From the Black Sea to the Red Sea, Limmud FSU Celebrates a Decade

img_5038Limmud FSU marked this past weekend with a three-day Jewish festival of learning in Israel’s southernmost city, Eilat. The weekend celebrated a decade of educational work with young Russian-speaking Jews worldwide.

img_5045The dynamic volunteer-driver and pluralistic event gathered more than 2,000 participants, and featured some 250 lectures, workshops, presentations and discussions by leading figures including Israel’s Minister of Defense, Avigdor Liberman; Members of Knesset Yehiel Bar, Zahava Gal-On, Ofer Shelah, and Ksenia Svetlova; Jewish National Fund World Chairman Danny Atar; American businessman and philanthropist Matthew Bronfman, who is chairman of Limmud FSU’s international steering committee; and Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky; Victor Shenderovich from Moscow; and the acclaimed writer Dina Rubina (a first time Limmud attendee).

img_5046“Over the past decade, we have made a huge impact in Russian-Jewish communities around the world,” said Limmud FSU Founder Chaim Chesler. “There’s no place we’d rather celebrate our 10th anniversary – with leaders of the Russian-speaking community such as the minister of defense, and the chairman of the Jewish Agency – at one of the world’s most beautiful resort cities.”

img_5047“Year after year, Limmud FSU succeeds in igniting the spark of being Jewish, and this is the ninth time we’ll be doing so in Israel,” added Limmud FSU Co-Founder Sandra F. Cahn.

1One of the most moving events of the conference was the ceremony on Thursday, when Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman, together with Rabbi Julius Berman, Chairman of the Conference for Jewish Material Claims against Germany, and leaders of Limmud FSU, Matthew Bronfman, Sandra Cahn and founder Chaim Chesler, presented an award to 94 year-old Baruch Shub,

Shub was born in Vilna (today Vilnius), Lithuania, in 1924, the second child in a Hassidic family of six brothers and sisters and began to study mechanical engineering at university. In June 1941, the Germans conquered Vilna and began systematically murdering the Jews – more than 100,000 of them near Ponary, a suburb of Vilna. The 17 year-old Baruch managed to evade capture and began working in a garage, repairing German military vehicles. In September the remaining Jews of Vilna were confined to a ghetto and on March 11, 1942, many of them were gathered together in the town square. From his refuge in the garage, he saw a long line of people being herded towards a barn. The sound of shooting could be heard. At night, the barn was set alight. His sister Zipporah was among the 840 Jews to die that day.

After the ghetto was set up, a group of Jewish youth, Shub among them, established an underground movement in the ghetto, bought or stole weapons and prepared to escape to the forests to join the non-Jewish partisan groups active there. In September 1943, the Germans carried out a number of aktionen (roundups of Jews in preparation for their deportation) and Shub’s group joined the partisans in the Rudnicki Forest. Two weeks later, the Vilna Ghetto was liquidated.

As the Red Army advanced, Shub enlisted in a Russian paratrooper unit. In July 1944, the Soviet forces conquered Vilna, and he discovered that his entire family had been murdered. After his discharge, from the Red Army, he immigrated to Eretz Israel, finally arriving in October 1945. During the War of Independence, he joined the Hagana as an airplane technician. After the war he joined El Al, eventually becoming the company’s Chief Flight Engineer. After 33 years service, he retired.

Baruch Shub has been active in Holocaust commemoration for many years, speaking and lecturing in Israel and abroad, on the Holocaust, anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial. He serves as chairman of the Israel Organization of Partisans, Underground Fighters and Ghetto Resistance, and is a member of the Yad Vashem Directorate and the Board of Directors of the Claims Conference.

Baruch and his wife Nelly, herself a Holocaust survivor, who died just a few weeks ago, have two children and eight grandchildren. His son, Dr Yossi Shub, was an F15 pilot in the Israel Air Force, then like his father, also joined El Al and is today chairman of the Israel Airline Pilots Association, as well as serving as chairman of the “Generation to Generation – Bearers of the Holocaust and Heroism Legacy” organization.

img_5032Photos courtesy Limmud FSU