Some 400 Russian-speaking Jews will convene today at Ontario’s Deerhurst Resort for the inaugural Limmud FSU conference in Canada. A dynamic and pluralistic Jewish festival of learning, culture and creativity, Limmud FSU Canada will feature such prominent speakers as conference Honorary Chair MP Irwin Cotler, a Canadian-Jewish leader and human rights activist; MP Mark Adler, the first Jewish elected representative from the Conservative Party; Limor Livnat, Israel’s Minister of Culture & Sport; Marat Ressin, a Canadian Russian-Jewish entrepreneur; Sophie Milman, the star jazz vocalist; Matthew Bronfman, Limmud FSU chair; and many others. Limmud FSU Canada is being held in collaboration with UJA-Federation of Greater Toronto.
Limmud FSU Canada will offer a wide array of sessions, from “Not Just ISIS and Hamas: The threat of Islamic Radicalization on Israel and on the Western world” to “Canadian Jews: A unique community or just American Jews in the making?” Other sessions will focus on the crisis in Ukraine, Jewish life in the Russian Empire, the Russian-speaking Jewish elite in Russia; and such esoteric topics as “The Shadchan – the Art of Jewish Matchmaking” and a Kosher Wine workshop. Limmud FSU Canada will also feature nature walks, theater and programs for children.
This is the first time a global conference for Russian-speaking Jews is being held in Canada, home to about 330,000 Jews, including an estimated 70,000-plus Russian speakers, many in the Greater Toronto area. The contemporary Russian-speaking Jewish community in Canada – among the centers of Russian-Jewish immigration globally – is shaped by three waves of immigration, starting with the major exodus of Jews from the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s; Jews from countries of the former Soviet Union including those who first went to Israel, between 1990 and 2001; and since then those who first immigrated to Israel in the 1990s. A large percentage, nearly 220,000, of the country’s overall Jewish population lives in the Greater Toronto Area, including about 20-30,000 Israelis.