by Marcia P. Neeley
New York, October 16, 2013 – A global traveler on behalf of Limmud FSU, from Moscow and Yalta to Belarus and Israel, Matthew Bronfman who chairs the International Steering Committee, welcomed guests to his home to celebrate the organization’s 7th anniversary. Speaking about Limmud FSU volunteers and participants, he said, “Their passion and their burgeoning interest in their Jewish heritage and roots, reflect their drive and desire to understand what it is to be Jewish.”
Sharing the podium, the noted Canadian minister of parliament, Irwin Cotler, spoke with those gathered about his admiration and respect for Limmud FSU. Cotler, an outspoken advocate for social justice and human rights, said he was pleased to serve as the honorary chair for the 2014 Limmud FSU Canada Conference in Toronto, a first for the Russian-speaking Canadian Jewish community.
When Colter attended Limmud FSU Princeton last March, he said he was inspired by the intellectual and spiritual hunger of the participants who were eager to understand, “What is being Jewish about?” Colter said, “Limmud FSU provides the young Russian-speaking Jews an unfettered, safe learning environment to learn about their Jewish heritage and history and, most important, about their place in the Jewish community.”
Following a performance by the gifted Ukrainian vocal artist, Iryna Rosenfeld, Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, spoke eloquently. He, too, praised Limmud FSU for its groundbreaking accomplishments in attracting young Russian-speaking Jewish adults.
“What is so special about Limmud FSU? It is the place where we can ask searching questions about Judaism and our own Jewish identity,” explained Alina Bitel, chair of Limmud FSU in the United States,
John S. Ruskay, Executive Vice President, UJA-Federation of New York, praised Chaim Chesler, founder, and Sandra Cahn, co-founder, for their foresight and vision, stressing that, “Limmud FSU is an important and unique ‘growing’ Jewish learning organization.” Chesler said, “The amazing growth of Limmud FSU from a few hundred in 2006 to roughly 25,000 annual participants in 2013, showcases the interest and yearning for Jewish knowledge throughout the Russian-speaking Jewish community.
Marcia P. Neeley is Limmud FSU’s Communications Advisor.