As Limmud FSU enters 2nd decade, Strategic Changes Afoot

Limmud FSU Israel 2017; photo by Roman Yanushevsky.

For 2018, organization to focus on volunteer leadership development,
self-sustainability, and attracting new audiences

Limmud FSU, the most successful Jewish grass-roots volunteer-driven project in the Russian-speaking Jewish community worldwide, is moving to a new level in its goal of strengthening the Jewish identity of young Russian-speaking Jews worldwide. This will include steps through a new strategic plan to ensure that the next decade will take Limmud FSU to new heights, new audiences and new record-breaking achievements.

As the organization continues to grow, flourish and develop its 12 Limmud FSU projects around the world, imaginative strategic thinking is needed to embark on the organization’s next steps. The leadership, led by Chairman Matthew Bronfman and President Aaron Frenkel, and the professional team headed by Executive Director Roman Kogan, together with a devoted team of volunteers drawn from all four continents, embarked in the last few weeks on a process of strategic assessment to address the challenges facing the organization, while working towards a vibrant and sustainable future for Russian-speaking Jewry.

Although Limmud FSU has proven its ability to attract unaffiliated young Jews to its programs, one of the most important targets in the next few years will be to attract new audiences – with an emphasis on young adults – that weren’t previously involved with Limmud FSU or any other Jewish organization or initiative.

In 2018, for the first time Limmud FSU NY will take place in the heart of New York City, with one goal that the location will attract new audiences. Additionally, with the generous support of the Covenant Foundation, Limmud FSU will concentrate on intensive volunteer leadership training and Jewish education which will add new dimensions to its activities in the U.S. The will create a ripple effect of enriched Jewish community, leadership, and learning among North American Russian-speaking Jews.

Sandra F. Cahn, co-founder of Limmud FSU told eJP: “There are approximately 3 million Russian-speaking Jews in the world and while they are bound together by many diverse threads they are often not affiliated with established Jewish institutions, and many grew up with limited Jewish knowledge. There is an acute need for programs that nourish their group identity and in the next decade we will reach out for many more Jews who are hungry for knowledge.” Chaim Chesler, founder of Limmud FSU added that “In order to harness the enormous potential for leadership, engagement and impact, and to ensure continuity, we will put a strong emphasize in order to provide young potential leaders with an experience of Jewish learning and culture in ways that are intellectually challenging, spiritually compelling, and relevant to their lives.”

Additionally, with generous support from UJA-Federation of NY and Genesis Philanthropy Group, Limmud FSU has engaged Ukeles Associates to develop an overall road map involving representatives of key constituencies along with volunteer and professional leadership. The main goal of the process is to address various choices of direction facing the rapid growth and challenges of Limmud FSU on the international Jewish communal scene.

The strategic planning comes after an extremely successful year with 10,000 participants! (including a record-breaking attendance of 2,000 in Israel and 750 in St Petersburg in December 2017), which makes an impressive total of 50,000 Limmud FSU participants worldwide over the years.

In terms of the upcoming events in 2018, in partnership with the March of the Living, Limmud FSU is planning a Global volunteer leadership summit for the organization’s leaders from 9 countries in Poland, with a goal of forming a network of young leaders who are educated in Jewish history, heritage, and culture, and who have the connections, skills, and tools to shape the future of the Russian-speaking Jewish communities globally. The flagship conference in Moscow will take place in April, Limmud FSU NY in the Spring, Limmud FSU Volga-Urals, Limmud FSU Canada, Limmud FSU Ukraine this Fall and Limmud FSU Israel later in 2018.

Limmud FSU is generously supported, or partners with: Euro-Asian Jewish Congress (EAJC), Blavatnik Family Foundation, Covenant Foundation, Genesis Philanthropy Group (GPG), Jim Joseph Foundation, Koret Foundation, UJA-Federation NY and the World Jewish Congress and others.