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LIMMUD FSU ROCKS SYDNEY

Some of the participants at last weekend’s Limmud FSU in Manly.Some of the participants at last weekend’s Limmud FSU in Manly.

BORSCHT, vodka and a host of local and international presenters … just some of the items on the agenda at Sydney’s first-ever Limmud FSU (former Soviet Union) conference, held last weekend.

Around 250 people from across Australia attended the festival at Novotel Sydney Manly Pacific, which comprised thought-provoking discussions, musical performances, social activities and fun for the kids.

Guests included Israeli Minister of Environmental Protection and Minister of Jerusalem Ze’ev Elkin, Israeli ambassador Shmuel Ben-Shmuel and Deputy Mayor of Ashkelon, Boris Manor.

The event’s MC, Kiev-born Alex Ryvchin, said Limmud FSU is a “testament to how far we’ve come and to how free we are”.

“What a triumph that after everything that we have endured, that no pogrom, no Babi Yar, no Doctors’ Plot could break our spirit or take away our essence as Jews,” Ryvchin said.

Speaking to The AJN, Ben-Shmuel said Limmud FSU helps to bring former Soviet Jews in different parts of the world together, “to be part of a community and to mingle with the larger established Jewish community in Australia”.

Limmud FSU made its Australian debut last year, with hundreds descending on Lorne, Victoria, for the two-day festival.

Founder Chaim Chesler told The AJN he was “very pleased” with this year’s event.

“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.”

Anna Maylis, ZFA Kangarusski coordinator, said the conference was “incredibly successful”, and “allowed us to celebrate our Russian Jewish identity”.

“It showcased the talent of our FSU community and enabled dedicated Jewish learning,” she said.

Describing Limmud FSU as a “phenomenal event”, project manager Tatiana Shvartsman added, “We had an amazing line-up of presenters, volunteers, and participants. I am so incredibly proud of the progress that we are making with Limmud FSU in Australia.”

The conference featured a performance from Hemi Rudner, one of the most respected musicians in the Israeli rock scene.

Notable presenters included Rami Teplitskiy, the shaliach of Kangarusski; Arthur Marx, a therapist and author; jazz singer and klezmer diva Fay Sussman; Efim Novikov, renowned designer, artist, inventor and teacher; and former IDF infantry Captain Ilan Maylis, who served 15 years and currently resides in Australia.

The event also featured Rabbi Yehoram Ulman, senior dayan on the Sydney Beth Din, and Holocaust survivor Eddie Jaku, who told his incredible story of survival from Buchenwald and Auschwitz, a death march and months of hiding.

EVAN ZLATKIS