More than 250 members of the Russian-speaking Jewish community of Australia, gathered yesterday (Sunday) for the annual volunteer-driven festival of Jewish learning organized by Limmud FSU. The one-day conference took place at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, and included more than 70 seminars, lectures, presentations and workshops, given by an array of international and local speakers, as well as a full-day program for children.
One of the speakers at the event was Emmanuel Gruzman, PhD Candidate at Monash University in Melbourne, who talked about his ongoing research on Jewish identity of Russian-speaking Jews in Melbourne, where the majority of them reside today (7,000 out of an estimated 11,000 in Australia).
According to Gruzman’s study, to be published in 2019, the proportion of Jews from the FSU who have a partner or spouse who is non-Jewish is lower (18% among secular and traditional) than among Israelis living in Melbourne (23%).
Among keynote speakers at the festival were Mark Sofer, Israel’s Ambassador to Australia; Dr. Danny Lamm, President of the Zionist Federation of Australia; Ruta Vanagaite a bestselling Lithuanian writer; Ron Weiser from the Zionist Federation of Australia who also moderated the event; Emile Sherman, an Academy Award winning film producer; Rabbi Dovid Slavin, Executive Director of the Rabbinical College of Sydney; Emma Lippa, former concertmaster of the Bolshoi Ballet of Moscow; Rabbi Yehoram Ulman, spiritual leader of the Russian-Jewish community of Sydney, and many more.
Chaim Chesler, founder of Limmud FSU, said during the event: “We are proud to continue to develop our activities here in Australia, so as to contribute to strengthening the integration of Russian-speakers into the country’s Jewish community.”
Semyon Teplitskiy, one of the participants, remarked; “I really admire the volunteers’ effort, and hope to be able to join this wonderful team the next time Limmud FSU takes place in Australia.” Another participant, Laya Slavin, said; “It is such a pleasure to see so many happy faces of people enjoying this special and unique celebration of Jewish learning.”
Limmud FSU Australia is made possible by a team of local leaders and volunteers and generously supported by Genesis Philanthropy Group, Harry Triguboff, the Zionist Federation of Australia, the Conference for Material Claims against Germany and several other Limmud FSU donors.
Photos courtesy of Veda Kucko