One of the most prominent participants in the Limmud FSU conference in Eilat was a large and rather overwhelming presence called Aaron G. Frenkel. He is the President of Limmud FSU, a regular visitor to its festivals and an avid member of the audience at many of the presentations. Frenkel is convinced that Limmud FSU is a phenomenal success; not just because of the number of participants in its various events and festivals, but because of the nature of its core aims.
It was Frenkel who spoke on behalf of Limmud FSU leadership in the framework of the event opening ceremony: “I still remember the first Limmud FSU event in our history that took place in Moscow in 2006. It was an innovative and exciting start-up, and none of us - the founding donors, the volunteers, or the participants who came to experience the extraordinary project, was not sure what the future holds”.
He elaborated and told the participants and the distinguished guests that:” One thing was clear to all of us - it was the beginning of a major breakthrough in everything related to the Jewish identity of Jews from the former Soviet Union, wherever they may be. Whether in the CIS countries, North America, Australia, Israel, and anywhere else where the Jewish people were located following the fall of the Iron Curtain”.
Frenkel also told the audience about the exceptional spirit he saw and felt at that very first event: “When I saw the spark in the eyes of all those volunteers and young participants in Moscow, giving and investing their best efforts and free time for this innovative event to succeed, I knew that this was the beginning of a revolution and a new era in the history of the Jews of the former Soviet Union”.
He added that they knew that if they continue to succeed as they did, “we will bring with us the spirit, the pride and the Jewish brotherhood to more and more places around the globe, thereby making a significant and invaluable contribution to the unity of Israel and the Jewish people”. Frenkel also emphasized the importance of preserving the spirit of a start-up and “not to enter into permanence, and built-in standards. We have to preserve this spirit and keep on innovating and learning all the time. Albert Einstein once said, while addressing the graduates of UCLA, that he wishes everyone not only to be successful, but to be a person with values. Successful people take everything they can from the world, as opposed to people with values, that give everything to the world".
Regarding the particular success of the project in Israel, said Frenkel that: “The wonderful concept of Limmud has touched so many people in such a short time, and the success of the project in Israel is an achievement in itself. There are more than 2,000 Russian-speaking Israelis and their families here with us today. They all came here to feel the sense of "togetherness," to experience, to learn, to broaden horizons and to join together to look into the future of the Jewish people, out of a shared sense of identity, unity of destiny, and in pursuit of common values for every Jew wherever he or she may be”.