Happening Now in St. Petersburg, Russia: “Learn and Teach” Seminar for Russian-Speaking Jewish Educators and Community Activists

Educators, leaders and activists from Russian-speaking Jewish (RSJ) communities are gathering in St. Petersburg, Russia, this week, to explore Jewish texts together, under the auspices of the Global Day of Jewish Learning. Representatives from 23 cities in five countries across the former Soviet Union (FSU) will join Russian-speaking education professionals from Germany and Israel, in a unique three-day training seminar exploring the power of Jewish texts.

Organized by the Global Day of Jewish Learning, a project of the Aleph Society, the seminar is produced in partnership with the Jewish Resource Center of Saint Petersburg and hosted by YESOD (Jewish Community Center) and made possible with the generous support of Genesis Philanthropy Group.

The seminar explores how participants can claim the vast and diverse treasure of Jewish texts as their own, empowers them to teach these texts in their communities, and equips attendees with tools to organize educational community events, beginning with the Global Day of Jewish Learning, which will be celebrated worldwide on November 12th.

Seminar sessions will explore different ways of approaching Jewish texts, both traditional and contemporary, as well as give participants the tools they need to organize successful, engaging on-the-ground events. This week’s professional development seminar is a unique opportunity for representatives from RSJ communities in the FSU to come together in such a scholarly fashion, and is part of an expanded effort by the Global Day of Jewish Learning – under the aegis of Rabbi Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz – to reinvigorate Russian-speaking Jews’ interest in their heritage.

Rabbi Steinsaltz welcomed the news of the seminar: “It is deeply important to me to put Jewish texts back into the hands and lives of Jews in the Former Soviet Union. I am pleased to know that so many leaders and educators are convening in Saint Petersburg for such a joyful task.”

Two training sessions from the seminar are being broadcast live today. At 12:30 MSK Rabbi Boruch Gorin discusses “Beauty and Ugliness in Light of Discourse of Talmudic Sages about Sexuality”, and at 14:30 MSK Julia Patrakova presents “Jewish Texts on Beauty and Ugliness through the Visual Arts Experience”. To watch visit theglobalday.org/videos.

Participants hail from Belarus, Germany, Israel, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine, and include educators and community leaders who work with organizations including JDC, Hillel, Moishe House, Project Kesher, Active Jewish Teens, and Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia.