Moscow’s seventh Limmud FSU conference for Russian-speaking Jews opens today at the Klyazma retreat center near Moscow. One of the central themes will focus on Russia as a society undergoing change, both in general and in particular for its Jewish citizens. Limmud FSU conferences are considered to be the most prestigious of Jewish cultural events in the former Soviet Union and one thousand participants have registered to attend, both the largest ever Limmud FSU event in Moscow and, the flagship event on the Limmud FSU calendar.
Chaim Chesler of Limmud FSU, speaking on the eve of the Moscow event, said, “Our dream was to present to the new generation of young Russian-speaking Jews throughout the world, topics which are close to their hearts and excite their imagination, such as Jewish history and culture, Jewish roots and issues of identity, the Holocaust, and subjects relating to achieving success in life both in economic and cultural terms. Evidently the dream has become a reality and promises that the coming event will be yet another memorable occasion.”
The Limmud FSU conference in Moscow is the first event of six planned for 2012. It will be followed by one in Princeton University centering on the life and work of Albert Einstein; a first conference in Kishinev, the capital of Moldova, in June; another will take place in Upper Nazareth in the Galilee in early September [following the Olympic games] and which will celebrate Jewish achievements in the realm of sport and the successful absorption of Russian immigrants to Israeli. A second Limmud FSU in St. Petersburg will take place in September, followed by the Ukrainian festival in Uzhgorod and Munkács on the Ukrainian-Hungarian border and a pre-war major center of Hassidism.
For the Moscow program, a wide variety of lectures, workshops, round-table discussions and presentations will take place simultaneously in eight different halls. Among the many subjects are “The State of Israel – a Land of Minorities”, “Was Nikita Khruschev Anti-Semitic”, “Feminism in Judaism”, “Jewish motives in non-Jewish movies”, “The poetry of Yehuda Amichai and Uri Zvi Greenberg”, and much more. To whet the appetite, there will be discussions on Jewish cuisine, as well as workshops on Jewish crafts, Jewish dance and music, Bible and Talmud, yoga sessions, movie screenings and Shabbat eve celebrations. Prominent presenters include Sofa Landver, Israel’s Minister of Immigrant Absorption, MK Alex Miller, Chair of the Knesset Education and Culture Committee, MK Carmel Shama-Hacohen, Chairman of the Knesset Economic Affairs Committee, and Dorit Golender, Israel’s Ambassador to the Russian Federation.
Like all Limmud FSU events, indeed like all Limmud events around the world, the program design and execution are in the hands of volunteers. The Moscow’s Limmud Organizing Committee include Alexander Pyatigorskiy, Dmitry Maryasis, Mikhail Libkin, Jenya Nemirovskaya and others. The conference is supported by most of the major Jewish organizations, such as the Conference for Jewish Material Claims against Germany, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), the Jewish Agency, Nativ (the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office), the Dutch Humanitarian Fund, the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress and others.
Limmud FSU’s International Steering Committee is chaired by businessman Matthew Bronfman; other prominent members include the two co-founders, the philanthropist Sandra Cahn of New York and Michael Chlenov of Moscow, President of the Federation of Jewish Organizations and Communities of Russia (Vaad) and Secretary-General of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress; as well as leading private philanthropists including Dr. Nona International and Diane Wohl of New York.