Over 800 Young Russian- American Jews Gathered In New Jersey This Past Weekend For Limmud FSU Innovation Conference
By Mel Fabrikant Tuesday, April 01 2014 @ 02:49 PM EDT
Over 800 young Russian-American Jews from across the country came together in Parsippany, NJ, this past weekend, March 28-30, for Limmud FSU (former Soviet Union), the biggest gathering of Russian Jews in North America. Limmud FSU is a festival of Jewish learning featuring a packed program of lectures, workshops, round-table discussions, music and a wide-range of cultural events in three different languages – Russian, English and Hebrew.
There are an estimated 750,000 to 1 million Russian-American Jews in the U.S., with about half living in New York and New Jersey. The entire conference and its content were organized by the young participants from the Russian-Jewish community.
“Limmud FSU has been successfully bringing together nearly a thousand Russian-speaking Jews, who are often described as marginally engaged in Jewish life, for a weekend of Jewish learning and culture for the last five years, “ said Alina Bitel, Chair, Limmud FSU USA. “Russian-speaking Jewish activists debunk the persistent myth of lack of interest in Jewish education and work tirelessly to create a conference for their peers with the understanding of this group’s unique cultural interests and intellectual approach.”
Among the presenters at the conference were leading academics, politicians, writers and artists hailing from the U.S., Israel, Russia and elsewhere. Some of the presenters include: Israeli author Lihi Lapid, Knesset Members Ronen Hoffman and Omar Bar Lev, IFCJ President Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, philanthropist Feliks Frenkel, Eli Itin of Amdocs, Prof. Adam Shwartz - director of Technion - Cornell Innovation Institute, President Peres advisor Yoram Dori, and many other luminaries.
“Limmud FSU has revolutionized pluralistic Jewish engagement of Russian-speaking Jews and is making a great impact in strengthening Jewish identity through a unique educational experience of Jewish history and culture,” said Matthew Bronfman, chairman of the International Steering Committee of Limmud FSU, who delivered a session at Limmud. “This initiative also helps to strengthen Jewish communal life among Russian-American Jews by inspiring our participants to be more active in their communities through volunteering.”
Attached, please find photos from the conference. Photo credit to Yossi Aloni.
Photo 22: Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein (white shirt on right) conducts Havdalah ceremony.
Photos 11 and 33: Participants at the event.
About Limmud FSU:
The Limmud phenomenon began in Britain nearly 32 years ago and is now a world-famous educational movement. Limmud FSU, founded eight years ago by Chaim Chesler, former head of JAFI’s delegation in the FSU, and Sandra Cahn, a philanthropist from New York, supports and reinforces Jewish education and identity to Jews from the FSU, the U.S. and Israel. This unique conference, like all Limmud events, is organized and run entirely by volunteers.