Former Prisoner of Zion Yosef Mendelevitch Makes Emotional Return to the City Where He Was Arrested

Photo by Roman Yanushevsky, ourtesy of Limmud FSU.

St. Petersburg, Russia, Nov. 30 - Former Prisoner of Zion Yosef Mendelevitch made an emotional return to the city where he was imprisoned in the 1970s to join hundreds of Jews from across Russia for the 4th Annual Limmud FSU program in St. Petersburg this weekend. The three-day Jewish learning festival featured a packed program of lectures, workshops, round-table discussions, music and a wide-range of cultural events. With about 100,000 Jewish residents, St. Petersburg claims the second largest Jewish community in Russia today. Mendelevitch was held in a Soviet prison after being arrested for leading the 1970 “Operation Wedding,” a Soviet Jewish operation to steal a plane from then-Leningrad’s airport and escape to Israel. After gaining his freedom, Mendelevitch made Aliyah to Israel. … [Read more...]

First Limmuds for Israel’s Red City and Uruguay

The first day of summer vacation and brilliant beach weather notwithstanding, 140 participants from secular to Chabad gathered in Montivideo for the first “Taste of Limud Uruguay.”
 Photo courtesy David Telias.

By Martin Joseph Haifa, known as Israel’s Red City for its staunchly secular, socialist orientation, saw its first Limmud learning festival in mid-November. Over 200 participants, ranging in age from 12 to 85 and representing Haifa’s Jewish spectrum, chose from sessions on wine tasting and Israeli comedy, a Bible contest and chavruta dialogue, among others. "Limmud Haifa embodies this city’s spirit of Jewish renewal," Deputy Mayor Shay Blumenthal told the gathering as he thanked the volunteers. Haifa’s Department of Education has been promoting Jewish renewal within the school system for the last six years. “We reach the pupils in school, but Limmud brings the Jewish renewal experience to the general public,” Ilana Trock, Haifa education department director and chair of Jewish renewal … [Read more...]

Limmud FSU Lvov – 1st Look

Havdalah

A sold-out four-day conference of Limmud FSU Ukraine is taking place this weekend in Lviv (historically known as Lvov or Lemburg), the cultural capital of Ukraine. The conference opened with a moment of silence for Ukrainians who have fallen in the country’s ongoing civil conflict. Lvov’s Mayor, Andriy Sadovyi, a rising political persona, attended the opening ceremony in the city’s Center for Science and Technology. Other distinguished guests included Israel’s Ambassador to Ukraine, Eliav Belotserkovsky, and local Jewish communal leaders. The Israeli envoy, noting an exhibition about Ukrainian Jewish history on display during the conference, said the community can serve as a “human bridge” to help build ties between Israel and Ukraine. More than 600,000 Jews from Ukraine have … [Read more...]

Expanding Conferences Help FSU Jews Gain Mainstream Communal Acceptance

Limmud FSU Canada, October 2014; photo by Yossi Aloni.

Despite challenging times, Limmud FSU opened their annual festival in Ukraine today. By Alina Dain Sharon and Sean Savage JNS.org An American Jewish astronaut who learned to speak Russian while training with cosmonauts walks into a lecture hall filled with Russian-American Jews. No, it’s not a priest-and-rabbi-style joke, but a real-life event that exemplifies the spirit of the Limmud FSU educational conferences. At Limmud FSU’s 2010 conference in New York, former NASA astronaut Garrett Reisman addressed the crowd in Russian - to the audience’s delight. Many of the young FSU-immigrant Jews living in the United States still “have a strong cultural affinity for being Russian” and speak Russian when they get together, even though they may live in the same apartment buildings or work in … [Read more...]

Canadian MP Cotler at Limmud FSU Canada: Protect Citizens but Preserve Democracy

Livnat + Toronto

Huntsville, Ontario, Oct. 27 - Canadian Member of Parliament Irwin Cotler said the country needs to toughen security measures against terrorism, while preserving the nation’s democratic freedoms. Cotler addressed the recent terror attacks in Canada in remarks to some 500 Russian-speaking Jews participating in the inaugural Limmud FSU Canada. Cotler, a Canadian-Jewish leader and human-rights activist served as the honorary chair of the weekend program. “Canada is a country that takes pride in its openness, freedom and democracy, but at this point, the Canadian government needs to take the right measures to ensure that it remains not only peaceful but also secured in a way that we combat the threats,” said Cotler. “Security has to be expanded, but not at the expense of freedom. We need to protect … [Read more...]

Limmud FSU Belarus – A First Look

Limmud FSU Belarus 2014 Gala

On Friday morning, 300 kilometers east of Minsk, Limmud FSU's 2nd Belarus Festival (ART Limmud) opened. 700 participants traveled to Vitebsk - the birthplace of Marc Chagall - from various cities around Belarus; they were joined by friends from Russia, Ukraine, Israel and the U.S. The opening gala Friday afternoon was held in the presence of Israel’s Ambassador to Belarus Yosef Shagal; Chair of the Union of Belarusian Jewish Public Organizations Boris Gersten; and Minister of Culture (Vitebsk) Larissa Olinsiya and featured a blend of Israeli and Belarusian entertainment. photos from ART Limmud 2014's Opening Gala by Yossi Aloni … [Read more...]

Limmud FSU Festival Opens Friday in Belarus

Limmud Belarus

Vitebsk, Belarus, Sept. 9 - Over 600 young Jews, mostly professionals 20-40 years old, will come together on Sept. 12-14 in Vitebsk for Limmud FSU, a festival of Jewish learning. There are currently about 70,000 Jews living in Belarus. Limmud FSU Belarus will take place in the hometown of Marc Chagall, at the Vitebsk National Museum of Fine Arts. Limmud FSU Belarus features a packed program of lectures, workshops, round-table discussions, music and a wide range of cultural events, including the opening of an exhibition by artist Alexander Okun. Among the main speakers will be Israeli Ambassador to Belarus Yosef Shagal, Chairman of Belarusian Jewish Organizations and Communities Boris Gersten, renowned Russian Jewish theater director Mark Rozovsky, Director of the Marc Chagall Museum Ludmila … [Read more...]

Living, Learning and Loving Judaism at Limmud FSU Moldova

The Shuk; photo courtesy Ruben Landsberger.

Regardless of what the future may hold, the conference participants, with their black, almost Israeli humor, were engaged and fully aware of what was unfolding before them, which one would not be remiss in describing as almost a miracle - the resuscitation of Jewish life in the barren Soviet Union, which generations of oppression have not succeeded in stamping out. by Erica Schachne Touching down in the grass-lined fields of Moldova’s tiny airport, I had no idea what to expect. I had come to Chisinau, the capital of this landlocked republic, for the weekend of May 23-25 to attend the Limmud FSU conference, the festival of Jewish learning celebrating the rebirth of Judaism’s foothold in the former Soviet Union. I had heard great things about this dynamic “Jewish Woodstock,” which … [Read more...]