by Nathan Roi
Addressing a packed audience this weekend at the Limmud FSU conference for Russian-speaking young Jewish adults at the Klyasma Resort Center near Moscow, Sofa Landver, Israel’s Minister of Immigrant Absorption, said, “A nuclear holocaust in the Middle East would be a nuclear holocaust the world over.” She elaborated by saying that the special character of Iranian nuclear ambitions Israel threatens not only Israel as the Iranian leadership would wish and the Jewish people in general, but people all over the world. Among those in the audience – Ambassador Dorit Golander, Israel’s ambassador to the Russian Federation; MK Carmel Shama-Hacohen, chair of the Knesset Economics Committee and MK Alex Miller, chair of the Knesset Education and Culture Committee.
Following her presentation, Minister Landver spoke with several of the many hundreds of young people attending the conference and noted that recently there has been a 50 percent jump in the number of those emigrating to Israel from the major cities of Russia, including St. Petersburg and Moscow.
Speaking later at a round-table discussion, MK Miller said that Israel, in common with many other countries, is exerting pressure on Iran to stop developing nuclear weapons in the interest of world peace and not just that of Israel. “The threat of nuclear weaponry is not just our problem but that of the whole world.” And MK Shama-Hacohen lauded the relationship between Russia and Israel and also emphasized that Israel is seriously concerned with the threat posed by Iran as well as the political turmoil in Syria. Israel has a direct and immediate interest in halting the possibility of Iran developing nuclear weapons and it would seem that Russia also has an interest in halting this.
Ambassador Golender praised the relationship between Israel and Russia in various fields which has developed since the increase in flights between the two countries, especially in the economy, culture, and the use of leisure time. “We would like to see an increase in the number of Russian politicians visiting Israel and we are glad that the Mayor of Moscow will be visiting in May with a large delegation, and that the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Zubin Mehta will be performing here in Moscow”.
More than 1000 young Jewish adults from all over Russia along with participants coming from Ukraine, France, USA and Israel have been attending the three-day conference at which they heard dozens of presentations, lectures and workshops on a wide variety of subjects, including the volatile political situation in the Russian Federation; science and technology, Jewish history, satire, literature, the arts, yoga, philosophy and much more.
Looking ahead, Chaim Chesler, founder of Limmud FSU, said that the next Limmud FSU event in Israel will take place in Upper Nazareth in September with the theme sports and the quality of life. A central element will be to observe 40 years since the murder of 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympic Games in 1972. Chesler turned to Minister Landver and the two Knesset committee chairmen seeking their help in bringing to the Nazareth event some of the Russian gold medalists from the forthcoming Olympics in London. “If we could bring to Limmud FSU Beersheva last year, two senior Russian cosmonauts it should certainly be possible to bring Russian athletes to Israel. Moreover we also hope to bring to Nazareth the families of the victims as well as the survivors, including the noted runner Esther Roth-Shachamorov. My dream is also to be able to bring the American Jewish swimmer Mark Spitz who won seven gold medals in Munich. For Spitz, who was forced to leave Munich immediately after the murder, it would be a fitting closing of a circle and a tribute to the murdered Israeli sportsmen.”
Speaking to eJP recently, Limmud FSU co-founder Sandra Cahn said, “Following Moscow, we will turn our focus to Princeton where the first multi-day Limmud FSU event in the U.S. will take place next month. We’re expecting a full-house of participants along with guests including actors from the Israeli movie Footnote. Also in attendance will be the family of Krystyna Chiger, author of The Girl in the Green Sweater, the basis for the recently released movie, In Darkness.”
In addition, the conference will place special emphasis on Prof. Albert Einstein, who lived and taught at Princeton University. Keynote lectures on Einstein will be presented by Prof. Menachem Ben-Sasson and Prof. Hanoch Gutfreund, president and former president (respectively) of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the location of the Einstein Archives and holder of the Einstein copyrights.
Additional reporting by Dan Brown.
photos courtesy Nathan Roi