SYDNEY, Sept. 20 – Israeli Minister of Environmental Protection Zeev Elkin told Limmud FSU Australia that the organization is playing a critical role in connecting the Russian-speaking Jewish community to the larger Australian Jewish community at the first-ever Limmud FSU Australia festival in Sydney this past weekend. Hundreds of Jews convened to hear him speak and partake in the festival’s activities.

“The Russian-speaking community has been facing problems connecting with the broader Jewish community here in Australia,” said Elkin, the keynote speaker, who immigrated to Israel from the former Soviet Union. “Limmud FSU, which comes as an outsider, successfully reaches out to both communities and plays an important role in bridging this gap.”

The festival, which was held at the Novotel Sydney Manly Pacific, was organized by Limmud FSU together with the support of the Zionist Federation of Australia, the Jewish National Fund (KKL), the World Zionist Organization and the Triguboff Foundation. Limmud FSU Australia is a cultural, educational, communal, and social experience shaped by the Australian Jewish community.

Also speaking was Israel’s ambassador to Australia, Shmuel Ben Shmuel. “Australia is home to 130,000 Jews, of whom 35,000 speak Russian,” he said. “Limmud FSU is both a wonderful resource for connecting these communities and for strengthening Zionism, which is paramount in the Australian Jewish community. By connecting Russian-speaking Jews to the Australian-Jewish community, Limmud FSU is also connecting them to Israel.”

“We have experienced an outpouring of participants, which is the best evidence that Jewish life is thriving in Australia,” said Limmud FSU founder Chaim Chesler and Co-founder Sandy Cahn. “We are witnessing a new era of Russian-speaking Jews who have become completely independent and have defined the framework of Jewish life on their own, and for themselves. Australia’s Russian-Jewish community is proud and here to stay.”
Limmud FSU Australia featured a performance from star Israeli performer Hemi Rudner, one of the most respected musicians in the Israeli rock scene. Notable presenters included Rami Teplitskiy, the Shaliach (Israel emissary) of Kangarusski, the Russian-speaking Jewish community in Australia; Arthur Marx, a therapist and author; jazz singer and klezmer diva Fay Sussman; Efim Novikov, renowned designer, artist, inventor and teacher; former Israel Defense Forces infantry Capt. Ilan Maylis, who served 15 years and currently resides in Australia; Rabbi Yoram Ulman, senior dayan on the Sydney Bet Din and the founder of F.R.E.E (Friends of Refugees of Eastern Europe) Synagogue and the Jewish Centre in Bondi Beach; attorney and member of the prestigious New York and Israel Bar Associations Shahar Alon; Holocaust survivor Eddie Jaku, who told his incredible story of survival from Buchenwald and Auschwitz, a death march and months of hiding; and many others.

This Limmud FSU festival was organized a team of local volunteers and could not have happened without the leadership of Rami Teplitskiy and Anna Maylis.

Photo credit: Studio 7.

At the gala opening. Second left - Israeli Ambassador Shmuel Ben Shmuel. Second right - Ron Weiser, Past President of ZFA

(From left) Limmud FSU Executive Director Roman Kogan; Israeli Ambassador to Australia Shmuel Ben Shmuel; Israeli Minister of Environmental Protection Zeev Elkin; Limmud FSU Founder Chaim Chesler; Zionist Federation of Australia President Emeritus Ron Weiser; and jazz singer Fay Sussman at the gala opening of Limmud FSU Australia.