Limmud: Learning about the Past, Living the Present for the Sake of the Future

Vinnitsa, Ukraine, 17 June 2011: “Limmud – Learning about the Past, Living the Present for the Sake of the Future.”

In these words, Chaim Chesler, founder and chair of Limmud FSU for Russian-Speakers opened a press conference in Vinnitsa, Ukraine, introducing the Limmud FSU Festival, taking place in the city on 17-18 June.

Limmud FSU Vinnitsa is being held to mark 70 years since the infamous invasion of the Soviet Union by the German forces in June 1941, marking the opening of Operation Barbarossa and the beginning of the Holocaust on Soviet soil, in the course of which, more than three million Jews were murdered. Chesler called upon Ukrainians, whether Jewish or not, to take part in Limmud in order to learn more about the history of the Jews of the USSR and especially during the Holocaust, so as to understand the reality that marked generations of Jews and how a new future was created out of the old after the Second World War.

Limmud FSU is taking place in the city of Vinnitsa, situated 150 kilometers south of Kiev, the capital of Ukraine and more than 300 people are expected to participate. Vinnitsa was the site of Hitler’s most eastern command post, known as the “Wolf’s Lair.” The press conference was attended by Ukrainian and Russian press and following it, a memorial ceremony was held at the site where the entire Jewish population of the city, 25,000 people, were murdered by the Nazis.

Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yossi Peled, a minister in the Israeli government, said at the press conference, “A people’s future will be more assured if it remembers its past. I see great importance in my participation in this event as a representative of the Israel government. I am here not only as a minister, but as one who lost his whole family in the blood-soaked soil of Europe.”

Yacov Livne, head of the Euro-Asian desk at the Israel Foreign Ministry, said that, once again, Limmud has proved that it can mount an amazing cultural and educational event. Yulia Dor, the director of the Israel Cultural Center, said that each time, Limmud sets itself a higher and higher target which is of great importance to both Israelis and Ukrainians. Israel’s ambassador to Ukraine, Zina Kalay-Klaitman, pointed out that Ukraine is one gigantic mass cemetery of Ukrainian Jewry, and Limmud is one of the most effective initiatives in preserving the memories so that such events will never occur again.

Yuval Rabin, son of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was at Limmud to inaugurate the Rabin Cutural Center and unveil a memorial to his family in their ancestral village of Sidorovichi, said, “Thanks to Limmud, I have been able to bring about a dream of my father who wished to close the circle of our family’s roots a dream which he was unable to realize as he was assassinated a month after he opened the Israel Cultural Center in Kiev.”