The festival hosted a range of leading public figures and political leaders, including the President of the Supreme Court, Justice Esther Hayut, former Deputy President of the Supreme Court, Elyakim Rubinstein, State Comptroller, Yosef Chaim Shapira, Chief Scientist of the Ministry of Immigration, Prof. Zeev Hanin, two former defense ministers, Avigdor Lieberman and Lieut. Gen. Moshe Ya’alon, former minister Gideon Sa’ar, Minister for the Environment and Jerusalem Affairs, Zeev Elkin, Vice President for Community Relations Dorit Golender, head of the opposition in the Knesset, MK Tsipi Livni, Chair of the Jewish Agency Executive, Isaac Herzog, the co-founder of Mobileye, Ziv Aviram, President of the Sha’arei Hamishpat College, Aviad HaCohen and Rabbi Benny Lau. The festive opening ceremony featured the popular singer, David Da’Or.
The program encompassed more than 180 lectures, workshops, master classes and presentations given by 100 expert speakers, each in their own field, on a vast range of subjects, complemented by a special age-appropriate program for children.
Founder of Limmud FSU, Chaim Chesler, said, “We are delighted to be holding the festival once again in Jerusalem, and to continue the successful Limmud model, together with over 1,000 young people, our indefatigable body of volunteers, leading public figures and entrepreneurs, and with respected lecturers and teachers on a wide variety of topics of Jewish interest.”
A panel discussion devoted to the 90th birthday of the late Elie Wiesel, took place with the participation of Justice Hayut who said, “The State of Israel is a source of strength, pride and hope for us all and we have the obligation to guard and protect it and its democratic values determined by our forefathers when the state was created. At the head of those values is the respect for the basic human rights of freedom and equality.”
The President of Limmud FSU, Aaron G. Frenkel added, “Our decision to return this year to the eternal capital of Israel was based on the feeling that there was nothing more suitable than the holy city of the Jewish people to hold the opening festival of a new decade, with a bold look at the future and with complete faith in our proven success.”
Michael Mirashvilli, President of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, said, “Every Jew throughout his lifetime encounters many different aspects of science with different theories that, at some point in human development, are overturned, although at the time when they first evolve, they were thought to be true. Our people has a unique and eternal knowledge, the Torah, which contrary to other forms of knowledge has remained true for hundreds of years. The Torah is the basis for our existence and is the essence of our life.”
In an interview, Yosef Chaim Shapira, the State Comptroller, pointed out that “Limmud FSU conferences, both in Israel but especially in the Diaspora, are of the utmost significance in presenting an important model for pluralistic, multi-cultural discussions that encompass all the strands and communities of the Jewish people, especially at a time when the relationship between the Jews in Israel and the Diaspora is becoming ever more complex in the light of the justified and legitimate disagreements between the different strands of the Jewish people. It is essential to create a common platform for discussion and dialogue so as to unify the Jews in the Diaspora and those who live in Zion.”
The Limmud FSU Festival was supported by the Immigration and Absorption Department of the Municipality of Jerusalem, Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, Genesis Philanthropy Group, Conference for Jewish Material Claims against Germany, Ukrainian Jewish Encounter, Ministry for Jerusalem Affairs, Joel Passick, and March of the Living.
The festival was mounted by a devoted group of volunteers under the direction of Limmud FSU Executive Director, Roman Kogan, project director, Tanya Pashayeva, chair of the Program Committee, Rina Zaslavsky, Alex Agranov, chair of the Participant Recruitment Committee, Pavel Pivavarov, chair of the Marketing Committee, and Max Rusinov, chair of the Logistics Committee.