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YOUNG RUSSIAN-SPEAKING JEWISH AMERICANS, MORE THAN 400 STRONG, JOIN FORCES FOR “A TASTE OF LIMMUD”
Figures from Philanthropy, Education, Jewish Organizations and Government Join Young Russian-Speaking Jews at First-Ever Limmud FSU Event in U.S.
Westhampton Beach, NY – Aug. 9, 2009 – More than 400 young Russian-speaking Jewish Americans gathered in force here today for A Taste of Limmud: 150 Years of Shalom Aleichem, a unique day of education, community-building, networking and entertainment designed to enhance and strengthen Jewish identity, involvement and community leadership.
A Taste of Limmud was the first-ever Limmud FSU event in the United States, and participants from throughout the New York area exchanged ideas, thoughts and perspectives with more than 80 educators, lecturers and expert panelists at 35 sessions covering a wide variety of subjects, from anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial, to Russian-Jewish cooking and dance, to Muslim-Jewish relations and Iran’s nuclear ambitions.
Among the presenters were prominent philanthropists, scholars and educators, communal leaders, American officials and high-ranking Russian-Israeli ministers and Knesset members who joined participants at formal panels and informal gatherings as they explored their backgrounds and futures as engaged and active members and leaders in the Jewish community.
“Wherever I am, I meet young Russian Jews like yourselves who are hungry to connect with their heritage, anxious to study the issues facing the world and the Jewish community, wanting to create a brotherhood with each other, and to walk into the future as leaders who can make a mark and a difference in their own neighborhoods and in the world,” said Matthew Bronfman, Limmud FSU International Steering Committee Chairman, at the day’s opening event.
“And that is what Limmud FSU and the Limmud movement is all about. Because here you can gain the knowledge, and the confidence, and the abilities, and the connections to achieve your goals.”
The one-day event, which took place on the grounds of The Hampton Synagogue in Westhampton Beach and was hosted there by Rabbi Marc Schneier, was dedicated to famed Yiddish author Shalom Aleichem on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of his birth. His granddaughter, 98-year-old author Bel Kaufman, linked his legacy with the Limmud FSU mission in an address to participants.
“He would have been so pleased to have stood here in my place and to see you, dedicated and devoted to Yiddishkeit,” she said.
Presenters included such well-known and accomplished figures as Yoram Dori, senior advisor to Israeli President Shimon Peres; Ze’ev Elkin, member of the Israeli Knesset; Feliks Frenkel, chairman of the Council of Jewish Émigré Community Organizations (COJECO) and honorary co-chair of the event; David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee and expert on international affairs; Fania Kirshenbaum, member of the Israeli Knesset; Jerry Levin, chair of the board of UJA-Federation of New York and honorary co-chair of the event; Dr. Deborah Lipstadt, Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies at Emory University; Sofa Landver, Israeli Minister of Immigrant Absorption; Leon Litinetsky, former Israeli Knesset member; U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler; Michael Schneider, Secretary General of the World Jewish Congress; and Rabbi Marc Schneier of the Hampton Synagogue and founder and president of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding. (Editors Note: A full program and speaker list is at www.limmudfsu.org)
“Limmud FSU is creating connections between people and there is no knowing where that will lead,” Elkin said.
An organizing committee comprised of more than 40 young adult Jewish volunteers from the Russian-American community designed the program and all aspects of the day, from logistics to entertainment, underscoring a key value of the Limmud movement, volunteerism. Co-chairing A Taste of Limmud were Yigal Kotler and Biana Shilshtut, both of New York.
A Taste of Limmud brought young Russian-speaking Jewish Americans, many of them leaders or potential leaders in the community, together to connect and explore potent, relevant issues in a pluralistic, welcoming environment, officials said, strengthening Jewish peoplehood.
“Limmud is a wonderful vehicle to bring young Jews together,” said Moshe Vigdor, Director General of the Jewish Agency for Israel. “It is amazing and gratifying to see a group of young people eager to know about Judaism and their heritage, and a wide array of subjects that have links to Judaism and Israel. This helps to ensure that we remain as one people as we continue into this new century.”
In a spirit of open dialogue, the Limmud model encourages participants, volunteers, and presenters to engage in an active journey that combines Jewish learning, thought, and practice in many forms and venues.
Limmud FSU brings together and empowers young Russian-speaking Jewish adults who are reviving and revitalizing Jewish community and culture and restoring and maintaining the tradition of lifelong Jewish learning and a strong Jewish identity. Dynamic events, seminars, lectures, workshops and discussions focus on an enormous range of topics from social and political trends within Jewish communities and around the world to Israeli politics; from dilemmas to Jewish cooking; from traditional texts to Jewish theatre. This successful and unique model of informal Jewish learning in a pluralistic setting, combined with volunteerism, networking, empowerment and leadership development, is ensuring a vibrant and sustainable Jewish future. www.limmudfsu.org