Warsaw, April 16: Young Russian-speaking volunteers from 9 locations worldwide – Australia, Belarus, Canada, the EU, Israel, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine and the US – came together in Warsaw, Poland this past weekend for Limmud FSU’s biannual Global Leadership Summit.
In the framework of the Summit’s various activities, as part of Limmud FSU’s official delegation, the participants took an active part at the annual March of the Living event on Holocaust Remembrance Day. Two of its leaders, Chairman Matthew Bronfman and President Aaron G. Frenkel, kindled torches at Auschwitz-Birkenau in memory of the six million Jewish victims of the Nazi Holocaust.
Other activities at the 5-day summit included leadership development sessions, learning about different approaches to crowdfunding and fundraising for nonprofits, open space sessions with a goal of experience sharing, a session about community engagement between conferences, visiting the new POLIN museum which presents the history of the Polish Jews, and many more.
One of the panels was in particular intriguing. The participants, Chief Rabbi of Poland Michael Schudrich, Israel’s Ambassador to Poland Anna Azari, Limmud FSU Chairman Matthew Bronfman and AJC Central Europe Director Agnieszka Markiewicz, spoke about the infamous Poland Holocaust law:
“Some of the Jewish responses to the Polish law were irresponsible” stated Schudrich. “To say that all the Poles are anti-Semites is not true. it’s hurtful.” Bronfman added that “my greatest fear about the law is that it’s a part of something larger, and it’s not just an isolated moment. I truly fear the wave of nationalism around Europe as a whole.”
The last day of the Summit included participation at a special event organized by Limmud FSU with March of the Living in Plonsk, the hometown of David Ben-Gurion. Hundreds of locals, children and adults, marched together with the young leaders via several stations of Israel’s first Prime Minister’s life in this small Polish town.
Mara Khaimov from Los Angeles said that “It’s an amazing opportunity to be here in Poland, on the 70th anniversary of Israel, together with people from other regions, sharing experiences, learning new things from our teammates – it’s absolutely incredible.”
Founder of Limmud FSU Chaim Chesler said: “The goals of the Summit are to enable activists and volunteers to meet colleagues and to share knowledge and experience in an atmosphere of joint learning and study.” Sandy Cahn, the co-founder, added that the Summit was taking place “with the aim of reinforcing identity, cultural, intellectual and spiritual engagement among the organization’s key personnel.”
“These were the most meaningful, emotional and educational 4 days,” said Irina Kolomey from the US West Coast, “I can’t believe how much we did and how little sleep we got. I’ve had a chance to meet and interact with the most interesting people of similar background, working on a similar project, thinking about the same issues. I actually made it to the Summit in the last minute. And every night this week, as I came back to my room, I would say to my roommate – I can’t believe I could’ve missed it!”
The Global Leadership Summit was generously supported by UJA- Federation of New York and L.A Pincus Fund for Jewish Education in the Diaspora.