Over 2000 members of Moscow’s Jewish community came together for the largest-ever festival for Russian-speaking Jews in the former Soviet Union this past weekend.
Keynote speakers included Russia’s chief rabbi, Berel Lazar and Israel’s minister of justice, Ayelet Shaked, who told the Moscow Jewish community that Israel “would be happy” if Russia moved its embassy to Jerusalem.
“The fact that Russia talks about Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel is significant progress for us,” said Shaked, who is also the only secular woman in the Jewish Home party. “We would be happy if Russia would follow the United States’ lead and consider moving the Russian embassy to Jerusalem.”
Elaborating on Israeli-Russian relations, Shaked added: “This is a period of prosperity between Israel and Russia. Israeli-Russian relations have never been so positive, and neither has the attitude of the Russian government toward Jews and Judaism.”
The weekend event included more than 250 workshops, roundtables and activities for children, and 12 lectures each hour on topics ranging from Jewish history, to politics, to cooking, and more.
“The record turnout is evidence that Jewish life is thriving in Russia,” said Limmud FSU Founder Chaim Chesler. “It warms my heart to see how proudly and openly Russian’s Jews celebrate their Jewish identities, which they have worked hard to define for themselves in the years in the years since the fall of the Soviet Union. Moscow’s Jewish community is here to stay.”
Other presenters included American musician Joshua Nelson; film director Kirill Serebrennikov, who is artistic director of The Gogol center in Moscow; acclaimed Russian writer Eduard Uspensky; world-leading Kaballah teacher Eliyahu Yardeni, who heads the Moscow Kabbalah Center; Nazi hunter and historian Ephraim Zuroff; and Limmud FSU President Aaron Frenkel.
The conference also celebrated the centennial of the Habima Theatre, Israel’s national theater and one of the first Hebrew-language theaters, which launched in Moscow in 1917.