October 10, 2021
Limmud FSU mounted its first post-pandemic full-fledged three-day conference in Lviv, Ukraine, last weekend, October 7-10.
The event brought together some 350 Jews from across Ukraine; they could choose between as many as 100 sessions – four running in parallel at nearly every time slot – on topics ranging from creating a personal brand on social media, how Jews wrote Russian poetry, Israel’s ultra-orthodox Jewish community, Yiddish today, the sacrifice of Isaac in European art and Israel’s legal system, alongside master classes in candle making, Israeli food technology, musical performances, and an appearance by the Israeli stand-up comic, Ilya Axelrod.
“It is fitting that our first post-pandemic full-fledged conference was in Ukraine,” noted Limmud FSU chairman Matthew Bronfman; “In between the lockdowns, the local and devoted team of volunteers managed to mount three small-scale events, and we were delighted to return to Ukraine’s historical capital, Lviv, for a fifth time to celebrate our cautious return to ‘normal’ programming.”
The event attracted some leading public figures and officials including Ambassador of Israel to Ukraine Michael Brodsky; Regional Director of “Nativ” Felix Gurvich; The Israeli Yiddish-language specialist Dr. Mordechai Yushkovsky; Director of the “Tkuma” Ukrainian Institute for Holocaust Studies in Dnipro Dr. Igor Shchupak; Russian-Israeli Jewish-religious philosopher Pinchas Polonsky; Jewish educator Yuliya Patrakova; New York based psychotherapist Alex Yentin and more.
Dorit Golender, Genesis Philanthropy Group vice-president for community relations noted that: "Limmud conferences require a great deal from their participants: high personal motivation, interest towards Jewish knowledge and a genuine desire to find personal identity in the mosaic of our people. And it is important that the atmosphere at Limmud highlights all these qualities. Limmud in Lviv thus became for all its guests and participants an important step on the way to Jewish heritage and Jewish identity.”
Since the first conference in Moscow 15 years ago, over 75 events have been mounted by 13 volunteer teams, and Limmud FSU events, led by Bronfman, its president, Aaron G. Frenkel, founder Chaim Chesler and co-founder Sandra Cahn, have reached out over these years to some 75,000 Russian-speaking Jews across the globe.
Limmud FSU Ukraine 2021 enjoyed the generous support of the Genesis Philanthropy Group; Conference for Jewish Material Claims against Germany; Jewish National Fund (KKL); Blavatnik Family Foundation; The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee; Diane Wohl; Tom Blumberg; Dutch Jewish Humanitarian Fund; the All-Ukrainian Jewish Congress; Lviv City Council; Wilf Family Foundation; WJC International Yiddish center and more.
In the best tradition of Limmud, the event was made possible by its team of local leaders and volunteers, led by Limmud FSU Ukraine Chair Osik Akselrud; Limmud FSU Executive Director, Natasha Chechik; Limmud FSU Ukraine Project Manager Galina Rybnikova and volunteers Dasha Yefimenko; Valeria Ogorodnik; Olena Kolpakova; Yuriy Matveev; Tata Shargorodska; Dima Golovinov; Ekaterina Zubko; Olga Bard; Dmitriy Galin; Boris Bukhman; Ievgenii Valovyi; Irina Knopova; Dianna Gold and more.