The volunteers that made it happen! Photo by Nathan Roie.

The volunteers that made it happen!

The idyllic campus of Kiryat Moriah in Jerusalem was the setting this past weekend for a three-day Limmud FSU Festival.

Matthew Bronfman, Limmud FSU Steering Committee Chair, with his daughter Stacy at opening plenary; photo by Nathan Roie.

Matthew Bronfman, Limmud FSU Steering Committee Chair, with his daughter Tess at opening plenary; photo by Nathan Roie.

Over 800 young Russian-speaking Jews from Israel and around the world attended the festival which was held in cooperation with the Jerusalem Municipality, the Begin Heritage Center and the Hashava Company. The program included more than 120 lectures and workshops on fascinating art, culture, philosophy, religion and more.

Festival participants greeting old friends at Kiryat Moryah; photo by Roman-Yanushevsky.

Festival participants greeting old friends at Kiryat Moriah; photo by Roman Yanushevsky.

Festival participants heard from leading dignitaries and lecturers including, Deputy Foreign Minister MK Ze’ev Elkin, Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky, businessman, philanthropist and Limmud FSU International Steering Committee Chairman Matthew Bronfman, MK Ronen Hoffman, Prof. Amir Geva Dr. Aviad Hacohen, CEO Hashava Company Dr. Israel Peleg, CEO Begin Heritage Center Herzl Makov, actress Helena Yaralova, Director Arthur Kogan, Ilan Shchori, singers Dorit Reuveni & Kozmo and musician Leonid Ptashka. The closing event included an unforgettable performance by leading musician Arkadi Duchin.

Limmudnik between sessions; photo by Roman Yanushevsky.

Festival participant between sessions; photo by Roman Yanushevsky.

As part of the festival, Limmud FSU marked the 90th birthday of the President of Israel, Shimon Peres, as well as celebrated 100 years since the birth of late Prime Minster of Israel Menachem Begin by presenting two remarkable photo exhibitions that follow the lives and contributions to the State of Israel by these two leaders. Limmud FSU initiated the exhibitions, which were initially displayed last May in Peres’ and Begin’s hometowns in Belarus. They will be displayed for two weeks at the First Station Compound in David Remez Square in Jerusalem.

President Peres with Chaim Chesler at exhibit; photo by Nathan Roie

President Peres with Chaim Chesler at “From Vilna Street, Vishneyeva to President’s Street, Jerusalem” exhibit; photo by Nathan Roie.

President Shimon Peres visited the exhibition before the opening of the festival, and was accompanied by the Chairman and Founder of Limmud FSU, Chaim Chesler, Honorary Chairman of Limmud FSU Jerusalem Diane Wohl and curator Yoram Dori who has been an advisor to the president for decades. “We are proud that Limmud FSU was able to initiate an exhibition of two incredible personalities and display them together under one roof in the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem,” said Chesler. “We were all very emotional during the visit when President Peres shed a tear as he looked at the picture of his grandfather, Rabbi Zvi Meltzer, who was murdered by the Nazis in the Holocaust along with other family members,” he said.

Philanthropist and Limmud FSU supporter Diane Wohl; background (l-r) President Peres; Diane Wohl; Chaim Chesler; Yoram Dori, exhibit curator.

Philanthropist and Limmud FSU supporter Diane Wohl; background (l-r) President Peres; Diane Wohl; Chaim Chesler; Yoram Dori, exhibit curator; photo by Nathan Roie.

Katya Osmekhousky from Moldova, one of the participants the Festival who has been attending Limmud FSU conference for five years, said after attending one of the festival’s lectures, “Limmud empowers you by connecting interesting Jewish people from different countries who have different points of view. It also gives me the freedom to go to the lectures I’m interested in, which also gives me the freedom to learn in my own way.”

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Arkadi Duchin performing at the Festival finale Motzei Shabbat; photo by Ruben Landsberger.

“All Limmud FSU Conferences are run by motivated and enthusiastic volunteers from all over the world seeking to revive Jewish culture among immigrants from the former Soviet Union and cultivate new young leaders,” said Chesler. “Katya embodies the true spirit of Limmud FSU, which seeks to restore the tradition of lifelong Jewish learning and to strengthen Jewish identity that was stripped away by decades of communism.”

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