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Russian-Armenians hold conference based on Limmud format

JTA

June 1, 2015 6:54am

More than 300 Russian-Armenians attended a conference in Moscow inspired by the Limmud format for Jewish learning events.

Titled Lsaran – the Armenian-language translation for Limmud, or learning – the event last week was the first time that non-Jews held a conference based on the format outside the United Kingdom, where the first Limmud took place more than 30 years ago, a Limmud International spokesman told JTA.

In preparing for the event, the Lsaran organizing team attended several conferences organized in Moscow by Limmud FSU, which puts on Limmud conferences across the former Soviet Union and beyond as a means to connect Russian-speaking Jewish communities and strengthen their ties to Israel.

“Young Armenians living in Moscow had few cultural frameworks to connect them and create a community,” said Evgenia Teryan, a Lsaran organizer. “We looked to the Jewish community, which has so much similarities to ours, for a model to change that and we found it in Limmud FSU.”

In March, Teryan expected approximately 200 participants, “but rumor got out on Facebook and a lot of people signed up at the last minute,” said Tatiana Pashaeva, Limmud FSU’s project manager in Russia, who helped the Lsaran founding committee design the event and attended along with several other Limmud FSU organizers.

Like Limmud conferences, Lsaran featured lectures, activities and concerts. Two of the lectures were about the Armenian genocide a century ago.

Unlike Limmud FSU, which has staff and some core funding for activities, Lsaran was entirely volunteer-based. Organizers paid approximately $4,600 from their own pockets and are now looking for donors and sponsors from the Armenian community in Russia to cover the expense and help make Lsaran an annual event.