First Man to Walk in Space to Appear at Limmud Beersheba

Fom left to right: MK Anastasia Michaeli, Chaim Chesler, the founder and chair
of Limmud FSU, and Deputy Mayor of Beer Sheva, Igal Ovshievich.

May 16, 2011 / 12 Iyar 5771

Limmud FSU Beer Sheva, the educational and cultural festival for Russian speakers, will take place for the first time in the capital of the Negev on 26-27 May, with some 800 participants.

A press conference to launch Limmud Beer Sheva 2011 was held yesterday in the municipality hosted by Deputy Mayor, Igal Ovshievich (himself an immigrant from the Former Soviet Union) with the attendance of MK Anastasia Michaeli, Prof. Viktor Malamud, Director of the Ilan Ramon Youth Physics Center, Lena Lagutina, the presenter of Television Channel Nine, and Chaim Chesler, the founder and chair of Limmud FSU.

They presented the program for this year’s Limmud (the fourth to take place in Israel) which is devoted to the topic Space, Science and Technology, which was especially chosen to mark the 50th anniversary of the first flight in space by the Russian astronaut Yuri Gagarin, in 1961. Among the guests at Limmud will be the cosmonaut Alexei Leonov who was the first man to actually make a space walk. A film was shown in which the cosmonaut extended an invitation to Israelis to participate in Limmud Beer Sheva. Together with Leonov will be Mikhail Kornyenko, another Russian cosmonaut and his partner in space, the American-Jewish astronaut Garrett Reisman. All three space pioneers will be speaking at Limmud.

Earlier this year, Limmud FSU events took place in Moscow (with over 800 participants), and later in the year, other events will take place in Vinnitsa and Odessa in Ukraine, New York, St. Petersburg, and Kishinev in Moldova.

The Beer Sheva Festival will take place in two venues: The Lillian and Larry Goodman Theater and Acting School of the Negev, and the Beer Sheva Center for the Performing Arts.
Some 800 Russian speakers are expected to attend the two day Festival who will have to choose between a packed program of lectures, panel discussions, workshops, round-table meetings, exhibits, film showings, artistic performances, and much more, given by some 60 presenters from all over the country. Among the speakers will be Silvan Shalom, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for the Development of the Negev and Galilee; Yuli Edelstein, Minister of Information and the Diaspora, Moshe Arens, past Minister of Defense; Actresses Yevgeniya Dodina and Helena Yarova; journalists Eitan Haber and Yaron Deckel; Gil Hovav speaking about his great-grandfather Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, the popular singer, Maria Maximilian Blumin and other performers. Special visits for participants will be made to the Ilan Ramon Center, the Air Force Museum at Hatzerim and the Old City of Beer Sheva.

MK Michaeli, who has accompanied Limmud since its first event in 2006, said “Limmud is a wonderful project: it unites and brings together thousands of Russian speaking young people in Israel, some of whom may be deliberating whether or not to stay in the country. Thanks to Limmud and other such projects, the link between citizenship and a profound Jewish identity which Limmud propagates is being nourished and encouraged.”

Deputy Mayor Ovshievich emphasized the importance that Beer Sheva places on education. “The population of the city is getting younger, unlike most cities in the country, and Beer Sheva sees itself is the scientific city of the future, with Ben Gurion University, the Soroka Medical Center (the second largest hospital in the country), the Ilan Ramon Center, and the projected new area which is planned to be the country’s central military complex. We were delighted to be approached by Limmud and we see ourselves as a natural venue for this major educational and cultural event. Ilan Ramon himself was born, educated and lived in Beer Sheva; Ben Gurion University has more than 30,000 students and no less than 35 percent of the city’s population are immigrants from the Former Soviet Union.”

Prominent television personality, Lena Lagutina, said that Limmud has a unique and special atmosphere of its own, mainly because of the informal nature of its activities, its pluralism and the breadth of topics it covers. “Each year at Limmud we discover something new and magical. Speaking as a television presenter, more often than not, there is not a lot of good news to present. Limmud is a constant bright spot.