First Look: Limmud FSU New York Raises the Bar in RSJ Young Adult Engagement

More than 1,000, including 100+ kids, gathered this past weekend for Limmud FSU Legacy, the largest event geared towards the Russian-speaking Jewish community in the Tri-State area.

Limmud FSU New York is a dynamic and pluralistic Jewish festival of culture, creativity and learning featuring more than 80 inspiring presenters – including local educators Yaffa Epstein (Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies) and Elie Kaunfer (Mechon Hadar) – along with 120 panels, workshops and discussions on subjects ranging from art, to Jewish culture and tradition, history, politics, academics, business and lifestyles.

Generously supported by UJAFederation-NY and the Genesis Philanthropy Group, Limmud FSU New York explored a broad array of topics including Israel in the era of Trump, Jewish views of astrology and superstition, raising children in a diverse world, demystifying Shabbat, and religious Zionism. Top Israeli singer Ninet Tayeb gave a special tribute performance to Leonard Cohen at the conference’s gala event on Saturday night.

Taking the Limmud model of volunteer engagement to a new high, the event’s organizing committee provided a textbook example of building from the bottom up.

“The New York Russian-speaking Jewish community is thriving and going from strength to strength and Limmud FSU New York has become an integral part of this exciting growth,” said Limmud FSU founder Chaim Chesler.

The festival included the premiere of “Leonard Cohen & Judaism,” an exhibition curated by Dr. Yoel Rappel, focused on Leonard Cohen’s life and Jewish roots. Sandy Cahn, a NY philanthropist and co-founder of Limmud FSU told eJP, “One of the tenants of Limmud FSU is to remember the past, so we can move forward, because without our past we don’t really know who we are and where we are going, and I think that is the lesson that Leonard Cohen understood and embraced.”

The reason why it’s so important for us to do these exhibits is because all of the people we feature give young Russian-speaking Jews a sense of pride and belonging.”

(l-r) Sandy Cahn, Greg Schneider, Roman Kent, Chaim Chesler

At the event, Limmud FSU also honored Claims Conference Executive Vice President Greg Schneider and Holocaust survivor Roman Kent, who is president of the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, with the Elie Wiesel Award for their outstanding work helping Holocaust survivors and their rescuers.

Photos by Igor Khodzinskiy Photography; courtesy Limmud FSU