Limmud FSU Returns to Volga-Urals

October 10, 2021
Limmud FSU mounted its first post-pandemic, full-fledged three-day conference in Kazan, October 8-10 for 400 Jews from the Volga-Urals region of Russia. This was the third time Limmud FSU held one of its conferences of Jewish learning in the city, the first was in 2015. A separate program reached out to 70 children aged 3-13 in three age groups, and it is the second large-scale event that Limmud FSU has mounted since the pandemic lockdowns.

“We are delighted to return to Kazan,” noted Limmud FSU president, Aaron G. Frenkel, “Not only have we managed to move from specially-adapted one-day conferences to three-day events. It is extraordinary and truly noteworthy to consider the distances that people traveled to attend; they came from tens of towns in the Volga-Urals region, large and small, among them Ekaterinburg, Chelyabinsk, Nizhny Novgorod. Despite the difficulties of intercity travel in the pandemic era, they were determined to attend a celebration of Jewish learning. That speaks strongly about the critical importance of Limmud FSU events. We are inspired by the enthusiasm of the participants; we are touched by the support of keynote speakers, among them, Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar, our longtime supporter, and friend.״

The event attracted some leading public figures and officials including Lazar; Minister Plenipotentiary of the Embassy of Israel in Moscow, Ronen Krausz; Chief Rabbi of Tatarstan, Yitzhak Gorelik; Regional Director of the “Nativ” representative office for Russia, Belarus and the Baltic countries, Yana Agmon; noted writers Vadim Zhuk and Igor Irtenyev and more.

In an open question and answer session, Rabbi Lazar said that “Limmud is first and foremost a place for Jews to be together. Today, everything is written in books, and it’s clearer there than in a lecture, but the point about Limmud is that you are doing it together. The Talmud says that when Jews come together, that is already a holy event. The very name Limmud is itself a symbol of the Jewish people. True happiness doesn’t come from sitting alone at home; a Jew cannot say ‘LeChaim’ over a glass of wine when alone; we say ‘LeChaim’ when we are with others. Limmud is first and foremost a beautiful public space where Jews come together.”

"This is not the first Limmud in Kazan,” noted Dorit Golender, Genesis Philanthropy Group vice-president for community relations, “and we know that in previous years the conference was held here in its best traditions - supporting and strengthening Jewish identity through an interest in Jewish culture and heritage combined with a spirit of volunteerism. This is the key to the success of Limmud all over the world and Kazan was no exception.”

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 the organization’s chair, Matthew Bronfman, Frenkel, the president, 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 West Coast 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; “Afifon” 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 Executive Director Natasha Chechik and the project manager Vitalia Levina, chair of the organizing committee Polina Galitskaya, volunteers Anna Dzhanbekova, Vladimir Broyda, Lia Bushkanetz, Ivan Simonov, Alexander Kordonchik, Ulyana Guseva, Svetlana Berman, Tatiana Gordina, Alexei Evdokimov, Ekaterina Zueva, Olga Merzlyakova, Ilona Ostanina, Anton Raitzin, Viktor Redkozubov, Evgeniya Sontz, Leonid Usyatinsky, Dmitrii Flax, Irina Halitova and more. 

The event took place on the grounds of the camp which now serve as a museum