Hip-hop Mogul Russell Simmons to join Oscar-winner Jon Voight at first-ever Limmud FSU West Coast

HollywoodSome 700 Russian-speaking Jews have sold out the first-ever Limmud FSU West Coast conference, which opens today in Pasadena. A dynamic and pluralistic Jewish festival of learning, culture and creativity, Limmud FSU West Coast will feature an array of prominent speakers, including Oscar-winning actor Jon Voight and hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons.

Simmons will speak about the Jewish response to Islamophobia, along with Jerusalem Post Editor Steve Linde and Rabbi Marc Schneier, founder and president of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding. Simmons is chairman the N.Y.-based nonprofit that focuses on improving Muslim–Jewish and black-Jewish relations.

Other major participants will include Israeli film star Tamara Klingon; Limmud FSU Chair Matthew Bronfman; Russian rock star Andrey Makarevich; Russian satirist and author Victor Shenderovich; Russian-Israeli singer Irene Talia Rosenfeld; jazz musician Leonid Ptashka; Jewish Women’s Renaissance Founder Lori Palatnik; former Israel Defense Forces Maj. Gen. Uzi Dayan; Reut Institute President Gidi Grinstein; Rabbi David Wolpe; and Hillel International President and CEO Eric Fingerhut.

Speaking to eJP prior to the conference, Limmud FSU Founder Chaim Chesler said: “Limmud FSU has revolutionized how we strengthen the Russian-speaking Jewish community worldwide, and Limmud FSU West Coast offers a historic opportunity to engage and inspire this emerging community for generations to come.”

“We are thrilled to be bringing the premier Limmud FSU experience to the West Coast, with its fascinating Jewish history and growing Russian-speaking population,” added Limmud FSU Co-Founder Sandra Cahn.

Limmud FSU West Coast will feature an eclectic lineup, from a concert by Makarevich to spiritually stirring Shabbat and Havdalah ceremonies, to interactive improv, and film screenings. The conference will also offer over 60 fascinating sessions on such issues as Russian-Jewish identity, the Russian-Jewish community in LA and Jewish perspectives on relationships.

There are an estimated 80,000 Russian-speaking Jews in the greater LA area, with other large Russian-speaking Jewish communities in the San Francisco Bay Area and elsewhere in California. There are some 700,000 Russian-speaking Jews in the U.S. altogether.