Russian Jewish Children Eligible for Camp Chi Scholarships

Russian Jewish children from 4th-11th grade, with at least one Jewish parent born in the former Soviet Union, can now receive scholarships to attend JCC Camp Chi, the Midwest’s premier Jewish overnight camp, thanks to a grant from Foundation for Jewish Camp with generous support from the Genesis Philanthropy Group. The grant’s purpose is to engage new campers and staff from Russian-speaking families in the summer of a lifetime at JCC Camp Chi. Campers gain increased self-confidence, pride in Jewish heritage, and life-long friendships. . JCC Camp Chi’s popular overnight program features an unmatched opportunity for youth to explore and develop new skills and enjoy unparalleled activities, in a safe, nurturing environment. Russian-speaking staff will receive training and ongoing support to create … [Read more...]

SEFER @ 21: FSU Jewish Studies Celebrated

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Twenty Years of SEFER
Victoria Mochalova, Rabbi Berl Lazar, and Mika Chlenov speak at the SEFER conference. Click to enlarge. Victoria Mochalova, Rabbi Berl Lazar, and Mika Chlenov speak at the SEFER conference; courtesy JDC.

As the world was readying for the Olympic games in Sochi, SEFER - the international conference on Judaic studies - celebrated its 21st year last week, a testament to the staying power and importance of the former Soviet Union’s Jewish revival. Held in Moscow, the event brought together more than 200 Jewish scholars from Russia and abroad and serves as a platform for study and knowledge exchange between established scholars and researchers and cultivates the younger generation of scholars who later become Jewish studies specialists in the FSU. Today SEFER is supported by the Russian Jewish Congress; the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, whose chairman Mikhail Chlenov was an official feature speaker; the Genesis Philanthropy Group; the Dutch Jewish Humanitarian Fund; and the American Jewish Joint … [Read more...]

FSU Birthright Participants Celebrate in Jerusalem


800 Taglit-Birthright Israel young adults from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus celebrated yesterday at an Israeli Street Party designed by Taglit-Birthright Israel and the Genesis Philanthropy Group. As part of the event, the participants joined workshops on Israeli culture, listened to motivational speeches and attended a dance party in Jerusalem. Each participant attended one of the eight workshops offered: Israeli theater, dance, communication, song, improv and acting, cooking, art and design by leading Israeli cultural figures. photos by Ilanit Cohen … [Read more...]

SF-based Jewish Community Federation Announces Impact Grants to Russian Jewish Community

The Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties (the Federation) have announced nine new grantees through its Russian Jewish Community Impact Grants Initiative (IGI). These organizations were selected by a delegation of Bay Area Russian Jewish Community leaders, formed through the IGI - the Federation’s pioneering prototype for community-engaged grant-making. The awardees, listed below, will each receive between $2,000 and $7,000 in funding from the Federation to help grow the capacity and efficiency of their operations. The grantees selected were: AlephBet School, Congregation Ner Tamid in San Francisco: Kosher Food lessons with Aleph Bet School are designed for children ages 4-12. The program will teach Judaism and Kashrut to children through a … [Read more...]

It’s All About Sarah: Creating a Stronger Connection Between RSJs and Jewish Camp

by Cheryl Fishbein "After my first summer at Havurah, I felt connected to a great community. Havurah instilled a pride in me of my Jewish heritage, and helped me to understand it alongside my Russian heritage.” Sarah Benenson Sarah Benenson is 17 years old. She grew up in Glen Gardener, NJ with her parents who emigrated there from the former Soviet Union 23 years ago. Like so many of her peers in North America, Sarah grew up with a clear understanding that she is Jewish, and an understanding of the anti-semitism that prompted her parents to leave Russia, but without much Jewish practice or engagement with the Jewish opportunities around her. Then in 2010, through a friend of a friend, she heard about Havurah - a unique program for teens from the North American Russian Jewish community at Camp Tel … [Read more...]

New Initiative to Strengthen Jewish Identity for Young FSU Jews Launched in Israel

Program participants volunteering at a home for the elderly in Beer Sheva; photo courtesy Naftali Philipson.

The Genesis Philanthropy Group, Masa Israel Journey, and Israeli Roots Odyssey (known as Masa Yisraeli in Hebrew) have  launched a new initiative to strengthen the Jewish identity of young Jews from the former Soviet Union and to deepen their connections to Israel.  The initiative is based on the Israeli Roots Odyssey model that includes a weeklong journey dedicated to familiarizing participants with Israel and its society, in the course of which participants will explore their Jewish identity in an educational and experiential manner and will also discover their personal connections to the Jewish people, to the Land of Israel, and to Jewish heritage.  The program's pilot was launched on October 22nd and involves 220 young people from throughout the former Soviet Union. The experience began with … [Read more...]

The Kibbutznik Weekend: Engaging Brooklyn’s Russian-Speaking Jewish Community


Over 160 people gathered earlier this month at Isabella Freedman Retreat Center, in upstate New York, for Kibbutznik - a weekend of Jewish learning, relaxing with family, and building community. The event is the mid-point of a year-long initiative to engage the growing Russian-speaking Jewish community in Brownstone Brooklyn and some other relatively new enclaves for the group. From a Friday night musical Shabbat welcome to the beautiful lakeside Havdalah ceremony to rainy Sunday adventures, the weekend was filled with nature, beauty, and Yiddishkeit, in a healthy mix of Russian and English. Children explored the local barn and farm, and learned about the Jewish values of taking care of the land and animals. Spending time in the art studio, families learned about the meaning of Hebrew names, … [Read more...]

Taglit-Birthright Israel: Getting it Right, the Russian Way

Hillel Russia in Israel

by Alexander Shlimak Without a doubt, Taglit-Birthright Israel is one of the most important global Jewish projects of the 21st century; with enough resources and support that have demonstrated a positive impact on Jews living in the diaspora. The concept that every young Jew has the right to directly connect with our historic homeland makes so much sense, that it was no surprise that the North American initiative quickly spread to other countries with large diaspora communities. For the past thirteen years, nearly 350,000 young Jews from around the world have visited Israel on a Taglit-Birthright Israel trip. For many of them, the trip is a turning point in their Jewish journey; young people who had known of their Jewish roots but attached little value to them suddenly discover their personal … [Read more...]