More than 550 young Russian-speaking Jews from throughout Ukraine, Russia, Moldova, Belarus and elsewhere, will be descending on the Black Sea port city of Odessa, Ukraine, on Monday 11 October for a three-day experience of Jewish learning, culture, social interaction, Jewish identity and peoplehood.
Odessa is famous in the Jewish world as the home city of such luminaries as Zeev Jabotinsky, Chaim Nahman Bialik, Isaac Babel, Menachem Ussishkin, Meir Dizengoff, Shalom-Aleichem, Ahad ha-Am, Shimon Dubnov and many others – including three Nobel prizewinners – Ilya Menchnikov, (medicine 1908), Selman Waksman (medicine 1953), Boris Pasternak (literature, 1958). Odessa has a reputation not only as a hothouse of literary icons and its own inimitable brand of Jewish humor, but also as a breeding ground for Zionism. It was referred to as the “Gateway to Zion” because it was a major point of embarkation to pre-state Israel. This Limmud FSU conference – the first in Odessa but the third in Ukraine – will offer three packed days of lectures, workshops, seminars, discussions, dance, music and crafts, led by some 60 presenters from Israel, Ukraine, Russia and US.
The conference will also be attended by a distinguished group of senior Israeli journalists who will be holding round table discussions together with the participants, on current issues and on the situation of Israel and Jews in the contemporary world. They include Motti Sklar, Director of the Israel Broadcasting Authority, Yoav Zur, Chief Editor of Ma’ariv, Leonid Blechman, Director of Israel Television’s Channel Nine in Russian, Yitzhak Tunik, Commander of Galei Zahal, the commentator Gil Litman and several others.
Other guest speakers include Zina Kalay-Kleitman, Israel’s ambassador to Ukraine, Dr Nona Kuchina and Moshe Shneerson of “Dr Nona International”, the medical and cosmetics conglomerate, Diane Wohl, a prominent New York Jewish activist and top Odessa city officials. Entertainment will be provided in the form of a lavish and spectacular sound and light performance, “Shalom Limmud Odessa” at the Concert and Exhibition Complex of Odessa Seaport, with top Ukrainian singers, actors and performers, including the Odessa State Philharmonic Orchestra, and guest artist, the world-famous Israeli jazz virtuoso, Leon Ptashka.
This is the final of the Limmud FSU events for 2010, which have taken place in Truskavets (Western Ukraine), Moscow, Jerusalem and New York. Planning is full speed ahead for 2011, with probable Limmud events for young Russian-speaking Jewish adults in Moscow, Ukraine, Minsk (Belarus), and St. Petersburg (Russia), as well as in the United States and Israel.