A record number of 2,150 Jewish participants took part in the biggest Jewish event in Moscow during the past weekend. The program of the flagship annual festival included more than 250 sessions on wide range of topics, with a great selection of activities each hour, for 2 different age groups. In total, the conference included more than 350 different lectures, sessions, panels and performances, and also a special children program, that was structured as Limmud with many options and run by the volunteers-teenagers–an innovative approach.
Keynote speakers at the conference included Russia’s chief rabbi, Berel Lazar, Israel’s Minister of Jerusalem Affairs and Minister of Environmental Protection Zeev Elkin, Limmud FSU President Aaron G. Frenkel, Israeli Ambassador to Russia Gary Koren, President and CEO of Genesis Philanthropy Group Ilia Salita, Regional director of "Nativ" in Russia and Belarus Yana Agmon, Philanthropist Harold Grinspoon, lawyer Mikhail Barschevsky, author Lyudmila Ulitskaya ,Vice President of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress Moshe Shvets , Director of the Russian-speaking programs of the Steinsaltz Center Lia Shvets , curator of the exhibit Uri Gershovich ,coacher and psychologist Nesia Ferdman and more.
Founder of Limmud FSU, Chaim Chesler: “It’s truly unbelievable that we reached our 13th milestone in Moscow, the very place where Limmud FSU was born, and we’re honored to continue serving an important part in the life of the local Jewish community”. Sandy Cahn, Limmud FSU co-founder added that “it is our hope to continue to flourish and strengthen our wonderful community in Moscow, it’s truly inspiring and unprecedent.”
One of the highlights of the event was the inauguration of a new exhibition based on the life’s work and heritage of the noted Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Rabbi Steinsaltz was one of the first spiritual leaders of Limmud FSU and took part in its inaugural event in Moscow in 2006. The exhibit was produced especially for the event by Limmud FSU and the Steinsaltz Center in Jerusalem. At the festive opening, a round-table discussion took place on the philosophy and heritage of the rabbi with the participation of distinguished guests from Israel and elsewhere.
One of the conference’s participants, Inna Kagan (25), said: “This is my 5th time at Limmud FSU in Moscow, and I can definitely say that it is just keep getting better and better each year. Amazing energy, atmosphere, and so many high – quality content that makes it almost impossible to choose. I just love it.” Regional director of "Nativ" in Russia and Belarus, Yana Agmon: “The preservation of an Independent Jewish identity is the shared motive of Nativ and Limmud FSU. We don’t presume to impose from above but study together as to how to strengthen the Jewish ethical core that binds our people together. We are even more delighted that we were partners in preparing the Israel content for the Moscow Limmud FSU festival.
Supporters of the event included Genesis Philanthropy Group (GPG), Nativ, Claims Conference, Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee 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 Roman Kogan and the Project Manager Elena Zakharova, volunteers Mikhail Libkin, Alexandra Livergant, Alexander Piatigorskiy, Anna Tseplyaeva and others.
Saint Petersburg today it is one of the most vibrant, flourishing Jewish communities in the former Soviet Union, with roughly 100,000 Jews, making it the second-largest Jewish community in Russia. Annual conferences, started in 2011, reflect high intellectual caliber and cultural-oriented programming, as one would expect from a Jewish learning festival held in Russia’s cultural capital. “We take pride in playing a central role in one of the most dynamic Jewish communities in Russia” said Chaim Chesler, founder of Limmud FSU, during the festival. “This project truly has it all – a wonderful atmosphere, high quality program and presenters, enthusiastic spirit and a very engaged audience hungry for a Jewish learning experience. This is our seventh event in St. Petersburg, and we look forward to continue the tradition for many years to come.”
Limmud FSU St. Petersburg featured over the long weekend more than 100 lectures, workshops, and discussions in the pluralistic spirit of Limmud. The top presenters this year included the economist Evgeny Kogan, the acclaimed animation director Garry Bardin, famous educator Dima Zicer, Director of the Religious Community of Saint Petersburg Rabbi Shaul Brook, Russian-Israeli Jewish-religious philosopher Pinchas Polonsky, Former Israeli Member of Knesset and head of Jewish Agency's representative office in St Petersburg and North-west Russia Orit Zuaretz and many more.
Alex Mershon, the Director of the Department of Culture and Education of Nativ in the Israel Prime-Minister’s office said: "We have supported Limmud FSU’s activity for many years. This wonderful platform enables young adults to conduct discussions and take part in lectures and sessions relating to the State of Israel, the Jewish world, education, culture and more in a great atmosphere. Nativ recommends Limmud FSU, because of the great importance and impact it has on the community.”
“This is my second time at Limmud,” said Masha Kagan (25) from St. Petersburg, “I was so excited after my first one in 2017 that this time I brought along my parents, and my best friend. It is such an amazing and unique experience; every member of the Jewish community here should experience it at least once. Next year I also plan to be a volunteer.”
Limmud FSU St. Petersburg was made possible thanks to a devoted team of volunteers, led by Executive Director Roman Kogan, together with Iulia Anokhina, Yulia Karasik, Faina Rokhlina, Irina Fatyanova, Regina Pritula and Alla Lemlekh among others.
The Conference was made possible through the support of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, the Genesis Philanthropy Group, JDC, the St. Petersburg Jewish Religious Community, Nativ - Israel Prime-Minister's office, Jewish Culture House ESOD, the Russian Jewish Congress, the Jewish Agency, Joel Passick and others.
To mark the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a special event took place today in the Chamber of the Holocaust on Jerusalem’s Mount Zion, during which a plaque was unveiled in honor of Chiune Sempo Sugihara, who was responsible for saving thousands of Jews during the Holocaust. The Chamber was the first museum devoted to the Holocaust in Israel and was established in 1949. The event was initiated by Limmud FSU, the Claims Conference, March of the Living and World Zionist Organization.
Japanese diplomat Chiune Sempo Sugihara, who helped to save more than six thousand Jews during the Second World War, by supplying to them transit visas to escape from Nazi-occupied territories and travel through to Japanese territory.
Chaim Chesler, Limmud FSU founder and the initiator of the event, said that “Chiune Sugihara saved thousands of Jews at great personal risk and while endangering not only himself but also his family. Our main aim in mounting this event is to honor his memory formally, in the first Holocaust museum in Israel, and to bring his story of great heroism and self-sacrifice to the wider public.”
Shlomo Gur, the Vice President for Israel, Claims Conference said: "The mention of the deeds of Sugihara and other Righteous Among the Nations is meaningful especially in the current period when there is an awakening of anti-Semitism around the world. We in the Claims Conference see great importance in teaching the history of the Holocaust, which includes, of course, the heroic actions by the Righteous Among the Nations, who saved Jews while endangering their own lives and their own future."
Following the ceremony, a plaque honoring Sugihara was unveiled in the Chamber of the Holocaust, and a special song, "Way of the Samurai" honored Sugihara's memory, performed by the singer Avner Budagov.
Rabbi Yitzhak Goldstein, chairman of the Chamber of the Holocaust, said after a prayer in Sugihara's memory: "The ceremony in honor of Sugihara has profound significance beyond the rescue of thousands of Jews during the terrible Holocaust years. The consul was a partner in saving a meaningful part of the soul of the Jewish people because the survivors were the main avenue of the talmidei hakhamim who restored the world of Torah and yeshivas after the war."
Rabbi of the March of the Living, Yochanan Fried: "In the vast darkness of the Holocaust, there were also a few points of light. One of them was Mr. Sugihara, a Righteous among the Nations. We thank him for saving so many people, and for saving the dignity of humanity.” Eli Cohen, CEO of the World Zionist Organization: "Holocaust Remembrance and the struggle against anti-Semitism is more important today than ever. It must be part of every person in order to ensure that no other human being will experience it ever again.”
Survivors and several senior officials took part in the ceremony, among them Japanese Ambassador to the State of Israel Mr. Koichi Aiboshi that said: "In 1940 Mr. Sugihara made a really faithful decision, without consulting anybody, but on his own conscious. This decision saved thousands of lives. For diplomat whose home country was a practical ally of Nazis Germany, this was extremely courage action." Avram Cimerring, son of Israel Yoel Cimerring who was saved by Sugihara declared: "My father R.I.P. came to Israel in 1941 after he was saved by Sugihara. Now our family, with children and grandchildren is 60 people. With the help of Sugihara, this is our victory over the Nazis."
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.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.
Among the featured presenters at the event : President and CEO of UJA Federation of Greater Toronto Adam Minsky, entrepreneur and Limmud FSU’s Chairman of the Steering Committee Matthew Bronfman, Consul General of Israel to Toronto and Western Canada Galit Baram, Limmud FSU Canada Honorary Chair and the main sponsor Harry Rosenbaum, IDF Commando Officer and team member of Operation Entebbe Rami Sherman, Chief Executive of Limmud organization (UK) Eli Ovits, Hebron Community Spokesperson Yishai Fleisher, writer and blogger Rachel Danziger - Sharansky, Raphael Hofstein, Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch, Irvin Studin, Melissa Lantsman and many more. “This annual Limmud FSU Canada has been an amazing experience,” said Matthew Bronfman, “The team have done a great job, and you could really see that the participants were getting a lot from the sessions, which were packed and that’s what we’re here for, this wonderful combination of socialization and learning.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
550 people gathered this weekend for Limmud FSU Canada, the biggest event geared towards the Russian-speaking community in the country. It took place at the Blue Mountain Resort, an alpine ski resort just northwest of Toronto, and featured an array of world-class programs and speakers from around the world. Limmud FSU Canada, a dynamic and pluralistic Jewish festival of culture, creativity and learning featured inspiring speakers and different panels, workshops and discussions on subjects ranging from art, to Jewish culture and tradition, history, politics, academics, business and lifestyles. Currently, there are about 550,000 Jews living in Canada among which 137,000 are Russian-speaking.
Among the featured presenters at the event : President and CEO of UJA Federation of Greater Toronto Adam Minsky, entrepreneur and Limmud FSU’s Chairman of the Steering Committee Matthew Bronfman, Consul General of Israel to Toronto and Western Canada Galit Baram, Limmud FSU Canada Honorary Chair and the main sponsor Harry Rosenbaum, IDF Commando Officer and team member of Operation Entebbe Rami Sherman, Chief Executive of Limmud organization (UK) Eli Ovits, Hebron Community Spokesperson Yishai Fleisher, writer and blogger Rachel Danziger - Sharansky, Raphael Hofstein, Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch, Irvin Studin, Melissa Lantsman and many more. “This annual Limmud FSU Canada has been an amazing experience,” said Matthew Bronfman, “The team have done a great job, and you could really see that the participants were getting a lot from the sessions, which were packed and that’s what we’re here for, this wonderful combination of socialization and learning.”
“We’re always excited for our events in Canada, where the Russian-Jewish community is experiencing a remarkable renaissance”, said Chaim Chesler, Limmud FSU founder, “We are proud of this inspiring gathering that will contribute to the tremendous vitality of Russian-Jewish life in Canada”. Limmud FSU Co-Founder Sandra Cahn added: “Our team of Canadian volunteers has consistently grown the gathering year after year, we are so proud that Limmud FSU is now a permanent fixture on the Canadian-Jewish landscape.” “Limmud FSU is a prime facilitator of rebuilding the world of Jewish involvement in your own community”, said Harry Rosenbaum, “It is a source of the expression and strengthening the connection to Jewish people and Jewish tradition, it is a model for finding paths to the hearts and souls of the participants.”
“Limmud FSU Canada is a group of young, smart, energetic people, who love Israel,” said Galit Baram, “I believe the next generation should become more involved in the Jewish life here in Canada, so it was great to see many young people in the audience.”
"UJA Federation is so proud to be a partner in what has become one of the most successful Limmud events anywhere in the world”, said Adam Minsky, “Limmud FSU genuinely helps strengthen Jewish identity and ensures that our heritage and our values are passed down from generation to generation.”Conference Chair Eitan Dudnick: “Our committee, with the help of the global Limmud FSU organization, was able to create an amazing program, and we are fortunate to have many renowned local and international speakers. Moreover, this year we’ve worked harder on creating more value for Young Professionals and increased the number of interactive activities and workshops.”
The festival enjoyed the generous support of Genesis Philanthropy Group (GPG), UJA - Federation of Greater Toronto, Claims Conference, UJE, BMO Wealth Management, Great Gulf Charitable Foundation –Harry and Malka Rosenbaum, The Binah Charitable Foundation – Julia and Henry Koschitzky, Nathan and Lily Silver Charitable Foundation - Shoel Silver, Miriam and Larry Robbins Foundation and others.
Limmud FSU Canada was made possible thanks to the team of local leaders and volunteers, led by Country Director Mila Voihanski and Limmud FSU executive director Roman Kogan, together with Conference Chair Eitan Dudnick, Chair of Program committee Alexander Kutman, Chair of Fundraising committee Alex Plotkin, Chair of Marketing committee Ella Petrenko, Co-chairs of Logistics committee Ilia Dobkin and Irina Levit, Chair of Finance Julia Raudanskis and many more.
650 members of the Jewish community of Ukraine gathered in Lviv (Lvov) for the 11th annual volunteer-driven festival of Jewish learning organized by Limmud FSU. The four-day conference, dedicated to Israel’s 70th anniversary, took place in the cultural capital of Ukraine for the fourth time, and included more than 120 seminars, lectures, presentations, excursions and workshops, given by an array of international and local speakers, as well as a special program for children.
Among keynote speakers were Joel Lion, Israel’s Ambassador to Ukraine; Dorit Golender, Genesis Philanthropy Group and former Israeli Ambassador to Russia; Dr. Zeev Khanin, Chief Scientist of the Israel Ministry of Immigration and Absorption; Mayor of Lviv, Andriy Sadovyi; the famous Russian-Jewish actor, Immanuil Vitorgan from Moscow; Alex Mershon, Director of the Department of Culture and Education at Nativ; Dr. Igor Shchupak, Director of “Tkuma” - the Ukrainian Institute for Holocaust Studies; Rabbi Grigoriy Abramovich from Belarus and many others.
Ambassador Lion told the participants during the opening event on Thursday night; “I am very happy to be here together with so many members of the proud Jewish community of Ukraine, which was also the homeland of such Zionist leaders as Zeev Jabotinsky, Moshe Sharett and Golda Meir. Be proud to be a Jew, and always know that you have a homeland in the State of Israel.”
During the opening event, the Mayor of Lviv, Andriy Sadovyi, said: “No one in the world achieved what the Jewish people did with the establishment of the State of Israel. My wish is that the people of Ukraine believe in themselves in the same that the Jewish people believe in their state”. Chaim Chesler, founder of Limmud FSU, said; “We are proud to celebrate our 11th event in Ukraine, home to one of the most thriving Jewish communities in the world and a city rich in Jewish history and culture”. Osik Akselrod Limmud FSU Ukraine Chair added; “The key to Limmud's success lies in its unique combination of learning, recreation and communication, which harmoniously unite in creating the unique Limmud” atmosphere.”
Limmud FSU Ukraine was made possible thanks to the team of local leaders and volunteers, led by Project Manager Galina Rybnikova and Limmud FSU executive director Roman Kogan, together with the volunteers’ committee chair, Dasha Yefimenko from Rovno; program committee chair, Valeria Ogorodnik from Uzhgorod, public relations and marketing committee chair, Zhenya Khorzhevskiy, from Odessa, and the participants’ experience committee chair, Olena Kolpakova, from Dnepr.
The festival enjoyed the generous support of the Dutch Jewish Humanitarian Fund (JHF), Genesis Philanthropy Group, Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, the Conference for Material Claims against Germany, Israeli Foreign Ministry, Nativ – Israel Prime-minister’s office, All-Ukrainian Jewish congress headed by Vadim Rabinovich and Ukrainian Jewish Encounter (UJE).
More than 250 members of the Russian-speaking Jewish community of Australia, gathered for the popular annual volunteer-driven festival of Jewish learning organized by Limmud FSU (former Soviet Union.) The one-day conference took place at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, and included more than 70 seminars, lectures, presentations and workshops, given by an array of international and local speakers, as well as a full-day program for children. One of the prominent speakers at the event was Emmanuel Gruzman, PhD Candidate at Monash University in Melbourne, who talked about his ongoing PhD research on Jewish identity of Russian-speaking Jews in Melbourne, where the majority of them reside today (7,000 out of an estimated 11,000 in Australia).
According to Gruzman’s PhD study to be published in 2019, the proportion of Jews from the FSU who have a partner or spouse who is non-Jewish is lower (18% among secular and traditional) than among Israelis living in Melbourne (23%). This number is substantial lower than the rate of intermarriages in USA – 58% between 2000-2013, according to PEW study from 2013.
Among keynote speakers at the festival were Mark Sofer, Israel’s Ambassador to Australia; Dr. Danny Lamm, President of the Zionist Federation of Australia; Ruta Vanagaite a bestselling Lithuanian writer; Ron Weiser from the Zionist Federation of Australia who also moderated the event; Emile Sherman, an Academy Award winning film producer; Rabbi Dovid Slavin, Executive Director of the Rabbinical College of Sydney; Emma Lippa, former concertmaster of the Bolshoi Ballet of Moscow; Rabbi Yehoram Ulman, spiritual leader of the Russian-Jewish community of Sydney, and many more.
Ambassador Mark Sofer said during the event; “The main reason I am here today is because I think that the FSU communities around the world, including here in Australia, are among the most beautiful, wonderful, and contributing communities to Jewish history and its future. Israel’s loss is Australia’s gain.” Chaim Chesler, founder of Limmud FSU, said; “We are proud to continue to develop our activities here in Australia, so as to contribute to strengthening the integration of Russian-speakers into the country’s Jewish community.” Semyon Teplitskiy, one of the participants, remarked; “I really admire the volunteers’ effort, and hope to be able to join this wonderful team the next time Limmud FSU takes place in Australia.” Another participant, Laya Slavin, said; “It is such a pleasure to see so many happy faces of people enjoying this special and unique celebration of Jewish learning.”
Limmud FSU Australia is made possible by a team of local leaders and volunteers, led by Project Manager Anna Maylis, together with Rina Kuczko, Inna Polura, Anatol Romanov and others. Maylis said; “I have been overwhelmed by the positive feedback from the participants, who so much appreciate the efforts made by the volunteers in organizing such an important and remarkable event for our community. The festival has brought together hundreds of Russian Jews and demonstrates the unity of our community and its strong connection to Jewish culture and heritage.”
The festival took place thanks to the generous support of Genesis Philanthropy Group, Harry Triguboff, the Zionist Federation of Australia, the Conference for Material Claims against Germany and several other Limmud FSU donors.
Just two months after anti-Semitic graffiti were daubed on the walls of the Wiesel family home in Sighet, which is now a museum to Holocaust Remembrance, a special event in support of the local community’s war against anti-Semitism and violence was held, during which a multi-faith dialogue was held with the participation of members of the three religious communities of Romania. The event, initiated by Limmud FSU (former Soviet Union) and “March of the Living,” also marked the 90th birthday of the late Eli Wiesel, the noted Nobel peace prize laureate and Holocaust survivor.
At the event, awards were made by the organizing bodies, the Jewish community of Sighet, and the Federation of the Jews of Romania, to the Mayor of Sighet, Horia Vasile Scubli and the local law authorities, who led the campaign against violence and anti-Semitism which resulted in the arrest of the suspected perpetrator a few days after the outrage. Many local citizens participated in the ceremony, including some 100 pupils from local schools. The multi-faith dialogue was attended by members of the three religious communities in Romania including, among others, Chief rabbi of Romania, Rabbi Rafael Schaeffer, Chief rabbi of Russia, Rabbi Berel Lazar, Aaron G. Frenkel, the President of Limmud FSU; Dr. Joel Rappel, founder of the Eli Wiesel Archives at Boston University; Prof. Aviad Hacohen, Dean of the Sha’arei Mishpat Academic College; Chaim Chesler, Founder of Limmud FSU; and Aaron Tamir, Deputy Chair of the “March of the Living.” The dialogue was devoted to the fight against hatred, anti-Semitism and violence, as inspired by the legacy of Eli Wiesel.
Berel Lazar, Chief rabbi of Russia, said during the course of the dialogue; “My great-grandfather held a very warm place in his heart for Sighet. He often told me that it was part of a rich nation – one especially rich in spirit. At the same time, the Holocaust is a part of its history and it is therefore important to remember well what happened here and to bear a message for the future – to do everything possible to stop the scourge of anti-Semitism. What is more important than the individual who daubed the graffiti on the wall of the Wiesel house, is learning who it was that taught him to hate. Hatred leads to murder, murder leads to ruin and in the end, everyone is the loser. Therefore, the most important lesson to be learnt is to strive for peace and amity and to preach understanding and love.”
Chaim Chesler, founder of Limmud FSU said; “The decision to hold today’s event in Sighet was taken after the graffiti incident at the family home of one of the greatest figures in contemporary Jewish history. Our purpose was to launch a heartfelt call that such events will not be repeated –neither here in Sighet nor in any other place in the world.”
Aharon Tamir, deputy chair of the “March of the Living” added; “Behind the cooperation of our two organizations, “March of the Living” and Limmud FSU, lies the belief that if we combine forces, we will be the stronger for it and in that way, we can strive for a better world. We believe that it is our mission to impart a strong and implacable attitude toward anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial, and there is nothing more symbolic to do so in the very place which nurtured Eli Wiesel.”
This dialogue followed a procession that took place one year ago in Sighet marking the first anniversary of the death of Wiesel, which left from his family home and concluded at the train station, from which the Wiesel family and many RomanianJews were transported to Auschwitz, and which has been renamed “Gare Elie Wiesel.” Participating in the procession were hundreds of local Sighet citizens, representatives of the Romanian government, public figures from Israel including Minister of Social Equality, Gila Gamliel; MK Yair Lapid; representatives of the “March of the Living” and Limmud FSU and Conference for Material Claims against Germany.
During the event, a large anti – BDS protest took place in the center of the campus, led by prominent Jewish world figures such as Limmud FSU Chair Matthew Bronfman and Rabbi Marc Schneier.
The program of the conference included dozens of lectures, sessions, panels and performances on wide range of topics. Among them: a panel with the businessmen and philanthropists Leonard Blavatnik and Matthew Bronfman, session of the outspoken transgender activist and a former Hasidic Rabbi Abby Stein on her life journey, special session by Professor Alan Dershowitz on BDS and Israel, and Howard Rosenman, who told his story as an academy award winning gay Jewish producer. Other speakers at the event included Boris Burda from Ukraine, Ruta Vanagaite from Lithuania fashion designer Leonid Gurevich, IDF senior Grisha Yakubovich from Israel and more.
Founder of Limmud FSU, Chaim Chesler: “We’re are extremely happy to be here for the first time ever in the Columbia University, on the 70 th anniversary of Israel, to celebrate with hundreds of despite the helpless BDS efforts to boycott the Jewish state”.
Supporters of the event included Genesis Philanthropy Group, Claims Conference, IDB Bank, Tom Blumberg and Covenant Foundation, that supported the event with a brand- new grant for volunteer education and leadership training program for United States based Limmud FSU volunteers. The first activity was held in COJECO on May 3 (Pre- conference volunteers learning session).
In the best tradition of Limmud FSU, the event was made possible by its team of local leaders and volunteers, including the Project Manager Noam Shumakh – Khaimov, co- chairs Alina Bitel and Roman Sidler, as well as volunteers committee chairEstee Bardanashvili, programming committee chair Nina Faynberg and many others.
Sandy Cahn, Limmud FSU co-founder said that “Thanks to the Covenant foundation grant, we have begun to create an enhanced network of young leaders who are educated in Jewish history, heritage, and culture, and who have the connections, skills, and tools to shape the future of the Russian-speaking Jewish community in the United States.”
The program included more than 250 sessions on wide range of topics, and also – for the first time – a special full program for children, with a wide selection of activities each hour, for 2 different age groups. In total, the conference included more than 350 different lectures, sessions, panels and performances.
Keynote speakers at the conference included Russia’s chief rabbi, Berel Lazar, Israel’s Minister of Aliyah and Integration Sofa Landver, Limmud FSU President Aaron G. Frenkel, Israeli Ambassador to Russia Gary Koren, former Israeli Ambassador to Russia Dorit Golender, who is vice president of Genesis Philanthropy Group (GPG), Head of Nativ Netta Briskin - Peleg, acclaimed composer Sergey Nikitin, TV journalist Nikolay Svanidze and many more. Supporters of the event included Genesis Philanthropy Group (GPG), Nativ, Claims Conference, Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and more.
Founder of Limmud FSU, Chaim Chesler: “We’re are extremely happy to be here, right after Israel’s 70 anniversary, to celebrate with more than 2,000 youngsters at our flagships event for the 12th time”. Sandy Cahn, Limmud FSU co-founder added that “we hope to continue to grow and strengthen our amazing community here in Moscow, it’s truly inspiring.”
Daria (25) from Moscow: “It’s my first time at Limmud FSU. I was told by friend that it’s an amazing event that I have to experience, and after these 3 days I feel so lucky that I decided to come. This is the most powerful Jewish event I’ve ever been to here in Russia.”
In the best tradition of Limmud, the event was made possible by its team of local leaders and volunteers, including the Project Manager Galina Murakhovskaya, Mikhail Libkin, Alexandra Livergant, Alexander Piatigorskiy, and others.
This morning, several hundred residents of this small Polish town, the birth place of David Ben Gurion, the first Prime Minister of the State of Israel, took place in a procession to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Israel’s independence this coming Wednesday. The local citizens including children and teenagers participated in the procession and the official ceremony that followed.
The event, which was organized by Limmud FSU (former Soviet Union), the March of the Living, and the Municipality of Plonsk, was joined by the Chief Rabbi ofPoland, Michael Schudrich, Anna Azari, Israel’s ambassador to Poland and was led by the Mayor of Plonsk, Andrzej Pietrasik.
The marchers passed several of the way stations of Ben Gurion’s early life including a square named after him in the same spot where was the house in which he was born in 1886, and the home of his uncle in which he lived for most of his childhood before immigrating to Israel in 1906.
During the ceremony, the youngsters performed dances in traditional costume including to the strains of Israeli tunes such as Hava Nagila. Speeches were delivered by local and Israeli dignitaries including Schudrich, Azari, Chaim Chesler, founder of Limmud FSU, the deputy chair of March of the Living, Aharon Tamir and the town’s priest, Rev. Edmond Makovsky.
Rabbi Michael Schudrich said: “Today in this moving ceremony in Plonsk, we have witnessed the true Poland, and the reverse side of the true relations betweenPoland and Israel. A quiet and dignified procession, its face turned toward peace and brotherhood, with no counter demonstrations and without strain and tension. It is not at all clear that such an event could have taken place today in Paris, Stockholm or London.”
Schudrich added; “What we have seen in this ceremony today is the Poland with whom we need to work together and to nurture the relationship. It is true that there are some problems, but there are also solutions – today’s event is part of the solution.”
In the framework of the summit’s various exciting activities made possible thanks to UJA- Federation of New York and L.A Pincus Fund, one of the panels was in particular intriguing - Chief Rabbi of Poland Michael Schudrich, Israel’s Ambassador to Poland Anna Azari, Limmud FSU Chairman Matthew Bronfman and AJC Central Europe Director Agnieszka Markiewicz spoke about the infamous Poland’s Holocaust law during a special session on the sensitive topic:
“Some of the Jewish responses to the Polish law were irresponsible” stated Schudrich in front of young participants from 9 countries. “To say that all the Poles are anti-Semites is not true. it’s hurtful.” Bronfman said during the discussion that “my greatest fear about the law is that it’s a part of something larger, and it’s not just an isolated moment. I truly fear the wave of nationalism around Europe as a whole.”
Other activities at the 5-day summit included leadership development sessions, learning about different approaches to crowdfunding and fundraising for non-profits, open space sessions with a goal of experience sharing, a session about community engagement between conferences, visiting the new POLIN museum which presents the history of the Polish Jews, and many more.
Founder of Limmud FSU Chaim Chesler said: “The goal of the Summit is to enable activists and volunteers to meet colleagues and to share knowledge and experience in an atmosphere of joint learning and study.” Sandy Cahn, the co-founder, added that the summit was taking place “with the aim of reinforcing identity, cultural, intellectual and spiritual engagement among the organization’s key personnel.”
“There were the most meaningful, emotional and educational 5 days”, said Irina Kolomey from West Coast, “I can’t believe how much we did and how little sleep we’ve got. I’ve had a chance to meet and interact with the most interesting people of similar background, working on similar project, thinking about the same issues. I actually made it to the summit in the last minute. And every night this week, as I came back to my room, I would say to my roommate – I can’t believe I could’ve missed it!”
The entrepreneur and philanthropist, Aaron G. Frenkel, President of Limmud FSU, said during the ceremony: "I light this torch in memory of my family members - grandmothers and grandfathers, aunts and uncles, daughters and sons, and to my mother Fruma who was a prisoner here in Auschwitz-Birkenau. May their soul will be bound up in the bundle of life."
International businessman and Chair of the Limmud FSU Steering Committee, Matthew Bronfman, said that his late father, Edgar Bronfman, former President of the World Jewish Congress, had fought for years for the rights of Jewish people worldwide: "I light this torch on behalf of all the volunteers of Limmud FSU, and in the name of the Jewish people who suffered beyond the power of imagination in this very place. I stand here in the shadow of my father who fought long and hard to restore honor and dignity to each and every Jew around the world."
Bronfman and Frenkel were speaking on behalf of 60 Limmud FSU activists and volunteers from the USA, Russia, Israel, Canada, Ukraine, Australia, Belarus, EU and Moldova, who are meeting for the organization’s Global Leadership Summit, that took place in the past weekend in Warsaw.
Limmud FSU’s participation in the “March of the Living” was made possible thanks to its Chairman Shmuel Rosenman and Deputy Chair, Aaron Tamir.
The Chamber was the first museum devoted to the Holocaust in Israel and was established in 1949. The event was initiated by Limmud FSU, together with the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany and March of the Living.
Oskar Schindler died in 1974, and at his request, was buried in the Catholic Franciscan cemetery on Mount Zion, near to the Chamber of the Holocaust. During the first years after its establishment, the Chamber served as a symbolic cemetery, and its walls were covered by survivors with memorial plaques to their destroyed communities.
The event began at the cemetery, with a short ceremony next to Schindler’s grave. The daughter of a Schindler’s list survivor Yaakov Lazar, Lily Haber, who also serves as chairman of Krakow survivors organization, said that "Schindler saved not only 1,200 Jews while endangering his life, but tens of thousands of souls, descendants of the survivors. We must cherish and remember him."
Following the ceremony, a plaque honoring Schindler was unveiled in the Chamber of the Holocaust, and a special candle lightning took place in memory of the victims. Chaim Chesler, Limmud FSU founder and the initiator of the event, said that "the Chamber of the Holocaust is the place where the ashes of 250,000 Jews murdered in the Holocaust were buried, and this is the right place to commemorate one of the greatest Righteous Among the Nations."
Survivors and several senior officials took part in the ceremony, among them representative of the Catholic Franciscan church, Father Alberto(Italy), Vice-President of the Claims Conference in Israel, Shlomo Gur, Chairman of March of the Living, Dr. Shmuel Rosenman, Former Chief Rabbi of Romania Rabbi Menachem Hacohen, Chairman of the Chamber of the Holocaust, Rabbi Yitzhak Goldstein, CEO of Amigur Yuval Frenkel and others.
Holocaust survivor, Bronia Shkolnik (86), said that "this event is very moving - to be here in the State of Israel and to cherish the memory of those people who saved so many souls”.
Shlomo Gur, vice president of the Claims Conference in Israel, said: "The award of the title of Righteous Among the Nations is an atonement to Oscar Schindler, whose memory has been forgotten over the years. The event today is a tribute to the courage he displayed in rescuing the 1,200 Jews, we must continue to remember and not to forget."
The representative of the Catholic Franciscan Church in Israel, Father Alberto (Italy) said during the ceremony that "There is no doubt that Oskar Schindler serves as a symbol for the Righteous Among the Nations, whom we must remember and cherish”.
Rabbi Yitzhak Goldstein, chairman of the Chamber of the Holocaust, said after a prayer in Schindler's memory that "it is not self-evident that so many Jews have come here today to honor Schindler's memory, and this is clear proof of the greatness of his actions.
EILAT, Israel, Dec.18 – Limmud FSU Israel will mark a decade of educational work with young Russian-speaking Jews in the Holy Land with a three-day Jewish volunteer-driven festival of learning in Israel’s southernmost city, Eilat. The dynamic and pluralistic event will gather 2,000 participants and will run starting Thursday through Saturday night (December 21-23, 2017).
The 10th Limmud FSU Israel festival will feature hundreds of lectures, workshops, presentations and discussions by leading figures, including Member of Knesset Yair Lapid (Chairman of “Yesh Atid”), Avi Gabbay (Chairman of “HaMachane HaTzioni ”), Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel David Lau, 20th Chief of Staff of the IDF General Benny (Benyamin) Ganz, Likud’s party member and former minister Gideon Saar , businessman and philanthropist Aaron Frenkel, who is president of Limmud FSU, CEO and Executive-Vice President of the World Jewish Congress Robert Singer, the singers Shlomi Shaban and Marina Maximilian who will perform at the opening ceremony, Professor Zeev Khanin, Dr. Gadi Taub, Holocaust survivor Shlomo Perel, theatre director Mark Rozovsky from Moscow and others.
“Over the past decade, we truly have made a huge impact in Russian-Jewish community in Israel, which is one of the biggest communities in the country,” said Limmud FSU Founder Chaim Chesler. “We’re extremely excited to come back once again to Eilat, one of the world’s most beautiful resort cities, to celebrate our 10th anniversary in Israel with 2,000 young participants, our devoted team of talented volunteers, leading Israeli public figures and dozens of well-known lecturers and experts.”
“The World Jewish Congress, which represents 100 Jewish communities worldwide, is proud to share with Limmud FSU this critical mission of strengthening Jewish identity, community, historical memory, and engagement, both in the Diaspora and the State of Israel,” said CEO and Executive-Vice President of the World Jewish Congress Robert Singer, one of the speakers at the upcoming event. “Just think: Thirty years ago, a gathering like this of Jewish activists from what is now the former Soviet Union would have been impossible. We are in fact one global Jewish community, and we are strongest when we work together and empower one another. The future of the Jewish world depends on us all.”
The first Jews appeared in St. Petersburg right after its foundation in the 18th century. Today it is one of the most vibrant, flourishing Jewish communities in the former Soviet Union, with roughly 100,000 Jews, making it the second-largest Jewish community in Russia. Also, the cultural, social, and religious life in the Jewish community of the city showcases a very active and exciting place to explore with Limmud FSU. Annual conferences, started in 2011, reflect high intellectual caliber and cultural-oriented programming, as one would expect from a Jewish learning festival held in Russia’s cultural capital.
“We are extremely excited to be a part of one of the most vibrant and flourishing Jewish communities in Eastern Europe, with a rich cultural life” saidChaim Chesler,founder ofLimmudFSU, during the conference.
Limmud FSU St. Petersburg featured lectures, workshops, and discussions in the pluralistic spirit of Limmud. “This is our sixth event in Saint Petersburg, which is an important millstone for us and for the entire Jewish community in the area,” said Sandra F. Cahn, co-founder of Limmud FSU.
Euro-Asian Jewish Congress President Mikhail Mirilashvili also congratulated the participants and expressed his commitment to the project: “We are pleased to be active partners of Limmud FSU. EAJC is committed to ensuring that community institutions actively participate in all stages of the event, and that participants would receive information and motivation to become active members of the community life after the conference. In Limmud FSU St. Petersburg this year was just the exact atmosphere, and we’re extremely happy for it”.
The top presenters this year included Linor Goralik, a Russian-speaking flash fiction author, poet and essayist, Elhanan Nir, Israeli poet and laureate of international and Israeli literary honors including: the Wertheim Prize (2008) and the Prime Minister’s Prize (2011), Olga Slov, consul general of the State of Israel, Haim Ben Yacov, executive director of Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, Yana Agmon, regional director of "Nativ" in Russia and Belarus, Dmitry Dikman, senior advisor to the chairman of the board at Genesis Philanthropy Group, Dr. Aaron Weiss from JDC’s FSU Department, Director of the Orthodox Community of Saint Petersburg Rabbi Shaul Brook and more.
"I flew especially to Limmud St. Petersburg to see how it is done in another country,” says Daniel Jezmer, 25, a volunteer from Israel,” I wanted to share experiences and adopt some ideas and initiatives for the Israeli Limmud FSU, which I have been involved in for four years, and also was happy for the opportunity to meet old friends and benefit from the weekend. I was struck by Rami Sherman's lecture about the hostage-taking operation in Entebbe, could not even hope to get personally acquainted and communicate with the participant in this operation, so I’m especially grateful for it. "
Limmud FSU St. Petersburg was made possible thanks to its devoted team of volunteers, led by Yulia Karasik, Natalia Emelyanova, Regina Pritula, Iulia Anokhina, Faina Rokhlina and others. Conference supporters include Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, Genesis Philanthropy Group, JDC, Jewish Religious Community, Nativ, Jewish Culture House ESOD, Russian Jewish Congress, Community of Progressive Judaism “Sha’arey Shalom”.
“The format of Limmud, which is based on the freedom of election of each participant, cannot characterize better the multifaceted modern Israel” says Yana Agmon, regional director of "Nativ" in Russia and Belarus,” and it provides an opportunity to plunge into the realities of modern Israeli society. We are pleased to see how the Jewish community of St. Petersburg acquaints itself with topics related to Israel and meets with Israeli representatives”.
“We’re attracted by existing projects where people are united by their interest in their Jewish roots and history,” said Dmitry Dikman, senior advisor to the chairman of the board at Genesis Philanthropy Group, “In this sense Limmud FSU conferences gather the most relevant audience for us - they unite students, families with children, lecturers and volunteers for several days. If the participants are left with a feeling that they spent an educational and informative weekend, we’re considering our task fulfilled”.
“I feel grateful, and wanted to thank all the volunteers” says Julia Presman, participant at the event, just before the closing ceremony “you can actually see and fell the spark in their eyes”.
Some 800 Jews gathered this weekend (November 17-19) for the first ever Limmud FSU West Coast 2017 conference in the San Francisco Bay Area, the biggest Jewish event geared towards the Russian-speaking Jewish community in the whole region. It took place at Marriott City Center Oakland, after months of work done by a devoted team of young adult volunteers and leadership, and featured an array of more than 100 diverse sessions and speakers from around the world on various subjects, with a special focus on the field of innovation, hi-tech and technology.
The exciting event kicked off on Friday with a ceremony honoring former Secretary of State George P. Shultz, who was deeply involved in the struggle of Soviet Jewry during the 1980’s and 90’s when immigration from USSR was denied. Chairman of the Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky, who spent nine years in Soviet prisons, Israeli Minister of Science and Technology Ofir Akunis and the Claims Conference President Rabbi Julius Berman presented Shultz with an honorary award.
Among the featured presenters at the conference were the Jewish-Ukrainian born WhatsApp founder Jan Koum, with a special Q&A session that was attended by hundreds of the participants, first Jewish astronaut Garrett Reisman, who gave a highly anticipated lecture about his experience in space, Historian Prof. Deborah Lipstadt about Holocaust denial and the rising Antisemitism, Israel’s Consul General to the Pacific North West Shlomi Kofman, Undervud band from Russia, and more.
Another highlight of the event was the launch of a special exhibition “Shimon Peres – Vision and Innovation”, produced by Limmud FSU together with the late president’s family and the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation. Tsvia Walden, Peres’ daughter, curated the exhibition.
“The Russian-speaking Jewish community in the West Coast is flourishing, and this milestone - a record number of participants in our first ever event in the Bay Area – is the proof of it,” said Limmud FSU founder Chaim Chesler, “we also were very honored to be the chosen spot where such exciting events, as the launch of the late President Peres exhibition and honoring George Shultz”.
This event could not have happened without the generous support of Koret Foundation, Jim Joseph Foundation, Fooksman Family Charitable Fund, Genesis Philanthropy Group (GPG), Israeli Consulate General of the Pacific Northwest, World Jewish Congress, Claims Conference, Jewish Community Foundation of East Bay, Ukrainian Jewish Encounter and other donors and partners.
"Our previous West Coast 2016 conference in Los Angeles was such a great experience that the decision to have our next Limmud FSU conference in the Bay area was an easy one”, said the co-founder of Limmud FSU, Sandra Cahn,” and this year’s strong lineup and remarkable attendance is another testimony of the powerful appeal of Jewish learning in a pluralistic, dynamic and engaging environment”.
Leo Hmelnitsky, the chair of Limmud FSU West Coast organizing committee: “I want to thank all volunteers who dedicated countless hours over the last year developing an incredibly rich program and working on all the logistics for the conference. Our main goal was and will continue to be inspiring participants to strengthen their Jewish identity, to learn about and celebrate our heritage, to connect to Israel and many local Jewish organizations, and to ultimately take the next step on their personal Jewish journey.”
Some 950 people are expected to gather over this weekend (October 19-22) for Limmud FSU Ukraine, the biggest event geared towards the Jewish community in the country. The event will take place in Odessa, one of the most important cities of Jewish and Zionist movement’s history in the former Soviet Union. Today there are about 400,000 Jews living in Ukraine, with more than 45,000 in Odessa.
Limmud FSU Ukraine, the dynamic and pluralistic Jewish festival of culture, creativity and learning, will feature an array of more than 180 world-class speakers from around the world on a multitude of subjects ranging from art, to Jewish culture and tradition, literature, music, theater, history, politics, business and lifestyle.
The event will feature an official ceremony and a concert celebrating Bob Dylan, one of the most prominent Jewish composers and musicians of our time. Dylan’s paternal mother, Anna Zimmerman, together with her husband Zigman, emigrated from Odessa to the US in 1910. The event will also include an exhibition on Dylan’s life “Forever young: behind Dylan's revolution and legacy”, created by the Museum of Diaspora in Tel Aviv, and presented by one of its curators, Amitai Achiman.
Special recognition will be given to the 120th anniversary of the First Zionist Congress of 1897, to be celebrated this year, including a concert and several activities relating to the World Zionist Organization, with the participation of WZO Chair, Avraham Duvdevani. A commemorative plaque will be unveiled on the house where the distinguished Hebrew poet, Shaul Tchernichovsky, lived, in the framework of an official ceremony made possible by the efforts of Nativ and WZO.
“The Ukrainian-Jewish community is among the most thriving Jewish communities in the world, while the city of Odessa is one of the most important cities in Jewish history. We confidently expect that this Limmud FSU 11th festival in Ukraine will be an important part in the life of the Jewish community,” said founder Chaim Chesler, “and we look forward to an inspiring gathering, especially the celebration of Bob Dylan’s Jewish roots in Odessa.”
Among the presenters will be Israel's ambassador to Ukraine Eliav Belotserkovsky; Genesis Philanthropy Group (GPG) Vice-President for External Relations and former Israeli Ambassador to Russia, Dorit Golender; Executive Director of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, Haim Ben Yakov; Nativ's countrty director for Ukraine Gennady Polischuk; Director of The Ukrainian Institute for the Study of the Holocaust Tkuma, Igor Shchupak; Board Member of Ukrainian-Jewish Encounter Adrian Karatnycky, popular Russian satirist and writer, Victor Shenderovich, Israeli singer Eric Berman and many more.
This event takes place with the generous support of Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, Genesis Philanthropy Group (GPG), Ukrainian Jewish Encounter (UJE), Nativ, Claims Conference and All-Ukrainian Jewish Congress.
"The key to Limmud's success lies in its unique combination of learning, recreation and communication, which harmoniously unite and create a unique “Limmud” atmosphere, says Osik Axelrod, the Chairman of Limmud FSU Ukraine.
More than 1,500 residents of the city of Sighet in northern Romania marched tonight (Sunday), together with senior officials from Israel and abroad and members of the Jewish community in Romania, in an event commemorating Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. The procession marked the culmination of a unique series of special events held in the city in memory of Wiesel. The events were organized by Limmud FSU and March of the Living in cooperation with the Claims Conference and the World Zionist Organization.
The special procession left Elie Wiesel's home and continued through the city until it reached the railway station from which Wiesel, his family and Jews from the entire region were sent to the Auschwitz death camp. This was the same route taken by the Jews, including the Wiesel family, in May 1944. During the ceremony, a memorial plaque was unveiled and the name of the train station was changed to “Elie Wiesel Station. ״
The event was attended by senior figures from Israel and the world, prominent rabbis, politicians and others, including MK Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid Party); Minister of Social Equality Gila Gamliel (Likud); JNF Chairman Danny Atar; Executive President of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany Greg Schneider; President of the Romanian Jewish Community Dr. Aurel Vainer; outgoing Deputy Vice President of the Supreme Court Elyakim Rubinstein; and Dr. Zvi Berkovich, Honorary consul of Romania in Israel, and the Prime Minister's physician.
MK Yair Lapid, who was among the speakers at the unveiling of the memorial plaque at the train station, said: “We came here to pay our respects to the late Elie Weisel, a dear person whose private memory has become the collective memory of an entire people. Elie Wiesel was a close friend of my father's, and I had known him and his work since childhood. We are here to honor him for his contribution to the memory of the Holocaust, the fight against anti-Semitism and his work for the State of Israel. ״
Lapid also referred to the increasing phenomenon of anti-Semitism, particularly in the United States: “I believe that Trump is a true supporter of Israel, but I must admit that I was deeply disappointed by his lack of adequate response to the horrific expressions of anti-Semitism, which remind us all of the darkest periods in history and bring us back to the 1930s in Europe. ״
Minister of Social Equality Gila Gamliel said at the event: “Unfortunately, we still find ourselves having to deal with the hatred of Holocaust deniers and their supporters, the constant manifestation of anti-Semitism and the dangers caused by the ignorance of many. Therefore, it is our duty to continue this struggle waged by Elie Wiesel against hatred, fanaticism, and demons of the past.״
Sandra F. Cahn, co-founder of Limmud FSU said during the event that :” We fulfilled tonight our commitment to Limmud FSU’s mentor, Elie Wiesel, to present the opportunity to the people of Sighet commemorate the memory of its most prominent and admired citizen”.
Dr. Zvi Berkovich, Honorary consul of Romania in Israel, the Prime Minister's physician, and son of Holocaust survivors from the city of Sighetu Marmației, delivered a special message from Prime Minister Netanyahu: “Benjamin Netanyahu deeply appreciated Elie Wiesel and his work. He hopes that events of this kind will be held every year, helping to emphasize the importance of the universal messages Elie Wiesel promoted worldwide - tolerance, brotherhood, and the obligation to remember and never forget”.
Over 300 young Jewish Moldovans gathered yesterday, in Chisinau, Moldova, for a day-long Limmud FSU festival, where they commemorated the life of Elie Wiesel. Limmud FSU Moldova, which is geared towards Russian-speaking Jews, featured an array of world-class programs and international speakers.
The events in Wiesel’s honor took place in the Chisinau Chabad Lubavitch Synagogue, the only local congregation that remains active today in a city that before the Holocaust housed more than 70 synagogues. The Wiesel event included a special Kaddish by Rabbi Zushe Abelsky (the son of the former Chief Rabbi of Moldova Zalman Abelsky), with Rabbi Mandy Axelrod; President of the Jewish Community of Moldova and the Honorary Chair of Limmud FSU Moldova Alexander Bilinkis; Limmud FSU Founder Chaim Chesler; and the man closest to Elie Wiesel for many years and the founder of his archive at Boston University, Dr. Joel Rappel, who delivered the keynote speech.
Limmud FSU Moldova, a dynamic and pluralistic Jewish festival of culture, creativity and learning, proved to be one of the organization’s largest local Jewish gatherings in recent years. The gathering, which took place at the JCC Kedem, included over 60 sessions and 50 speakers from around the world, with workshops and discussions on subjects ranging from art to Jewish culture and tradition, history, politics, academics, business and lifestyles. Limmud FSU Moldova, which was sponsored by the Claims Conference, The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), Nativ, the Jewish Community of Moldova, and others, explored such diverse topics as Jewish views of astrology and superstition, childrearing, demystifying Shabbat, and religious Zionism.
Among the featured presenters were Minister of Culture of Moldova Monika Babuk; Chairman of the Board of the Jewish Museum and Center of Tolerance in Moscow Rabbi Boruch Gorin; popular Russian-Israeli comedian Ilia Akselrod, Director of the Russian Department at the American Jewish Committee (AJC) Sam Kliger, First Secretary of the Israel Embassy in the Republic of Moldova and head of the Israel Cultural Center (Nativ) Mark Basin, and many others. Emmanuil Grinshpun, chair of the board of the Jewish community of Moldova was also in attendance.
“There is no doubt that Limmud FSU has become an important element in the Moldova Jewish community, not just in providing events packed with Jewish content, but also for the many people who have joined us as volunteers working on the planning, programming, logistics and administration of all our events” said Chesler at the opening ceremony. “Through this, we’re happy to be nurturing a new generation of leaders who are creating and revitalizing the Jewish community in Moldova.”
“Since its inaugural conference in Moscow in 2006, Limmud FSU events have attracted more than 50,000 participants in Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Israel, North America, Western Europe and Australia,” said Limmud FSU Co-founder Sandra F. Cahn. “We hope that our conferences in Moldova will continue to bring a spirit of intellectual freedom to young Jews in a liberal, pluralistic, egalitarian, non-demanding and gender-free atmosphere of study – the personification of the Hebrew word ‘Limmud’ in its widest possible sense.”
This Limmud FSU Moldova was made possible by a team of local leaders and volunteers, including Marina Shuster, Kolea Railean, Julia Sheinman and Galina Rybnikova.
Some 1,000 gathered this weekend for Limmud FSU New York, the biggest event geared towards the Russian-speaking Jewish community in the Tri-State area. Yesterday, Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., opened an exhibition on Leonard Cohen’s life and Jewish roots.
Speaking at the conference’s opening ceremony at the Hilton Westchester on Friday, Lowey expressed her support for the State of Israel.
“I sit on the House Appropriations Committee, and I’m a member of the subcommittee that oversees foreign aid,” said Lowey. “We’re just starting the bill for 2018, and the only thing I can be sure of is that the money for Israel – foreign aid and military assistance – will be secure because there's strong bipartisan support and I'm proud of that.”
There are currently an estimated 200,000 Russian Jews in the Tri-State area and 700,000 in the United States. Limmud FSU New York is a dynamic and pluralistic Jewish festival of culture, creativity and learning featuring more than 80 inspiring speakers and 120 panels, workshops and discussions on subjects ranging from art, to Jewish culture and tradition, history, politics, academics, business and lifestyles.
Sponsored by the Koret Foundation and Blavatnik Family Foundation, Limmud FSU New York explored a broad array of topics including Israel in the era of Trump, Jewish views of astrology and superstition, raising children in a diverse world, demystifying Shabbat, and religious Zionism. Top Israeli singer Ninet Tayeb gave a special performance during the tribute to Leonard Cohen.
“Aside form his remarkable musical achievements, Leonard was very much connected to his Jewish identity and roots, making him a role model for Jews across the world,” said Limmud FSU founder Chaim Chesler.
Among the featured presenters were Consul General of Israel in New York Dani Dayan; Member of Knesset Yoel Hasson; UJA-Federation of New York Director of Learning and Development and Jewish Parent Co-Founder Yelena Kutikova; American rabbi and bestselling author Joseph Telushkin; Muslim interfaith activist Nadiya Al-Noor; Abby Stein, the first openly transgender woman raised in the Hasidic community; acclaimed Russian animator Oleg Kuvaev; and many others.
“This inspiring gathering contributes to the incredible vitality of Russian-Jewish life in New York,” said Limmud FSU Co-Founder Sandy Cahn.
Below please find a photo from Limmud FSU New York. Photo credit: Courtesy of Limmud FSU.
Photo #1: (From left) Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., Limmud FSU Founder Chaim Chesler, and Limmud FSU Co-Founder Sandy Cahn at the opening of the Leonard Cohen exhibition at Limmud FSU New York.
Some 1,000 people are expected to gather the weekend of May 12 for Limmud FSU New York, the biggest event geared towards the Russian-speaking community in the area, which will include a ceremony opening an exhibition on Leonard Cohen’s life and Jewish roots.
Currently, there are an estimated 200,000 Russian Jews in the Tri-State area and 700,000 nationally. Limmud FSU New York will take place at the Hilton Westchester and will feature an array of world-class programs and speakers from around the world, including Israel’s minister of tourism, Yariv Levin. Also slated to attend is Representative Nita Lowey.
Limmud FSU New York is a dynamic and pluralistic Jewish festival of culture, creativity and learning featuring more than 80 inspiring speakers and 120 panels, workshops and discussions on subjects ranging from art, to Jewish culture and tradition, history, politics, academics, business and lifestyles.
Sponsored by the Koret Foundation and Blavatnik Family Foundation, Limmud FSU New York will explore a diverse array of topics including Israel in the era of Trump, Jewish views of astrology and superstition, raising children in a diverse world, demystifying Shabbat and religious Zionism. Top Israeli singer Ninet Tayeb will give a special performance during the tribute to Leonard Cohen.
Among the featured presenters will be acclaimed Russian animator Oleg Kuvaev; Consul General of Israel in New York Dani Dayan; Stand-up comedians Dmitry Romanov and Igor Meerson; UJA-Federation of New York Director of Learning and Development and Jewish Parent Co-Founder Yelena Kutikova; American rabbi and bestselling author Joseph Telushkin; Muslim interfaith activist Nadiya Al-Noor; Founder and director of “Eralash” TV show Boris Grachevskii; Abby Stein, the first openly transgender woman raised in the Hasidic community; and many others.
“The New York Russian-speaking Jewish community is thriving and going from strength to strength and Limmud FSU New York has become an integral part of this exciting growth,” said Limmud FSU founder Chaim Chesler. “We look forward to an inspiring gathering that will contribute to the incredible vitality of Russian-Jewish life in New York,” said Limmud FSU co-founder Sandy Cahn.
Limmud FSU New York was made possible by the generous support of UJA- Jewish Federation of New York and the Genesis Philanthropy Group (GPG), and the help of local volunteers, including Ilya Bratman, Valerie Khmelnitsky and Roman Sidler.
“Limmud FSU New York grows by leaps and bounds each year. We are already sold out for the weekend and have a waiting list,” said Limmud FSU US Project Manager Noam Shumakh-Khaimov.
Despite high tensions between the United States and Russia, Moscow’s Jewish community will gather for the largest-ever festival for Russian-speaking Jews in the former Soviet Union. More than 2,500 will attend Limmud FSU’s 11th conference in Moscow, April 20-23.
Keynote speakers at the conference will include Russia’s chief rabbi, Berel Lazar and Israel’s minister of justice, Ayelet Shaked. The event will include more than 250 workshops, roundtables and activities for children, and 12 lectures each hour on topics ranging from Jewish history, to politics, to cooking, and more.
“The expected record turnout is evidence that Jewish life is thriving in Russia,” said Limmud FSU Founder Chaim Chesler. “It warms my heart to see how proudly and openly Russian’s Jews celebrate their Jewish identities, which they have worked hard to define for themselves in the years in the years since the fall of the Soviet Union. Moscow’s Jewish community is here to stay.”
Other speakers and presenters at the conference will include Israeli Ambassador to Russia Gary Koren; former Israeli Ambassador to Russia Dorit Golender, who is vice president of Genesis Philanthropy Group (GPG); American musician Joshua Nelson; film director Kirill Serebrennikov, who is artistic director of The Gogol center in Moscow; acclaimed Russian writer Eduard Uspensky; world-leading Kaballah teacher Eliyahu Yardeni, who heads the Moscow Kabbalah Center; Nazi hunter and historian Ephraim Zuroff; and Limmud FSU President Aaron Frenkel.
The conference will also celebrate the centennial of the Habima Theatre, Israel’s national theater and one of the first Hebrew-language theaters, which launched in Moscow in 1917. Attending to commemorate the 100th anniversary will be acclaimed Israeli actor Shmuel Atzmon-Wircer, Israeli theater and film composer Avi Benjamin, and Russian-Israeli Habima actress Evgenia Dodina.
This Limmud FSU Moscow is made possible by its team of local leaders and volunteers, including Limmud FSU Moscow Project Manager Anna Adamskaya, Mikhail Libkin, Alexandra Livergant, Alexander Piatigorskiy, and others.
The Chief Rabbi of Russia Berel Lazar told the Limmud FSU Moscow conference today that Russian President Vladimir Putin has done more for the Jewish community in Russia including fighting anti-Semitism than any other Russian leader.
Rabbi Lazar, addressing more than 2,000 Jews at the Limmud FSU (former Soviet Union) “FSU Study” conference today, said: “Putin was the first president to publicly speak out against anti-Semitism and did the most for the Jews in Russia. There is no institutional anti-Semitism in Russia. The attitude toward the Jews in Russia is excellent.”
Referring to Putin, the rabbi compared him favorably with previous Russian leaders. “In contrast to Gorbachev and Yeltsin, who were not interested in hearing about the situation of the Jews in Russia, Putin was the first to say that anti-Semitism has no place in Russia. He was the first to speak publicly against anti-Semitism, and did the most for the Jews in Russia. This is not self-evident, nor is it obvious that there can be a conference in Russia today like the study of FSU with more than 2,000 Jews.”
Regarding recent anti-Semitic statements by Russian parliamentarians, Lazar said, “It's just a drop in the ocean. These statements are of course inappropriate, but they are not the end of the world either. Our goal is to have a finger on the pulse and raise the issues on the political level in order to protect the Jewish community. We must cooperate with the government as long as it protects us.”
On a more amusing note, Lazar referred to the Russian authorities’ policy of banning the popular Pokemon Go mobile phone game in religious institutions. “If anyone finds Pokemon in our synagogues, we will be glad.”
Lazar also warned that French Jews should leave that country if nationalist presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, who is leading in current polls, should win the election. “The situation in Europe is very worrying. If Marine Le Pen is elected president of France, the Jews must leave,” he said.
He also voiced general concern about the rise of nationalism across Europe. “The situation there is very worrying. Not only because of immigrants, but also because the general population is heading toward radicalization. The best example of this is the rise of extreme-right parties.”
When asked about recent media reports linking President Donald Trump and Chabad, Lazar said: “I do not like that people are intentionally looking for ties between Trump and Chabad or between Trump and the Jews in general. The only thing I can say it, it’s excellent that Ivanka Trump is Jewish, and that Trump’s grandchildren are Jewish too, but I have nothing to add beyond that.”
Before the U.S. presidential election, Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner visited the grave of the late Lubavitch Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, in Queens, N.Y. The site is popular among Orthodox Jews seeking a blessing and inspiration.
Lazar also defended Putin for his role in supporting Syrian President Bashir Assad. “It is not certain that there are better options for Syria than Assad. The Arab spring did not produce positive results. It seems that the Arab countries are not yet ready to accept the rule of democracy.”
Attached please find photos of Rabbi Lazar at the Limmud FSU conference in Moscow. Photo Credit: Limmud FSU.
A century after the U.K. declared its support for the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Israel, the current Lord Balfour expressed pride in his great-grandfather’s “humanitarian act,” as Jewish leaders from around the world and some 700 Russian-speaking Jews from 18 European countries gathered in Windsor this weekend for the first-ever Limmud FSU (former Soviet Union) Europe regional conference in the U.K.
The Limmud FSU Europe conference featured a special centennial celebration of the Balfour Declaration. The declaration, dated Nov. 2, 1917, was sent from U.K. Foreign Secretary Lord Arthur James Balfour to Baron Lionel Walter Rothschild, and expressed the U.K.’s support for the establishment of a homeland for the Jewish people in Israel.
Reacting to the celebration, Arthur Balfour’s great-grandson, Lord Roderick Balfour, who had never before made a public statement about the declaration, said in a letter: “My family is very proud of the importance to Jewish people everywhere of this initiative by the British government of the day. The relevance to you all here today is that the imperative for it stemmed from the appalling Russian pogroms at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. Thus, and this is what we are most proud of, the declaration was first and foremost a humanitarian act trying to repatriate a talented but much-persecuted people to the land of the original Judaic roots.”
Speaking at the conference about a report issued last week by the London-based Community Security Trust (CST) that anti-Semitic hate crimes are at an all-time high in the U.K., American historian Deborah Lipstadt said: “Holocaust denial is one manifestation of anti-Semitism. There are hardcore Holocaust deniers – who are easy to fight, using facts – and then there is soft-core Holocaust denial. Take, for example, the recent White House statement that failed to recognize Jewish victims of the Holocaust. These sorts of attempts to be ‘inclusive,’ as Trump spokesperson Hope Hicks put it, take the Jewish identity away from the Holocaust. This is a form of Holocaust denial.”
“The CST report is particularly disturbing because there was no single trigger event – such as Israel’s 2014 operation in Gaza – this past year,” said Jonathan Arkush, the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews. “This increase in anti-Semitic incidents is a result of the populism surrounding Brexit – in the same way that Donald Trump’s election exposed deep-seated anti-Semitic and other hateful sentiments in America.”
Limmud FSU Europe marked the first time in its decade-long history that Limmud FSU was not geared toward Russian-speaking Jews of a specific city or country. More than 250,000 Russian-speaking Jews currently reside in Europe, making it one of the world’s largest Russian-speaking Jewish communities.
The U.K. conference featured more than 100 lectures, workshops, presentations and discussions by leading figures including British members of Parliament; Israeli members of Knesset; former Ambassador of Israel to the U.N. Ron Prosor; Chief Rabbi of Russia Berel Lazar; Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Executive Vice Chairman Malcolm Hoenlein; Genesis Philanthropy Group President and CEO Ilia Salita; American businessman and philanthropist Matthew Bronfman, who is chairman of Limmud FSU’s international steering committee; and Limmud FSU President Aaron Frenkel.
“This unprecedented continental gathering brought together major Jewish leaders and the Russian-speaking Jewish communities of Europe to celebrate the Balfour Declaration, which paved the way for the formation of the modern State of Israel,” said Limmud FSU Founder Chaim Chesler and Co-Founder Sandy Cahn. “Our first extra-territorial Limmud FSU was also our first nomadic conference, convening Russian-speaking Jews from across Europe in the continent’s informal capital.”
Limmud FSU Europe was held in partnership with the Genesis Philanthropy Group (GPG), a private foundation with the mission of developing and enhancing a sense of Jewish identity among Russian-speaking Jews around the world. For more information about GPG, please visit: www.gpg.org.
One hundred years after the U.K. declared its support for the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people, Jewish leaders from across the world and more than 650 Russian-speaking Jews from more than 20 European countries will gather in Windsor for the first-ever Limmud FSU (former Soviet Union) Europe regional conference in the U.K., Feb. 3-5.
Limmud FSU Europe is the first extra-territorial Limmud and this U.K. conference will feature more than 100 lectures, workshops, presentations and discussions by leading figures including British members of Parliament; Israeli members of Knesset; Ambassador of Israel to the U.K. Mark Regev; former Ambassador of Israel to the U.N. Ron Prosor; American historian Deborah Lipstadt, best known for her book “Denying the Holocaust”; Chief Rabbi of Russia Berel Lazar; World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder; Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Executive Vice Chairman Malcolm Hoenlein; Genesis Philanthropy Group President and CEO Ilia Salita; American businessman and philanthropist Matthew Bronfman, who is chairman of Limmud FSU’s international steering committee; Limmud FSU President Aaron Frenkel; Ukraine-born American businessman, investor and philanthropist Len Blavatnik; Russian actor and playwright Veniamin Smekhov; French artist and co-founder of the Soviet Pop (Sots) Art movement Erik Bulatov; Russian TV presenter and journalist, Vladimir Pozner; Grigory Tshatrishvili, the French writer who uses the famous pseudonym Boris Akunin; and others.
The Balfour Declaration, dated Nov. 2, 1917, was sent from U.K. Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour to Baron Lionel Walter Rothschild, and expressed the support for the establishment of a homeland for the Jewish people in Israel. The text was incorporated into the Sevres peace treaty with the Ottoman Empire and the Mandate for Palestine.
The Limmud FSU Europe conference will include a centennial celebration of the declaration.
“This unprecedented continental gathering will bring together major Jewish leaders and the Russian-speaking Jewish communities of Europe celebrate the Balfour Declaration, which paved the way for the formation of the modern State of Israel,” said Limmud FSU Founder Chaim Chesler and Co-Founder Sandy Cahn. “Our first extra-territorial Limmud FSU will also be our first nomadic conference, convening Russian-speaking Jews from across the Europe in the continent’s informal capital.”
This continental gathering marks the first time in its decade-long history that Limmud FSU is not geared toward Russian-speaking Jews of a specific city or country. More than 250,000 Russian-speaking Jews currently reside in Europe, making it one of the world’s largest Russian-speaking Jewish communities.
Limmud FSU Europe is being held in partnership with the Genesis Philanthropy Group (GPG), a private foundation with the mission of developing and enhancing a sense of Jewish identity among Russian-speaking Jews around the world. For more information about GPG, please visit: www.gpg.org.
The conference is possible thanks to Limmud FSU Europe Chairman Semyon Dovzhik, and Limmud FSU Europe project manager Tatiana Pashaeva. Limmud FSU Europe volunteer teams consists of 30 U.K.-based members and 20 “ambassadors” in European countries including Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, and others.
“Limmud FSU Europe is a unique platform, uniting Russian-speaking Jews from different communities and backgrounds,” said Dovzhik. “Russian-European Jews see Limmud FSU as an outstanding opportunity to reconnect with their Jewish roots and preserve their cultural heritage. This is why the idea of Limmud speaks to people who previously declined any involvement with Jewish communities. Despite the current political climate in Europe, Limmud FSU continues to bring people together.”