Nearly a hundred Russian-speaking Jewish young adults from across the US gathered outside San Francisco over President’s Day weekend for the fourth bi-annual “Mitbachon,” a retreat which focuses on learning, networking and community building.
Participants were Jewish young adults, ages 25-35, who were born in the former Soviet Union and immigrated to the US in the 1990s as children or teens participated; the retreat was organized by emissaries of Jewish Agency for Israel who work with FSU Émigré community in North America, in partnership with local Federations. This year’s theme, Jewish Peoplehood, explored the subject in ways familiar to the audience, including sessions such as: Immigrant Jews and the Burden of Memory, Cultural Schizophrenia, and Reclaiming Creative Space: Russian Artists in Aliyah.
“Mitbachon” which means kitchenette in Hebrew, refers to a space in a house where people gather for cooking, eating and discussion. The retreat is significant because it brings this demographic of young adults together on a national level. There are an estimated 750,000 Jews from Russian speaking families living today in North America.
“The Jewish Agency has been involved with the Russian community in North America for more than half a decade,” said Maxyne Finkelstein, CEO of the Jewish Agency – North America. “For many Russian-speakers, Israel forms the focal point of their Jewish identity and we, through our Russian-Israeli emissaries, are able to act as a bridge between Israel and local Jewish cultural identity so that these young adults feel they are part of a larger community.”