Writing the Next Chapters of Jewish History

Earlier this week, COJECO, the Council of Jewish Émigré Community Organizations, celebrated 10 years. [COJECO is an umbrella of 41 community-based groups that serves the New York Russian speaking Jewish community.]

According to John Ruskay, UJA-Federation of New York’s executive vice president and CEO, the 2001 New York Jewish population study brought to the forefront that 1 in 5 members of their community were Russian speaking and that “an umbrella organization was needed to bring together all sides that interact with UJA-Federation. The Federation provided the initial funding, and initiatives such as Center Without Walls and Blueprint Fellows Leadership Development Program were subsequently launched.”

The event was also an opportunity to honor Sandy Cahn, one of the co-founders of Limmud FSU, for her extensive volunteer work on behalf of Russian speaking Jews. Sandy, according to John Ruskay, is a leader with “commitment passion, smarts and humor.”

In addressing the audience, Ruskay spoke passionately about the remarkable times we live in. On the one hand, “Threats persist, but we enjoy unprecedented affluence, influence, and acceptance.” In singling out the work of Limmud FSU, Queens College Hillel and COJECO, all UJA-Federation of New York funded programs, Ruskay challenged the attendees,

“Can we seize this moment to create Jewish life that is sufficiently compelling; where Jews will choose to identity; affiliate; roll up their sleeves; and strengthen our communities? What a possibility!”

Concluding his remarks he said, “We have arrived at a new moment where we are writing the next chapters of Jewish history. Organizations like COJECO and FSU Limmud need to seize this opportunity. Leaders like Sandy Cahn. They will be decisive.”

image l-r: Michael Miller (exec vp JCRC-NY), Chaim Chessler, Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Sandy Cahn, John Ruskay, Matthew Bronfman