The article by Moria Dash (“Ups and Downs at Limmud FSU St. Petersburg”- Jerusalem Post, 5 October) shows a complete misunderstanding of the purpose of Limmud worldwide, and of Limmud FSU (Former Soviet Union) in particular. Limmud was established in the UK nearly 35 years ago as a grassroots attempt to give Jews a closer insight into Jewish culture, history, identity and religion, in a pluralistic, egalitarian, liberal educational framework over a long and intensive weekend meeting. (And frankly, to provide British Jews with a refuge from the long Christmas holiday atmosphere.) Since then, the Limmud model has been adopted in many countries and languages and is without a doubt one of the most important and revolutionary Jewish educational projects in the world today.
Limmud FSU for Russian speakers started six years ago in Moscow and has since taken place in many venues in Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, the USA and of course, in Israel. It has attracted tens of thousands of mostly young people to its events and as such is a major element in the struggle against assimilation. The allegation by Ms. Dash that Israel is not a central part of Limmud FSU events is completely inaccurate. Every conference (and I have been to many,) has a strong Israeli component, with lectures and presentations on the Arab-Israel conflict, the Middle East in general, and Israeli culture in all its facets. The organization is based in Israel and many of the speakers come from here, but Israel is only one of the many themes under discussion. It would be totally inappropriate and out of place to fly an Israeli flag, which it what your correspondent suggests. Limmud FSU exists to promote Judaism and Jewish identity to those who were deprived of it for 70 long years of Communist rule. Aliya is very much there as a subliminal message for those who are interested, but in this day and age, when people have a free choice, the way to encourage it is by fostering more Jewish identity and knowledge – as does Limmud – and not by ramming it down people’s throat which can only be counter-productive.