Limmud FSU Vinnitsa: the Ultimate Answer to the “Final Solution”

The next Limmud FSU event for young Russian speaking-adults, to be called “Limmud FSU Tekumah”, will take place in the town of Vinnitsa, Ukraine, some 150 kms. south-west of Kiev, on June 17-19, 2011. Vinnitsa lies in the province of Podolia, the heartland of the Jewish Pale of Settlement up to 1941.

Limmud Tekuma (Tekuma in English is “revival” or “rebirth,”) will mark the 70th anniversary of “Operation Barbarossa”, when on Midsummer’s Day 1941, the wehrmacht smashed across Germany’s Eastern borders, thus launching the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union which led to some of the most bloody and protracted battles of the Second World War.

On July 19th, 1941, Vinnitsa was overrun by German troops. Adolf Hitler established his easternmost headquarters, FHQ Wehrwolf, near the town and spent a number of weeks there in late 1942 and early 1943. For the Jews, the greatest catastrophe came during Rosh Hashanah (September 22nd, 1941) when virtually the entire Jewish population of Vinnitsa, some 28,000 people, were massacred by the Nazis.

Limmud FSU has chosen the town of Vinnitsa as living evidence that Jewish life, culture, education and national identity is alive and thriving even after such horrors. Today some 40,000 Jews live in the greater Vinnitsa region.

Some 300 participants from around the Ukraine are expected for the program. In the best tradition of Limmud FSU, there will be a packed schedule of lectures, presentations, cultural performances, workshops and round-table discussions with dozens of lecturers and presenters from Israel and Ukraine, among other countries. Among Holocaust related subjects to be discussed are “The Eichmann Trial – an eye-witness account”, “Faith after the Holocaust”, “Jews in the Resistance movement in Vinnitsa”, “The Holocaust as a fundamental aspect of Israeli statehood”. On a lighter note there will be master classes in Jewish dance, making Jewish-themed articles in batik, the art of paper-cuts, musical performances and guided tours.

During this Limmud FSU gathering, the participants will visit a memorial to the Jewish victims at the site in the city where most of the Jews of Vinnitsa were massacred. The ceremony will be held together with representatives of the Ukrainian Government, the Israel Embassy in Ukraine, the Vinnitsa Municipality, local Holocaust survivors and the Tekuma All-Ukraine Center for Holocaust Studies. MK Yossi Peled, the government minister charged with responsibility for the welfare of Holocaust victims, and MK Alex Miller, chair of the Knesset Education Committee will participate.

Major partners of Limmud FSU Vinnitsa are the Conference for Jewish Material Claims against Germany, the Vinnitsa Regional State Administration and Vinnitsa City Council, the Israel Prime Minister’s Office: “Nativ”, Tkuma – Holocaust research center, Keren Hayesod, JDC and the Jewish Agency.

So far this year, Limmud FSU events have been held in Moscow and in Beersheba, Israel. Future 2011 programs are planned for St. Petersburg, Kishinev (Moldova), and Odessa (Ukraine).