If there were any nay-sayers remaining about the vitality, and viability, of Limmud FSU, they would have been dispelled last night. For here in Jerusalem, at the opening program for Limmud Nobel, it was more who wasn’t here. Featuring an on-stage conversation with Israel’s popular President, and Nobel Prize winner, Shimon Peres, there was clear acknowledgment that Limmud FSU has come of age.
The Jewish Agency’s Kiryat Moriah campus was bustling all day; participants ranged from infant on up – with the greatest numbers clearly under 40. In traditional Limmud style, there was a vast array of programming continually taking place, from the light to the serious, entertaining and educational. Hebrew, English and Russian were heard throughout – often in the same conversation. Presenters crossed all lines of ideology, and public visibility – from household names like Natan Sharansky and Tzipi Livni to local authors and artists.
Volunteers, the lifeblood of Limmud worldwide, could be seen in a constant state of movement – assisting, facilitating, and generally just making sure the day flowed smoothly.
In addition to Peres, the opening program was attended by several government ministers, members of Knesset and prominent members of the Russian ex-pat community. With both program live-streaming, and the IBA (among others) roaming through Kiryat Moriah, conducting informal interviews with politicians and Israeli business leaders alike, it was clear that even the critical Israeli media recognized how far Limmud FSU programming has come.
The evening was also a time to thank some of the many generous, and long-time, donors to Limmud FSU. And while both the Jewish Agency (JAFI) and the Joint (JDC) were acknowledged, particular thanks were extended to Aaron Frenkel, Dr. Nona Kuhina and Moshe Shneerson, Diane Wohl and Limmud FSU’s steering committee’s chair, Matthew Bronfman.
Today, programming moves to the Menachem Begin Heritage Center and concludes, appropriately, with a ‘Salute to Twenty Years of Russian Immigration’ (live-streamed here).