terrorist attack of April 15.

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April 15 - We were proud to be a Partner Organization of Dor Chadash USA and JSpace in the celebration of Yom Ha'atzmaut - Israel Independence Day - and the 65th anniversary of the State of Israel, in whose creation and success natives of the former Russian Empire - Chaim Weizmann, Moshe Sharett, Golda Meir, and scores of others - played an indispensable role.

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April 13 - RCCMB President Dmitri Glinski and Vice President Luba Murzhenko spoke at our joint Shabbat programming with Hebrew Tabernacle Congregation on Yom Ha'atzmaut and the 65th anniversary of the State of Israel: "Israel and the Struggle for Human Rights and the Freedom of Emigration Among the Nations of the Former Soviet Union," at 551 Fort Washington Avenue, New York NY. The event was moderated by Rabbi Jeffrey Gale who traveled to Soviet Union in the 1980s to support families of political prisoners - Jews and Righeous Gentiles.

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April 10 - RCCMB President Dmitri Glinski and Alexey Potapov took part in the Immigrant Justice Lobby Day in Washington DC with The New York Immigration Coalition, including congressional meetings. Among other issues, our advocacy emphasizes the need for expanding the opportunities for immigrant integration in American society, including in particular the labor market and the workplace, where highly skilled immigrants from the former Soviet Union still often face unreasonable barriers to inclusion.

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March 28 - RCCMB co-sponsored a debate among candidates for NYC Public Advocate office at the New York Immigration Coalition.

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March 19 - Manhattan Community Board 12 approved the resolution initiated by us on co-naming an intersection in the district Alexey Murzhenko Plaza, in honor of the hero of the struggle for the freedom of emigration from Soviet Union who lived and died in Northern Manhattan after 22 years in the GULAG. 

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February 27 - RCCMB President Dmitri Glinski and Board Member Lisa Eisenberg, Esq., participated in the Immigrant Leadership Summit in Albany, which included meetings with key New York State Assemblymembers and government officials, In particular, we had the privilege to meet with New York State Secretary Cesar Perales, as well as Assemblymember Nelson Castro, Chairman of the Task Force on New Americans. In these discussions, we raised the issues of concern to our community, including the need for better representation of Russian-speaking immigrant professionals in state and municipal agencies, particularly in the areas where Russian-speakers live, such as Washington Heights or Co-Op City.

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February 19 - RCCMB has joined NYIC's campaign, New Yorkers for Real Immigration Reform, by co-signing a letter of over 130 organizations to the eight senators working on the draft immigration bill. The letter, which can be found here, calls for a legislation that woule provide "an unobstructed, direct path to citizenship, strong family reunification provisions, meaningful accountability and oversight mechanisms for border and interior enforcement, protections for all workers, and due process guarantees.

 

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2012

 

Forum on the legacy of the Soviet Jewry movement. 12/23/2012, YM&YWHA of Washington Heights and Inwood. Photo by Margaret Gorelik.

Final program of the community forum on December 23, 2012
in memory of the 25th anniversary
of the 250,000-strong March to Washington for the freedom of Soviet Jewry and in tribute to Alexey Murzhenko

"THE SOVIET JEWRY MOVEMENT AND ITS LEGACY TODAY"

Sunday, December 23, 2012, 2-4:30pm
YM & YWHA of Washington Heights & Inwood, 54 Nagle Avenue

Opening remarks: Dmitri Daniel Glinski, President of RCCMB

Rabbi Ellis Bloch, participant of the March to Washington,
Associate Director, The Jewish Education Project

Keynote: Boris Gulko, former refusenik, grandmaster in chess,
columnist of Evreisky Mir

Freda Birnbaum, Center for Russian Jewry with Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry

Lovey Murzhenko, Russian-speaking community activist
and the widow of Alexey Murzhenko

Glenn Richter, former National Coordinator, Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry

Anat Kuznetzov-Zalmanson, filmmaker and daughter of two leaders of the Soviet Jewry movement, with a trailer from her film on the Leningrad Trial

Partial video recording of this event can be viewed here.

Video and audio recordings of the conference we initiated in 2011, "The Power of Peoplehood: The Soviet Jewish Journey," with participation of Natan Sharansky, David Harris, Yosef Begun, and others, can be accessed here.

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RCCMB has concluded its spring 2012 series of  community fora and discussions at the YM & YWHA of Washington Heights and Inwood ("the Y") under the "Cup of Community Building" Program.  Thank you to all our speakers and participants for the inspiring and spirited dialogue on community affairs!
 
RCCMB
in the press release of the New York Immigration Coalition about the 15th annual Immigrant Action Day in Albany on March 14, 2012: campaigning for New York State DREAM Act and against ethnic prejudices

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December 2011

Happy Holidays and Annual Update from RCCMB (2011)



Dear friends,

on behalf of the Russian-Speaking Community Council of Manhattan & the Bronx, we extend our warm greetings and best wishes to each of you on this holiday season! As an interfaith and interethnic organization of Russian-speaking New Yorkers, we are honoring each of the religious and secular holidays celebrated by Russian-speakers and others in these weeks. We thank each and every one of you who took part in our projects and events in 2011 or otherwise contributed to them. And we are also writing to share with you a report of our activities to date.

The Russian-Speaking Community Council of Manhattan and the Bronx, Inc., was incorporated with the New York Department of State in September of this year and became a member organization of the New York Immigration Coalition earlier this month. The mission of RCCMB (proposed by its founders for further discussion and final adoption in 2012) is 1) to serve as the collective voice of the Russian-speakers residing in Manhattan and the Bronx, in their pursuit of a successful integration in American society and in the defense of their interests; 2) to advance their civic participation and leadership development; and 3) to organize them for collective action, as well as for collaboration with immigrant and other communities in the pursuit of a more just and fair society with equal opportunities for all. We are currently exploring the feasibility of expanding RCCMB into a larger territory in the near future.

The foundations of RCCMB were laid down in late 2010-earlier 2011, by a team of nonprofit organizers who set upon the task of reenergizing civic participation and the spirit of public service among Russian-speaking immigrants. This began with the observation that Russian-speakers, being the eighth largest immigrant minority in the US (according to the American Community Survey), the third largest in New York and the fifth largest in Manhattan, were relatively underrepresented in those institutions that were most relevant to them - such as community boards, staffs of local elected officials, municipal and state agencies providing social services, employment, protection of civil and human rights etc., as well as faith-based and interfaith nonprofits and philanthropies. As a result, Russian-speaking immigrants are frequently underserved by these agencies, our best and brightest professionals (particularly those with nonprofit background and with a passion for public affairs) are more often underemployed than similar professionals of other origins, while their projects that could have benefited their community and the wider American society are rarely funded. Meanwhile, the current level of support for immigrant-led nonprofits by the better-off members of the community and their businesses is far below tje level of demand for nonprofit institutions that would be able to provide regular services to the needy, advocate for communal interests, counter stereotypes and discrimination, provide employment to nonprofit talent, and positively influence the relations between the US and Russia as well as other countries with Russian-speaking population - i.e. former Soviet republics and Israel.

In the light of these observations, we teamed up with the resolve to promote change in the Russian-speaking community as well as in its immediate environment to help start remedying this situation. In the process, we also put an effort into starting to change the culture of our community debate, in the direction of more tolerance of divergent viewpoints and of new, younger voices, as well as toward a less authoritarian, top-down organizational structure. Since September 2011, while continuing our work through a variety of Jewish organizations, we have focused upon building up RCCMB as an independent nonprofit organization.

Here is a brief summary of the main projects that our team was able to initiate and accomplish over the past year:

1) Through our publications and community events with several organizations (as well as government officials, such as New York State Assembly Member William Colton), we launched a dialogue about the need to catch up with other immigrant communities in the development of the Russian-speaking nonprofit sector, capable of advocating for our socio-economic rights, as well as about the corporate social responsibility of Russian-speaking businesses in helping to develop this sector. See e.g. Dmitri Glinski's article, "The Changing Russian-Jewish Community and the American Jewish Response", published on several websites, including those of the UJA-Federation of New York and the American Jewish Committee).

2) We helped raise the visibility of Russian-speaking Jews in the Jewish community, through our high-profile involvement in some of the key events organized by the central Jewish institutions in Manhattan that had minimal Russian-speaking presence to date or none at all.

3) After incorporating RCCMB, on October 23 we held a joint public forum on housing and security, with Centro Altagracia de Fe y Justicia in Northern Manhattan, with participation of state and city legislators Robert Jackson and Ydanis Rodriguez, as well as city and state housing agencies' officials. RCCMB President Dmitri Glinski, Vice President Vladimir Gutkin, Board Chair Viktor Levin, Board Members Margaret Gorelik, Alexander Yegudin and others took part in the discussion. It was for the first time that such an event was conducted in Manhattan with interpretation available in Russian as well as in Spanish.

4) As part of our advocacy for language access, we conveyed our critical opinion to the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal with regard to their attempt to implement the requirement of providing translations into minority languages by installing Google Translate on their website. We addressed them with a statement saying that the Russian version of documents translated with this program was largely incomprehensible and could not substitute for the need to employ native language speakers. (As of today, the DHCR website provides a phone number for individuals with limited English proficiency to request the assistance of translators in dealing with these documents.)

5) As part of our intergroup education and public awareness strategy, Dmitri Glinski and Alexander Yegudin delivered a presentation about the Russian-speaking community and the work of RCCMB at the Health and Housing Committee of Manhattan Community Board 12 that manages the district with the highest concentration of Russian speakers in Manhattan.

6) Our team initiated and co-organized, with key Jewish organizations (such as AJC, JAFI, JCRC-NY, COJECO and NCSJ), a major international conference to commemorate the role of Soviet Jews and other Russian-speakers in the movement for the freedom of emigration and other human and civil rights movements at the end of the Soviet era. The conference, held at the headquarters of the American Jewish Committee on November 9, was proposed and co-chaired by RCCMB founding president Dmitri Glinski, with RCCMB co-founders Victor Levin, Margaret Gorelik, and Alex Yegudin playing key volunteer roles. The conference brought together former political prisoners and activists of the 1960s-1980s with Jewish communal leaders of today - from Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Jerusalem, and Moscow, including Natan Sharansky, Yosef Begun, and many others. This conference was our first step in our strategy of promoting the legacy of the human and civil rights movements in the former Soviet Union, first and foremost the movement for the freedom of migration, and integrating it with our immigrant rights advocacy in the United States today. You are welcome to visit the webpage with conference materials on our website at http://www.rccmb.org/PowerOfPeoplehood_Conference.htm.

7) We continued this theme of the human and civil rights legacy with a series of four public dialogues with former political prisoner and civil rights hero Yosef Begun that we held in downtown and uptown Manhattan and in Co-Op City, in English and Russian (November 15-20). These events were attended by a total of circa 120 participants, and one of them was covered in English and Spanish in Manhattan Times and The Bronx Free Press.

8) We endorsed the initiative of one of our co-founders and Vice President Professor Alexander Militarev to establish a forum for the dialogue among members of the Russian-speaking intelligentsia worldwide, on the basis of shared humanistic values. To this end, we have launched a regular forum on Russian-speaking affairs, provisionally named "The Manhattan Tribune". Its first session, on December 14, featured a dialogue with the initiators of the campaign "Fair Vote for Russia" in New York. As a result of this conversation, we adopted a resolution endorsing the goals of the worldwide rallies to defend the civil rights of Russian citizens for free and fair vote. The next session of our forum will be held in January 2012.

9) On December 24, Dr.Militarev spoke on our behalf at the "Fair Vote for Russia" rally in front of the Russian consulate, with our participation covered in a report by RIA Novosti. While as a US-based nonprofit organization of Russian-speaking immigrants, we never endorse or oppose individual politicians or parties in Russia or in the US, we consider the freedom of elections in Russia a civil rights issue relevant to all Russian-speakers worldwide. We will continue monitoring the situation and responding to it as necessary.

(In a similar vein, we also pay attention to any potential restrictions on the immigrants' voting rights in the US, which led us, together with the New York Immigration Coalition, to endorse the "Stand for Freedom" rally held on December 10 by NAACP and the unions against the restrictive provisions of a number of election laws that were proposed or adopted in some US states earlier this year.)

During this holiday break, it is time to reflect over what has been achieved and what we should do better next year. We welcome your comments and proposals and will make sure to consider all of them. We also continue to work on developing our internal structure and expanding our Board of Directors and we welcome individual proposals in this regard. And, of course, we greatly appreciate any financial contributions that you may wish to provide toward our ongoing and future activities, including for specific projects and goals that you see as a priority. To donate, please contact us at rccmb@rccmb.org.

We also invite you to stop by at our Facebook page - http://www.facebook.com/pages/Russian-Speaking-Community-Council-of-Manhattan-the-Bronx-Inc-RCCMB/142250449162843 - and "like" us.

In concluding this report to the community, we wish you again happiness, health and well-being - and look forward to being back in touch with you early in 2012!

RCCMB BOARD OF DIRECTORS

December 2011

   On December 14, 2011, an extended session of the RCCMB Board of Directors has taken stock of the organization's development over the period of its existence. The report was presented by RCCMB President Dmitri Daniel Glinski, with additional information provided by Vice Presidents Vladimir Gutkin and Dr. Alexander Militarev, Board Chair Viktor Levin, and Board members Margaret Gorelik and Alex Yegudin.

   We endorsed the initiative of one of our co-founders and Vice President Professor Alexander Militarev to establish a forum for the dialogue among members of the Russian-speaking intelligentsia worldwide, on the basis of shared humanistic values. To this end, we launched our new project - a regular forum on Russian-speaking affairs, provisionally named "The Manhattan Tribune".

   The first session of the forum featured a dialogue with the initiators of the campaign "Fair Vote for Russia" in New York. As a result of this conversation, we adopted a resolution endorsing the goals of the worldwide rallies to defend the civil rights of Russian citizens for free and fair vote. The next session of our forum will be held in January 2012.

   On December 24, Dr.Militarev spoke on our behalf at the "Fair Vote for Russia" rally in front of the Russian consulate, with our participation covered in a report by RIA Novosti. While as a US-based nonprofit organization of Russian-speaking immigrants, we never endorse or oppose individual politicians or parties in Russia or in the US, we consider the freedom of elections in Russia a civil rights issue relevant to all Russian-speakers worldwide. We will continue monitoring the situation and responding to it as necessary.

   (In a similar vein, we also pay attention to any potential restrictions on the immigrants' voting rights in the US, which led us, together with the New York Immigration Coalition, to endorse the "Stand for Freedom" rally held on December 10 by NAACP and the unions against the restrictive provisions of a number of election laws that were proposed or adopted in some US states earlier this year.)

November 2011

International Conference

"THE POWER OF PEOPLEHOOD: THE SOVIET JEWISH JOURNEY"

Conference proceedings are being posted on this special page.

After the conference, RCCMB hosted four community dialogues, in Manhattan and in the Bronx, with Yosef Begun, a hero of the Soviet Jewry movement and a former prisoner of Zion.  The concluding event was covered by The Manhattan Times.

Also in November, RCCMB President Dmitri Daniel Glinski delivered a presentation on the Russian-speaking immigrant community at the session of the Housing and Human Services Committee of Manhattan Community Board 12. The discussion, focused upon the current needs of immigrant populations in Manhattan, also featured a presentation by Roberto Estrada, Executive Director of the Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights, our close partner in the framework of the New York Immigration Coalition.

 

October 2011

THE RUSSIAN-SPEAKING COMMUNITY COUNCIL OF MANHATTAN & THE BRONX  CO-SPONSORS A HOUSING AND SAFETY FORUM IN WASHINGTON HEIGHTS

On Sunday 10/23, the Russian-Speaking Community Council of Manhattan and The Bronx (RCCMB) co-sponsored the Housing and Safety Forum, organized by the Center Altagracia for Faith and Justice at St.Elizabeth Church. The introductory remarks were presented by the Center's director of social justice ministry Kathryn Anderson and RCCMB founding president Dmitri Daniel Glinski, who noted the importance of interfaith and inter-ethnic organizing around the shared values of social justice. The forum was keynoted by Councilmembers Robert Jackson and Ydanis Rodriguez and included panelists from NYPD’s 34th Precinct Community Council, NYC’s Housing Preservation and Development, and NYS’s Department of Housing and Community Renewal. 

It was the first time that such a forum was conducted jointly by a Russian-speaking and a Hispanic organization, with interpetation provided in both languages. The Forum was attended by RCCMB Vice President Vladimir Gutkin; Board Chair Victor Levin; and Board Members Margaret Gorelik, Lisa Eisenberg, and Alex Yegudin. The Russian-speaking participants raised a range of issues, including availability of Mitchell-Lama housing; tenant rights of children who expect to return from college to the apartment rented by their parents; and language access policies of individual New York State agencies, in the light of the latest executive order on statewide language access policy issued by Governor Cuomo. RCCMB representatives raised questions about the usefulness of Google Translate on the DHCR website as a tool for language access implementation and were assured that their concerns would be taken into account.

The Russian-Speaking Community Council of Manhattan and the Bronx was launched as an interfaith initiative.  It was recently incorporated as a nonprofit organization with the NYS Department of State. Russian-speakers are currently the third largest immigrant group in New York City by language.

RCCMB BOARD OF DIRECTORS STATEMENT ON LANGUAGE ACCESS

The Board of Directors of RCCMB has issued the following statement on the implementation of language access policies by New York State agencies:

"The Russian-Speaking Community Council of Manhattan and the Bronx, Inc. applauds the series of legislative and executive actions by New York State and City autorities in recent years that have been geared toward providing language access to government services for immigrant communities.  In particular, we celebrate and commend Governor Andrew Cuomo's milestone executive order No. 26 on statewide language access policy. We are especially pleased by it since our individual members took part in advocacy for expanded language access during the 2011 Immigrant Action Day in Albany by the New York Immigration Coalition.

We believe that the proper implementation of this order is a crucial next step. In this regard, we note that some state agencies have recently installed Google Translate programs on their websites.  Thus, for example, the Division of Housing & Community Renewal uses Google Translate to provide foreign-language versions of its 43 Fact Sheets about rent regulation (http://nysdhcr.gov/Rent/factSheets/).  While we cannot judge the quality of translation into other languages, we find that the Russian text produced by Google Translate is meaningless and can be of no help whatsoever to Russian-language speakers with limited English proficiency. Our Council's language experts can provide their testimonies in support of this statement, and of the fact that there is currently no computer translation system as yet that would eliminate the need to employ professional translators for such documents.

We are well aware that the implementation of the provisions of Governor's Executive Order No. 26 has only begun and will take time.  We trust that the methods and approaches used by State agencies in their individual language access plans will provide usable translations of vital documents and forms into relevant languages.  We believe that the involvement and input of immigrant community-based organizations is essential for successfully putting this decision into practice."

   

October 28, 2011 - RCCMB held a community dialogue with the Russian-speaking residents of Co-Op City.  In the coming days, RCCMB will take part in a discussion on immigrant needs and concerns at Manhattan's Community Board 12. On November 15-20, RCCMB is planning to hold a series of community dialogues with Yosef Begun, a hero of the Soviet Jewry movement, about the lessons of this movement for today's Russian-speaking diaspora and the role of its participants in today's public life in the United States and in Israel.

For additional information and to sign up for these events, please write to rccmb@rccmb.org.