Upon learning this morning of one of the new ROI Small Grants being awarded to jewlicious.ru, I asked David Abitbol, aka Mr. Jewlicious, Machane Yehuda resident, friend, and occasional contributor for this guest post on the new jewlicious.ru; it’s in the third person; but here is the original “ck”:
Jewlicious recently announced the creation of Jewlicious.ru – a Russian language version of our popular Jewlicious.com web site. Jewlicious.ru originated as a result of a conversation that began at the 2007 ROI summit between summit participant Tanya Gutsol and David Abitbol, the creator of Jewlicious.com, who was moderating the Content Delivery track at the Summit. Tanya, who hails from Kiev, Ukraine where she was staff at the local Hillel, had recently visited the Jewlicious Web site.
Tanya enjoyed the various posts related to Israel and Jewish related issues. The combination of politics and pop culture was something she hadn’t ever seen before and she thought it would be something Russian language readers would enjoy. “There are all these Russian Jews who have no idea that Jewish culture can be cool.”
At first Tanya suggested a Russian language Jewlicious magazine made up of both original content and content translated from Jewlicious.com. Mindful of the expense and time involved in such an undertaking, David suggested instead a Web site, just like Jewlicious but in Russian. Given the size and geographical dispersion of Russian speaking Jews around the world, this was clearly the way to go. Sure enough, a week later, the site was ready and Tanya and a small crew of other Russian speaking ROI alumni got to work translating and creating content.
Recently, Jewlicious.ru received modest seed funding from The Schusterman Foundation and the Center for Leadership Initiatives in the form of a grant from the ROI Small Grant Fund. These funds will be used to help promote the Web site and recruit more staff. A mere two months old, and using only word of mouth publicity, Jewlicious.ru is attracting an impressive 500 unique visitors a week. Of course the site’s potential is much greater than that and with a little more hard work and support, Tanya is certain that she will be able to reach 10 times that number of readers in the short term.
The site itself is slickly designed and the content includes a number of interesting stories. For instance, there’s a post about Dmitry Salita, a native of Ukraine who is both an undefeated boxing champion, an Orthodox Jew and the subject of a recent feature length documentary called “Orthodox Stance.” There is also the first person account of a Muscovite who went to Jerusalem and described her time studying at Pardes, a progressive, co-ed Yeshiva that specializes in text study. Add to that the usual collection of Jewish events and cutting edge music and you have some pretty compelling content geared towards Jews between the ages of 18 and 36, regardless of the language they speak.
Jewlicious.ru seeks to act as a bridge between young Russian speaking Jews and the English speaking Jewish community. It is hoped that this cross cultural fertilization will serve to encourage greater unity and communication amongst communities that traditionally have very little informal contact with each other. These efforts are already bearing fruit as Jewlicious contemplates various real-world activities and events in the Former Soviet Union.
If you want to help or if you’d like more information, feel free to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
updated May 25: Meet Tanya and read her poignant and personal post, Israel and Judaism: What’s normal, weird, awesome, cute, eternal? on 60 Bloggers.com.