Limmud FSU Leaders Gather for Global Summit

More than 40 Russian-speaking leaders of Limmud FSU coming from Russia, Ukraine, the U.S., Belarus, Moldova and Israel participated in an intensive four-day conference here in Jerusalem this past week.

The international Limmud movement, founded in Great Britain 32 years ago, has become one of the most successful and important educational enterprises in the Jewish world. Pluralistic, egalitarian, non-political and volunteer-based, Limmud events take place in more than 60 countries across the globe.

Limmud FSU for Russian speakers was founded six years ago and thousands of young people have taken part in its conferences and festivals.

Speaking to eJewish Philanthropy, Sandra Cahn (who co-founded Limmud FSU along with Chaim Chesler) said, “This Summit represents a very important juncture in the development of Limmud FSU. As we now enter our 7th year, it is time to re-set our goals and priorities and to hear from all the extraordinary volunteers and project managers in the field about the challenges they face and through team-building and learning drive Limmud FSU to the next level.

We are particularly grateful to UJA-Federation NY, who through their Commission on the Jewish People, provided us with this unique opportunity to enrich, widen and deepen the professional knowledge, tools and skills needed for the further development of Limmud FSU around the world.”

Among the specially-invited guest speakers were Clive Lawton, a distinguished educator and one of the founders of Limmud in Britain and today its senior consultant, and Carolyn Bogush, the Chair of Global Limmud. A series of professional training master-classes and workshops were held on various aspects of topics such as the use of the Internet for organizational purposes, data base and client management, public relations and publicity, quality as the cornerstone of Limmud FSU events, fundraising and volunteer engagement. As a part of team building the participants took part in various discussions on peer-learning and strategic planning for future Limmud FSU events.

The group met with the Minister of Diaspora Affairs, Yuli Edelstein, who spoke about the relationship between Israel and the Diaspora, Natan Sharansky, the Chair of the Jewish Agency who presented his vision of Jewish education for Russian-speaking Jews, MK Alex Miller, Chair of the Knesset Education Committee, Rabbi Julius Berman, Chair of the Conference for Jewish Material Claims against Germany (which is a significant supporter of Limmud FSU), who spoke about the importance of Holocaust education; Prof. Hanoch Gutfreund of the Hebrew University and who is Director of the Einstein Center which is responsible for Albert Einstein’s intellectual property (the next Limmud FSU US conference will be held in Princeton University where Einstein researched and taught), Rabbi Menachem Hacohen, who spoke about religion and nationality in Israel and the distinguished Israeli writer Etgar Keret.

The participants also spent some time getting acquainted with Israel’s cultural scene during a literary excursion in Tel-Aviv, walking through the first neighborhoods of Jerusalem built outside the city walls, seeing a play in the “Nalagaat” Center for the deaf and blind, attending exhibitions at the Hechal Shlomo Jewish hertitage center, visiting the renovated Hurvah synagogue and Davidson center in the Old City and dancing to the tunes of the “Groovatron” band in Beit Avichai.

At the close of the Summit, Clive Lawton and Carolyn Bogush said how impressed they had been by the group and the discussions. “We are proud to see the change that Limmud FSU has made to Jewish identity and education among young Russian-speaking Jews and we look forward to deepening even more the bonds between Limmud International and Limmud FSU.”

eJP’s Dan Brown also contributed to this article.
images courtesy Eugene Lekakh and Nathan Roi