Limmud FSU Official Newsletter - March 2020

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NewsLetter 2

Limmud FSU Moldova

More than 300 young Jewish adults gathered in Chișinău for the annual conference


Limmud FSU Ukraine

Jews all around Ukraine gathered once again in the historical city of Odessa










I S S U E 6 , Ma r ch 2 0 2 0

Executive Director Departure Announcement

After ten years of exemplary service, our Executive Director Roman Kogan is leaving to pursue other career interest




Limmud FSU Moldova team.

More than 300 young Jewish adults gathered this Sunday in Chișinău, the capital of Moldova, for a 2 days-long Limmud FSU Moldova festival. The packed event, which is geared towards Russian-speaking Jews, featured an array of world-class programs and international speakers, with more than 60 lectures, activities, master classes, performances and many more. The exciting event also included a special ceremony of inauguration of a new synagogue in JCC KEDEM, taking place Sunday evening. Alexander Bilinkis, president of the Jewish Community of the Republic of Moldova, along with Alexander Weinstein and Emmanuil Grinshpun, donated the funds for the reopening of the original “Wooden” Synagogue, which was established in 1835 and nationalized in 1940. The Speaker of the Parliament Zinaida Greceanii attended the official opening and addressed the Limmud FSU participants with a special greeting: “Our task is to preserve and amplify this tradition. It is difficult to correct what happened during the most terrible tragedy of the twentieth century - the Holocaust.

Limmud FSU Moldova during one of the sessions.



MOLDOVA Limmud FSU Moldova, a dynamic and pluralistic Jewish festival of culture, creativity and learning, proved to be one of the organization’s largest local Jewish gatherings in recent years. The event, which took place at the JCC KEDEM featured wellknown presenters as the Vice President of community relations in the Genesis Philanthropy Group and former ambassador of Israel to Russia Dorit Golender, IDF major general (res.) and head of the Institute for National Security Research at Tel Aviv University Amos Yadlin, Rabbi of the Jewish community of Moldova Shimshon (Daniel) Isakson, Chief scientist of the Ministry of Aliya and Absorption in Israel Ze’ev Khanin, Jewish comedian and actress from Russia Klara Novikova, a well-known writer and television presenter Boris Burda from Ukraine and more. “Our annual events have become an integral part of the rich communal life of the Moldovan Jewry. The passionate commitment of the volunteers and the high level of the program are the definite proof of the flourish of the Jewish community in this country.” said Limmud FSU founder Chaim Chesler.

Vice President of community relations in the Genesis Philanthropy Group Dorit Golender: “Genesis Philanthropy Group’s mission is to develop and enhance a sense of Jewish identity among Russian-speaking Jews worldwide by supporting initiatives that ensure preservation of Jewish culture, heritage, and values in Russians-speaking Jewish communities across the globe. Since its inauguration, Limmud FSU has proven itself to be one of the leading global Russian-speaking Jewish projects, and we are happy to be partners in this commendable enterprise.” Limmud FSU Moldova was sponsored by the Jewish Community of Moldova, Genesis Philanthropy Group (GPG), The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), Euro - Asian Jewish Congress (EAJC), Claims Conference, Nativ, Joel Passick. The event was made possible by a team of local leaders and volunteers, led by Limmud FSU Executive Director Roman Kogan and Project Manager Galina Rybnikova including Julia Sheinman (Chair), Egor Yertagayev, Riva Koksharova and others.

Speaker of the Parliament Zinaida Grecfeanii, Chaim Chesler and Alexander Bilinkis.


Limmud FSU Moldova sessions.

Maj. Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin at his session.

Chief Rabbi of Jews in Romania Rafael Shaffer at Limmud FSU Moldova.

Katya Katsman’s session at Limmud FSU Moldova.

Limmud FSU Moldova.

Limmud FSU Moldova session.


HONOURING AHARON APPELFELD AND NAVA SEMEL IN CHERNIVTSI A request for permission to place a memorial plaque in the city center in honor of Semel will be submitted by the Jewish community


ozens of local citizens, officials and 70 members of the Limmud FSU Ukraine organizing committee who arrived in the city to plan the annual event in Odessa, took part in the launch of an exhibition honouring two Israeli cultural icons, the writers Aharon Appelfeld and Nava Semel, both of whom had a close connection to the city of Chernivtsi, with its deep historical and important Jewish heritage. Appelfeld and Semel wrote extensively about the city and an exhibition – “My Chernivtsi - two authors, two generations “- on display at the State University of Chernivtsi, tells the story of this connection and its effect on their creative work. The exhibition was initiated by Limmud FSU founder Chaim Chesler, and curated by Dr. Joel Rappel, the founder of the Elie Wiesel archives in Boston University. Semel’s husband, Noam Semel, the long-time director of the Cameri Theater in Tel Aviv, attended the exhibition launch, together with their daughter, Ealeal Semel, also a theater director. As part of the launch at the university a symposium on the life of the two writers was held with the participation of leading local officials, including the mayor of Chernivtsi, Oleksii Kaspruk, Vice Governor of the Chernivtsi region, Vasilii Gostyuk, Chairman of the Jewish community of Chernivtsi, Ilya Hoch, the Chief Rabbi of the Chernivtsi region Menachem-Mendel Glitsenstein, the Vice-Rector Editor’s note of Chernivtsi State University, Tamara Marusik, among others. Following the event, it was announced that, in the wake of Limmud FSU’s initiative, a request for permission to place a memorial plaque in the city center in honor of Nava Semel, will be submitted by the Jewish community of Chernivtsi to the local authorities, with the aim of dedicating it in 2020. Noam Semel said: “This event was a very emotional for me, my daughter and for our family. Nava was not born in Chernivtsi and did not actually live there, but she wrote about it as if she did, with her parent’s experiences beautifully reflected in her stories. We are very excited about the possibility of the city honouring Nava with a memorial.” Limmud FSU founder Chaim Chesler added; “This is our first time in Chernivtsi, a city so full of rich Jewish history, and many notable people who were born or had deep roots here. Holding our Limmud FSU Ukraine volunteers’ seminar and the special exhibition here - are proof that Jewish history is not forgotten.” Vice-Governor of the Chernivtsi region Vasilii Gostyuk remarked that: “We are grateful for this unique opportunity from which we can learn, so we can tell people more about our joint history and appreciate it.” The preparatory seminar in Chernivtsi took place with the generous support of the Pincus Fund for Jewish Education, and the Hesed - Shushan charitable fund. The Limmud FSU Ukraine 2019 festival was led by Limmud FSU Executive Director Roman Kogan, Project Manager Galina Rybnikova, chair of programming committee Lera Ogorodnyk, chair of volunteers committee Dasha Yefimenko, chair of the public relations committee Yevgeniy Khorzgevskiy, chair of the special events committee Valeria Kholodova, chair of participants care committee Olena Kolpakova, chair of logistics committee Katya Zubko and many more.



The corator of the exhibition Dr. Joel Rappel, Limmud FSU founder Chaim Chesler, Noam Semel, Chairman of the Jewish community of Chernivtsi Ilya Hoch and Ealeal Semel.

L-R : Ealeal Semel, curator of the exhibition Dr. Joel Rappel, Limmud FSU Public Affairs Director Natasha Chechik, Limmud FSU founder Chaim Chesler, Direcot of the Chernivtsi theater Yuriy Marchak, and Noam Semel.


Limmud FSU Ukraine’s children. Courtesy of Boris Bukhman. Limmud FSU Ukraine team. Courtesy of Boris Bukhman.

More more than 600 members of the

Jewish community of Ukraine gathered for the 13th annual volunteer-driven festival of Jewish learning organized by Limmud FSU. The event took place once again and for the fifth time in Odessa, one of the most important cities of Jewish and Zionist movement’s history, after a highly successful 2017’s event. There are about 400,000 Jews in Ukraine, with more than 45,000 in Odessa. Moreover, this year marks 100 years since the departure of the “Ruslan” ship from Odessa, on board of which there were dozens of Jewish cultural figures of that time - those who were destined to determine the intellectual life of Israel. A special exhibition on the event was presented at the conference, as well as some lectures on the topic. Among keynote speakers were Justice Elyakim Rubinstein, former Deputy President of the Supreme Court of Israel and Attorney General; Dorit Golender, Genesis Philanthropy Group (GPG) VicePresident for External Relations and former Israeli Ambassador to Russia; Felix Gurvich, Advisor to the Embassy of the State in Ukraine, Director of the Representative offices of Nativ in Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Central Asia and the Caucasus region; Gary Aidekman, JDC Board member from the United States; Gideon Mitchnik, Ze’ev Jabotinsky’s institute director; Dr. Igor Shchupak, Director of “Tkuma” - the Ukrainian Institute for Holocaust Studies; legendary actor Veniamin Smekhov

(Moscow); Ilya Axelrod, a noted comedian (Israel); Yevgeny Kogan, president of the Moscow Partners investment group (Moscow) and many more. Chaim Chesler, founder of Limmud FSU, said; “It is a great honor for us to be here again, in the historical city of Odessa, and to celebrate this Limmud FSU festival with a wonderful, prosperous local Jewish community.” The Deputy Mayor of Odessa Pavel Vugelman told the participants during the opening event on Thursday night: “To host Limmud FSU is a great honor for us. The best people of the world come to Odessa, share their experiences, educate our youth and pass on the centuries-old wisdom of the Jewish people. We are pleased that such distinguished guests visit us, thereby glorifying our long Jewish history, strengthening our ties with the state of Israel, with the Israeli cultural center “Nativ”, which is one of the landmark projects in the city.” Osik Akselrud, Limmud FSU Ukraine Chair and Director of Hillel in Ukraine added: “Limmud FSU is all about the people, knowledge, communication and a vivid example of community life. In Odessa, more than 600 people from 14 countries of the world took part in our annual event, including many of young adults, which is extremely important to Hillel, and our whole community as well.” Dorit Golender: “It is highly symbolic and appropriate that Limmud FSU comes to Odessa - the historical center of Jewish

national and intellectual revival, the city from which the pioneering spirit of Russian Jewry came all the way to the Land of Israel. Genesis Philanthropy Group, whose main mission is to develop and enhance the Jewish identity of Russian-speaking Jews, is happy to support Limmud FSU - one of the leading initiatives of Russian-speaking Jews worldwide.” Mila Gold (20) from Dnepr: “It’s my first time at Limmud FSU, and I’m simply amazed by the energy, the quality of the program and the atmosphere. It really makes you proud of your Jewishness.” Limmud FSU Ukraine was made possible thanks to the team of local leaders and volunteers, led by Project Manager Galina Rybnikova and Limmud FSU executive director Roman Kogan, together with the volunteers’ committee chair, Dasha Yefimenko from Rovno; program committee chair, Valeria Ogorodnik from Uzhgorod; public relations and marketing committee chair, Zhenya Khorzhevskiy from Odessa; the participants’ experience committee chair, Olena Kolpakova from Dnepr; and others. The festival enjoyed the generous support of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, Genesis Philanthropy Group (GPG), AllUkrainian Jewish congress headed by Vadim Rabinovich, Dutch Jewish Humanitarian Fund, The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee – JDC, Nativ – Israel Primeminister’s office, the Claims Conference, Joel Passick, and other Limmud FSU International funders.




Limmud FSU Ukraine team. Courtesy of Boris Bukhman.

L-R : Executive Director Roman Kogan, Justice Elykim Rubinstein, Deputy Mayor Pavel Vugelman and Founder Chaim Chesler. Courtesy of Boris Bukhman.

Limmud FSU Ukraine’s children. Courtesy of Boris Bukhman.

Workshop at Limmud FSU Ukraine. Courtesy of Boris Bukhman.

Havdala at Limmud FSU Ukraine. Courtesy of Boris Bukhman.

Limmud FSU Ukraine. Courtesy of Boris Bukhman.





immud FSU celebrated its bat-mitzva – 12 years of educational activities in Israel with a three-day festival which this year took place for the first time in the city of Ashdod which has a large population of Russianspeakers. The pluralistic conference, run entirely by volunteers, attracted more than 700 young Russian-speaking Israelis, most of them between the ages of 20-45. The festival, held in partnership with Ashdod Municipality, took place in the Leonardo Plaza hotel and hosted some noted public figures, including Justice Elyakim Rubinstein, the former DeputyPresident of the Supreme Court; MK Avigdor Liberman, former defense minister; Limmud FSU Chair of the International Steering Committee Matthew Bronfman; Limmud FSU President and EAJC Chairman Aaron Frenkel; Dorit Golender, Vice-President for Community Relations at the Genesis Philanthropy Group; Isaac Herzog, Chair of the Jewish Agency Executive; Shimon Katznelson, deputy mayor of Ashdod; Sofa Landver, former Minister for Immigration; Limmud FSU co-founder Sandra F. Cahn; Prof. Zeev Khanin, chief scientist of the Ministry of Immigration; Prof. Dina Porat, chief historian of Yad Vashem; Ambassador Uri Palti; Sar-Shalom Jerbi, director of the Education and Community Division of the Jewish National Fund (KKL); and many more. The festival also featured a memorial to the late Russian cosmonaut, Alexei Leonov, the first man to walk in space who died in October. The event featured a message from the American astronaut Garrett Reisman, who was a guest of honor together with Leonov at Limmud FSU 2011 in Beersheba. Igor Martynov, the advisor to the Russian Embassy in Israel said that during the 2011 event, Leonov had noted the cosmic character of the Israelis, striving to survive in any circumstances. “It is indeed symbolic that these words were said in the city built in the desert, thanks solely to the efforts of the Jewish people” said Martynov.

Limmud FSU President Aaron Frenkel said; “Unity is a much needed today more than ever, and Limmud FSU has been uniting people for many, many years now. The Diaspora cries out for Limmud, and unfortunately, we are currently losing parts of our humane reserve and support of the Jews worldwide. Therefore, it is crucial that each and every one of us do his and her best to be together, to volunteer, to deepen and strengthen Jewish identity, and to be involved in the life of the Jewish people.” Among the festival’s highlights was the inauguration of an exhibition in honor of Justice Rubinstein, curated by Prof. Aviad HaCohen, Dean of the Sha’arei Hamishpat College of Law. Among dignitaries attending the event were former Supreme Court judges, Yoram Danziger and Ayala Procaccia; Maj. Gen. Amos Gilad and former head of the Mossad, Ephraim Halevy. Chair of the International Steering Committee Matthew Bronfman said; “At Limmud we strive to represent the widest possible range of Jews around the world. It is not important if you are on the left or right or center: we only care for your Jewish soul and that is what Limmud is all about – connection to the Jewish soul in each person who walks through our doors.” Deputy Mayor of Ashdod Shimon Katznelson said; “I am grateful to Limmud FSU for choosing Ashdod to host this wonderful festival of knowledge this year. It is very special and symbolic for us, and we are grateful for this opportunity to welcome everyone to our city.” In response, the founder of Limmud FSU, Chaim Chesler, said “We are excited to be holding the festival in the wonderful city of Ashdod, which has provided us with great support.” The co-founder, Sandra F. Cahn, added :”It’s our honor to continue the magnificent legacy of extremely successful Limmud FSU events in Israel here in Ashdod, and we hope to continue to do for many years to come.”

Dorit Golender, Vice-President for Community Relations at the Genesis Philanthropy Group: “The future of the Jewish people belongs to the young generation, and the impact of such projects as Limmud FSU is especially important for children and teenagers. This is why I was so impressed by the sophistication and popularity of the youth program here at Limmud FSU in Ashdod. We are proud that, with the support of the Genesis Philanthropy Group, the youngest participants of Limmud could connect with the history of their nation and their state, and strengthen ties with their peers from all over the country. “ Chair of the Jewish Agency Executive Isaac Herzog said during the closing event: “We cannot bury our heads in the sand: it is our duty to give an answer to the many challenges that confront us, some of which are similar to those in the past - antisemitism, hatred of Jews, hatred of Israel, as well as rifts within Jewish society itself. The Jewish Agency is committed to help in strengthening Jewish communities in the face of antisemitism which is again raising its head.” The 2019 Limmud FSU Israel Festival was supported by the Municipality of Ashdod, the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, the Genesis Philanthropy Group, Mif’al Hapayis, KKL, the Conference for Jewish Material Claims against Germany, and others. It was mounted by a devoted group of volunteers under the direction of Limmud FSU Executive Director, Roman Kogan, project manager Ira Zdanovych, chair of the Participant Care Committee, Alex Agranov; chair of the Marketing Committee, Pavel Pivovarov; co-chairs of Volunteers committee, Anna Karpuhina and Daniel Zhezmer; co-chairs of the Logistics Committee, Angelina Dementyeva and Max Rusinov, Programming committee members and others.




L-R: Limmud FSU President Aaron G Frenkel, Limmud FSU founder Chaim Chesler, Prof. Aviad Hacohen, Justice Elyakim Rubinstein, MK Avigdor Lieberman and Limmud FSU Chair of the International Steering Committee Matthew Bronfman.

Limmud FSU Israel’s atmosphere. Courtesy of Dmitry Melnichansky.

Limmud FSU Israel.

Limmud FSU Israel.

Vadim Blumin’s session ar Limmud FSU Israel.

L-R : Limmud FSU co-founder Sandra Cahn, Limmud FSU founder Chaim Chesler, Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac ‘Bougie’ Herzog, Justice Elyakim Rubinstein, Limmud FSU Chair of the International Steering Committee Matthew Bronfman.



Limmud FSU leadership and participants at the event.


day of Limmud FSU Israel start, Limmud FSU together with Amigour, the Jewish Agency public housing subsidiary company that provides sheltered housing to elderly FSU immigrants, and the Jewish Agency, organized a ceremony marking the centenary took place in Jaffa port, a few meters from where the ship had landed. The festive event was attended by a group of young Russian-speaking youth, and a group of distinguished people whose ancestors were among that group of immigrants. They included Prof. Fania Oz-Salzberger, whose great uncle, Prof. Yosef Klausner, was on the vessel, Uri Milstein, great nephew of the poet Rachel, Amnon Rechter, whose grandfather, Zeev Rechter, the noted architect who built, among other iconic buildings, the Frederic Mann Auditorium (now called the Bronfman Auditorium), Binyanei HaUma in Jerusalem, and the Tel Aviv District Court building, was also among those who arrived in pre-state Israel on board the Ruslan The event was enlivened by a group of

some 15 elderly olim from the FSU who now live in Amigour sheltered housing complexes, and who sang songs in Russian, Yiddish and Hebrew, with the folk singer, Dorit Reuveni, contributing ballads and songs of Eretz Israel of that period. The Ruslan re-enactment set off the eleventh Limmud FSU three-day festival of Jewish learning that took place in Ashdod with some 800 Russian-speaking participants from across the country. The arrival of the Ruslan on the shores of Palestine was an epochal event. The Jewish population of the entire country at the time was only about 65,000, so that the new arrivals represented more than one percent of the Jewish yishuv. Its importance lay not only in the number of men and women involved, but in the fact that many of them became extremely prominent in the arts, literature, academia, architecture and medicine. Among the new arrivals was also Rosa Cohen, known as “Red Rosa,” mother of prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, Baruch Agadati, who

introduced dance to Israel, Moshe Glikman, the first editor of the Ha’aretz newspaper, Yehuda Magidovitch, a prominent architect and the first chief engineer of Tel Aviv, Dr. Haim Yassky, who would later serve as the director of Hadassa Hospital and was murdered when a convoy of hospital staff was ambushed on the way to the hospital in 1948. Among others celebrating the vent were Justice Elyakim Rubinstein, former Supreme Court vice-president, whose uncle was on the Ruslan, Matthew Bronfman, chair of the Limmud FSU International Steering Committee, Chaim Chesler, founder of Limmud FSU, the organization’s co-founder, Sandra Cahn, and historian Dr. Yoel Rappel, who compered the event. “Marking the arrival of the Ruslan is a tribute to those early Russian-speaking pioneers who are an inspiration to us all,” said Chesler, “and were the forerunners of the one million Russian-speaking immigrants who, over the past 20 years, have so enriched our modern society.”



A joint regional Limmud FSU/Nahum Goldmann Fellowship. Courtesy of Boris Brumin.


the first time, a joint regional Limmud FSU/Nahum Goldmann Fellowship meeting took place in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, with the participation of young Jews from across the former Soviet Union. During an intensive three days, the young participants, Jewish professionals and lay leaders, confronted and debated issues and questions relevant to their own communities and to future Jewish identity and Jewish community in the FSU. Limmud FSU has a growing network of volunteers living within the former Soviet Union who are committed to developing their own personal Jewish journey. The Nahum Goldmann Fellowship (NGF) has a large network of alumni living in the FSU who are looking for opportunities for regional and global connection, leadership development, and continued Jewish education. This partnership was born with the goal of enriching and inspiring NGF alumni, Limmud FSU volunteers and new participants alike and for creating the opportunity for cross-communal and crosscountry collaborations Several leading international scholars joined scholars from local communities to speak at the meeting, including Prof. Moshe Halbertal, Professor of Jewish Thought and Philosophy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Dr. Anna Shternshis, Professor of Yiddish Studies at the University of Toronto;



Dr. Dmitry Maryasis, Director-General of the Russia-Israel Business Council, Rabbi Grisha Abramovich, Chief Rabbi of the Religious Union for Progressive Judaism in Belarus; and others. The program for the meeting, which was conducted in Russian and English, was based on the NGF model that has proven remarkably successful for over three decades in forging powerful connections between members of the Global NGF network, thus motivating them to further involvement in Jewish communal life. The program was constructed by an organizing committee consisting of NGF alumni from the FSU and Limmud FSU volunteers, overseen by Roman Kogan, Executive Director of Limmud FSU and Rabbi Jeni Friedman, Executive Vice-President of the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture (the organization that runs the Nahum Goldmann Fellowship). One of the participants, Talina Nechamkina from Vilnius, said: “For me the Fellowship was a unique opportunity to expand my knowledge, and to get to know new people with a mind-set similar to mine. I shall return home with a much stronger sense of what is involved today to be a Jewish community leader.” Alex Furs, fromMinsk added, “it was very special to be present in such a heart-warming atmosphere, and to be able to communicate our thoughts about the future of theJewish community in the

FSU in such an innovative and inspiring way. The experience and knowledge I gained will be useful for me in my future engagement with my own local community.” Executive Director of Limmud FSU, Roman Kogan stated, “We are very proud of this joint project and for the partnership with the MFJC. Although the mandates of our organizations are different, there is much that we share regarding ideology, philosophy and attitude towards Jewish communal and educational life, including pluralism, the value of learning, respect for different views, and we are happy to help facilitate this educational platform for the participants and volunteers”. “The Regional Nahum Goldmann Fellowships create an opportunity for participants to reflect on their contemporary reality and experience inJewish communal life, and discuss with their peers issues of Jewish identity,”said Executive VicePresident of the MFJC, Rabbi Jeni Friedman. “Each program is an immersive experience offering deep learning opportunities and creating meaningful connections crossing geographical, ideological and denominational divides. We are grateful for our partnership with Limmud FSU, which is bringing back to the region a new generation of Jewish professional and communal lay leaders.”


Courtesy of Boris Brumin.

Courtesy of Boris Brumin.

Participants at the joint regional seminar. Courtesy of Boris Brumin.

L-R : Limmud FSU Executive Director Roman Kogan, MFJC Associate Director David Jacobson, Limmud FSU Public Affairs Director Natasha Chechik, MFJC Executive Vice-President Jeni Friedman, Limmud FSU Logistics Director Yan Birbraer.

Courtesy of Boris Brumin.

Dr. Dmitry Maryasis. Courtesy of Boris Brumin.




he Jewish community of Belarus held a memorial event in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, to honor Kirk Douglas, the iconic Hollywood actor who died last week in Los Angeles at the age of 103. This special event was held during a joint Limmud FSU/Regional Nahum Goldmann Fellowship and included a special remembrance prayer and a minute’s silence, conducted by the Chief Rabbi of Minsk, Rabbi Shneur Deutsch and Chief Rabbi of the Progressive Jewish community of Belarus Grisha Abramovich. Douglas, who was born in Amsterdam, New York on 9 December 1916, as Issur Danielowitz was the son of Yiddish-speaking Jews from the Mogilev region of Belarus. The film star was noted for his deep support over many years for the State of Israel and stated that even when he was engaged in filming, he always made a point of fasting on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement.) Participating in the ceremony were many young Jews from the whole of Belarus as well as from other countries of the former Soviet Union, including Russia and Ukraine. “This evening this community honored the memory of one of its greatest descendants, who in addition to being a world-renowned movie star, was first of all a proud Jew,” stated Chaim Chesler, founder of Limmud FSU. “Even the young members of the Jewish community of Belarus, know about and honor Kirk Douglas and that is evidence, more than anything else, of the special connection that existed between the star, his Judaism in general and Jewish history in particular.”

Chief Rabbi of Minsk, Rabbi Shneur Deutsch. Courtesy of Boris Brumin.



Limmud FSU Executive Director Roman Kogan at the event. Courtesy of Boris Brumin

LIMMUD FSU Limmud FSU Europe team and leadership. Courtesy of Larry Luxner.

600 people gathered in the end of February for Limmud FSU Europe, which took place for the first time in the Austrian capital, following the success of the 2017 event in London. Young Jewish Russian-speaking Jews from Germany, UK, Lithuania, France, Switzerland, Sweden and other countries, participated in a packed conference featuring a program of world-class presentations and speakers from around the globe. In the best tradition of Limmud FSU, and thanks to its volunteer-driven base, the dynamic and pluralistic Jewish festival of culture, creativity and learning featured panels, workshops, lectures and discussions on subjects ranging from the arts, to Jewish culture and tradition, history, politics, the Middle East, business and lifestyle. A highquality special program for children was provided with a wide array of activities for different age groups. The event attracted some leading public figures and officials including the Minister for the European Union in the Austrian Chancellery Karoline Edtstadler; Ambassador of Israel to Austria Mordechai D. Rodgold; philanthropist and Limmud FSU President Aaron G. Frenkel; entrepreneur and Chairman of the Limmud FSU International Steering Committee Matthew Bronfman; President of the Jewish Community of Vienna Oskar Deutsch; President and CEO of the Genesis Philanthropy Group Ilia Salita; Chief Cantor of the Jewish Community of Vienna Shmuel Barzilai; Limmud FSU founder Chaim Chesler; Limmud FSU Co-Founder and Financial Resource Development Chair Sandra F. Cahn; head of the UK delegation of the WZO Izchak Sonnenschein; the granddaughter of Simon Wiesenthal, the famed Nazi hunter, Dr. Racheli Kreisberg; Israeli TV presenter. chef and journalist Gil Hovav; Russian collector and publicist Marat Gelman; flash fiction author and poet Linor Goralik and more. The gala evening also included a special performance by the Jazz virtuoso


Leonid Ptashka together with blues and jazz singer Roy Young. Another highlight of the conference was a launching of a special exhibition, “anti-Semitism, a history portrayed”, a product of cooperation between Limmud FSU and the World Zionist Organization, curated by Dr. Joel Rappel. In an emotional speech at the gala, Minister Karoline Edtstadler delivered a blessing from Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, and also praised a resolution passed by the Austrian government last Thursday condemning the BDS campaign as anti-Semitic: “Europe wants to show the world that we are united, that we will fight against anti-Semitism. If Jewish life is under pressure - Europe is under pressure. Fighting anti- Semitism is not a responsibility of Jewish Europeans, but that of all of us.” Aaron G. Frenkel said, “Our second event in Western Europe and the first in the beautiful city of Vienna, is a significant milestone for Limmud FSU. We are grateful for the support we have received from the Austrian government, the local Jewish community and our partners, and I am glad to note that the efforts of our volunteers were extremely successful and crucial for the success of the event.” In addressing the participants, Matthew Bronfman said, “This Limmud FSU Europe in Vienna has been an amazing experience. I want to thank you all - showing up here is a sign, a symbol. I particularly want to thank those who came here with their children because our job is to teach the next generation. Whether it is by visiting concentration camps, participating in rallies, or advocating for the Jewish people, it is our obligation to pass the message on.” Chaim Chesler said, “We are excited to see that our second event in Western Europe has been such a success, and it is the best possible testimony to the fact that the Russian-Jewish community here is resurgent and flourishing.” Co-founder of Limmud FSU, Sandra F. Cahn added: “We look forward to

continuing our efforts so as to contribute to the tremendous vitality of Russian-speaking Jewish life here, and to inspire more and more young people to become active members of their local Jewish communities.” Ilia Salita added, “The inspiring success of Limmud FSU Europe Vienna is yet another testament to the resurgent dynamism of the global community of Russian-speaking Jews, who are raising - in Europe, in America, in Israel and the former Soviet Union - to reclaim their identity and legacy and to fully become a part of the Jewish world. Genesis Philanthropy Group is proud to support this momentous trend, which holds the potential to invigorate, enhance and empower the Jewish life and the Jewish people.” Limmud FSU Europe enjoyed the generous support of the Genesis Philanthropy Group; Conference for Jewish Material Claims against Germany; National Fund of the Republic of Austria for Victims of National Socialism; Future Fund of the Republic of Austria; Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research; the City of Vienna, World Zionist Organization, World Jewish Congress – International Yiddish Center in Vilnius and Joel Passick among others. The event was made possible thanks to the team of local leaders and volunteers, under the direction of Limmud FSU Executive Director Roman Kogan and the project management team, Dimitri Mevzos and Linor Kiknadze, together with the chair of the Programming Committee Natalia Kantovich; chair of the PR and Marketing Committee Evgeniy Pisetsky; chair of the Logistics Committee Julia Bakman; chair of the Participants Care Committee Shoshana Kandel; chair of the Children’s Program Committee Marina Lomberg, chair of the Volunteer’s Committee Anastasia Kantovich; chair of the International Representatives (“Ambassadors”) Committee Helen Medvinska and many others.




Limmud FSU Europe 2020.

R-L : Aaron G. Frenkel, Chaim Chesler, Minister Karoline Edtstadler, Matthew Bronfman and Sandra F. Cahn.

L-R : Ilia Salita, Chaim Chesler, Minister Karoline Edtstadler, Matthew Bronfman, Ambassador Mordechai D. Rodgold, Dr. Joel Rappel.

Chief Cantor of the Jewish Community of Vienna Shmuel Barzilai at the Havdalah.

Chair of the Volunteer’s Committee Anastasia Kantovich, Project management team member Dimitri Mevzos and PR and Marketing Committee chair Evgeniy Pisetsky.

Yulia Patrakova’s session at Limmud FSU Europe.



Marching in Mauthausen concentration camp. Courtesy of Yevhen Zavhorodnii.


the beginning of March, a special event marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Mauthausen concentration camp by the American army, took place on the grounds of the camp which now serve as a museum. A march and memorial ceremony, initiated by Limmud FSU, honored one of camp’s most noted survivors – the famed Austrian Jewish Nazi hunter and writer, Simon Wiesenthal. Wiesenthal’s granddaughter, Racheli Kreisberg, was the event’s guest of honor, and had come from Israel for her first visit at the site. She led a march that started from the hospital building where her grandfather was incarcerated in the infamous camp, where for seven years, some 200,000 people from 28 nationalities were brutally murdered by the Nazis. Participating in the march were young Jewish adults from all over Europe, taking part in the annual Limmud FSU Europe event which took place this year in Vienna. The group walked in silence, memorial candles in hand, through the camp gates to

a memorial located on one of the cliffs at the outskirts of the camp, dedicated to the 33,000 Jewish victims of Mauthausen. The procession was led by Kreisberg, New York philanthropist and Limmud FSU Chairman Matthew Bronfman, chief cantor of Vienna Shmuel Barzilai, Limmud FSU founder Chaim Chesler, founder of Elie Wiesel’s archive Dr. Joel Rappel and World Zionist Organization Representative in the UK, Izchak Sonnenschein. “My grandfather had arrived at the Mauthausen concentration camp in Feb 1945. This was the last station of the death march, at which he was forced. Upon his arrival he was too weak and ill to work in the stone quarries and therefore he was sent to the so-called camp hospital, the place to die.”, Kreisberg told the participants during her speech at the memorial ceremony, “But against all odds he survived, weighing 35 kg, and at the age of 39 was faced with the devastating questions of so many survivors: where is my family? who else has survived? how will I restart my lives?”

Bronfman quoting Wiesenthal said: “For evil to flourish, it only requires good men to do nothing.” He added, “Looking at the picturesque villages on these beautiful hills, one cannot truly comprehend, how is it possible that so many chose to stand on the side-lines of history, doing nothing, saying nothing. This is one of the most important lessons that we can learn and do everything in our power to educate future generations. This is the same lesson that Simon Wiesenthal dedicated his life to never stand aside while injustice is taking place. Always take sides, and never be afraid to speak out and condemn evil. ”At the end of the emotional ceremony, Kreisberg, fighting back her tears, received an award in memory of her grandfather’s heroic actions. In concluding the ceremony, Chesler said, “We of Limmud FSU are proud to commemorate and honor this great man’s life’s work in his pursuit of Nazi criminals war and his single-minded devotion to tracking them down and exposing their evil actions.”




At the Jewish memorial. Courtesy of Yevhen Zavhorodnii.

L-R : Chaim Chesler, Matthew Bronfman, Cantor Shmuel Barzilai, Dr. Joel Rappel and Izchak Sonnenschein. Courtesy of Yevhen Zavhorodnii.

Courtesy of Yevhen Zavhorodnii.

At the Jewish memorial. Courtesy of Yevhen Zavhorodnii.

At Mauthausen gates. Courtesy of Yevhen Zavhorodnii.

Racheli Kreisberg. Courtesy of Yevhen Zavhorodnii.



Limmud FSU Community Labs - a joint project with the Israeli Ministry of Diaspora affairs: 11 coordinators have been recruited, across the globe, as well as an Israel-based Project manager Gabi Farberov. The first batch of proposals, received from the field towards the end of 2019, was almost overwhelming and is clearly indicative of the hunger for ongoing educational programming and, no less, of the success of Limmud FSU in providing a unique framework for Jewish learning and activism. Fully 140 proposals were submitted and the 40 judged most suitable and realizable selected for support in the first year.

First seminar of Limmud FSU Labs initiators taking place during Limmud FSU Europe 2020 in Vienna.

Israeli Cooking Night, founded by Sapir and Paula Dvuchbabny - a young brother and sister Limmud FSU Labs initiators in Volga-Ural Region are learning about marketing in social duo who are passionate about bringing the Russian-Jewish Youth together in Sydney, through media and they are hi motivated to implement their initiatives a range of activities and events - Limmud FSU Pop Up project.


Purim celebrations around USA with Limmud FSU Labs.

Formation and training of Limmud FSU volunteers’ group during the year for the next exciting Limmud conference in Sant Petersburg.

Young volunteers in Moscow cooking together with old people their family dish, and also writing their personal histories.

Natalya Melnichenko leads the “Jewish Leadership Course” in order to develop the next generation of young community educators in the Republic of Moldova.

Jewish Eco-Project “CACTUS” in Minsk, Belarus - caring about ecology and the environment and learning what the Torah and Jewish tradition teaches us about this.

Art-Limmud Labs seminar with lectures, master classes and art studios that prepared young people to lead art projects in 5 cities in Ukraine: Kiev, Lviv, Dnieper, Kharkiv and Odessa.



EDUCATIONAL ACTIVITES IN THE UNITED STATES A series of activities around the globe present opportunities for Limmud FSU volunteer leaders to enrich their Jewish literacy and hone their leadership skills. In New York and the San Francisco Bay Area, these programs were supported by the Covenant Foundation.

New York : “Shashlik in the Sukka” was attended by more than 70. The main speaker was Rabbi Benjamin Goldschmidt, who talked about the significance and traditions of Sukkot.

New York: Study Sunday addressed by Professor Zvi Gitelman, professor of political science and Judaic studies at Michigan University, on “The story of Jewish migration from the Russian Empire, the USSR and its successor states is dramatic and crucial to the culture, demography and history of Israel, the United States and Germany,” and Yehiel Fishzon of the Eshkolot Jewish Education Initiative, on “Jabotinsky in reflection of his era: The prophet. The judge. The “liberator,” and attended by 35 activists.

San Francisco - A Study Sunday with Rabbi Dov Ber Cohen entitled “Innovation Incubator” attracted 30 volunteers and activists to a session that sought to provide participants with tools for Jewish leadership and identify what qualities and skills leadership requires. Other activities included Tikkun Leil Shavuot that was attended by some 100 people andincluded learning sessions on Jewish geography and history against the background of an international timeline, keeping Shabbat at the North Pole, the traditions of Shavuot in different communities. Also - Sukkot was celebrated by 35 organizing committee members and volunteers.



Limmud FSU’s Board of Directors has been informed by Executive Director Roman Kogan, that after ten years of exemplary service and numerous achievements, he will be leaving the position to pursue other career interests as of June 30, 2020. Under Roman’s exceptional leadership and guidance, Limmud FSU has expanded its operation to 9 countries serving 10,000 young Russian-speaking Jews a year, in 12 different locations worldwide. Roman has overseen the global volunteer network and training, and has run our operation with professional skill, integrity, intelligence, strong commitment to Limmud FSU’s mission and values. He is highly respected by our partner organizations, donors, foundations as well as by Limmud FSU’s leadership, professional staff, management and teams of volunteers worldwide. Under Roman’s tenure we embarked on a highly promising strategic plan to chart our direction for the future. He leaves an exceptionally talented team in place and the organization in an excellent position for its continued growth. We wish Roman the best in all his future endeavors, and are deeply grateful for helping Limmud FSU grow and develop to the organization it has become. His passion, devotion and commitment to Limmud FSU as our Executive Director will be sincerely missed.



Limmud FSU will immediately commence the process of locating and appointing a Chief Executive Officer. Matthew Bronfman, Chairman of the International Steering Committee Chaim Chesler, Founder and Chairman of the Executive Committee Sandra Cahn, Co-Founder and FRD Committee Chair

SAVE THE DATES : NEXT LIMMUD FSU EVENTS Dear friends, due to the COVID -19 outbreak, we thought it prudent to postpone our upcoming events scheduled to Spring 2020: Limmud FSU Canada, which was scheduled for the end of March 2020 - new date is November 13-15, 2020. Limmud FSU Moscow scheduled for the second half of April 2020 - will be in the best tradition of Limmud held in April of 2021.Limmud FSU New York scheduled for mid-May 2020, new dates will be announced as soon as the decision is made.



November November Autumn 20’ December

Limmud FSU Volga-Urals

Limmud FSU Australia

Limmud FSU Ukraine


fter taking a break, Limmud FSU Volga-Urals will take place in the city of Kazan!



e are happy he annual to announce Ukraine’s event is Limmud FSU Australia back to our beloved will be back in city of Lviv! Autumn 2020! November 5-8, 2020

Limmud FSU Canada


uch anticipated 3-day event in Toronto will take place in the beautiful Blue Mountain resort! November 13-15, 2020

Limmud FSU New York


e are happy to announce that Limmud FSU New York a 3-day event is back this year!

Limmud FSU Israel


he annual Israeli event will be back in December 2020 with another packed and highquality program!




• Matthew Bronfman • • Aaron G. Frenkel • • Genesis Philanthropy Group (GPG) • • Ronald Lauder • • Michal Grayevsky • • The Ministry of Diaspora Affairs • • Conference for Jewish Material Claims Against Germany • • American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) • • Diane Wohl • • Euro-Asian Jewish Congress (EAJC) • • Genesis Philanthropy Group (GPG) • • Jewish National Fund (KKL) • • Nativ - Israel Prime - Minister’s Office • • Blavatnik Family Foundation • • Jewish Agency for Israel • • Benevity Fund • • Chester Foundation • • Covenant Foundation • • Dutch Jewish Humanitarian Fund •

• Edward Mermelstein • • Eva & Louis Galpern Foundation • • Fooksman Family Charitable Fund • • IKEA Israel • • Joel Passick • • LA Pincus Fund • • Legacy Heritage Fund • • Limmud North America - Something for everyone grant • • Merill Kraines • • Rabbi Leonid Feldman • • Ruben Landsberger • • Sandra and Stewart Cahn • • Shulem Fisher • • Tom Blumberg • • Wilf Family Foundations • • World Zionist Organization • • World Jewish Congress • • UJA Jewish Federation of New York • • UJA Jewish Federation of Greater Toronto •





Limmud FSU International Foundation EIN 26-1870256 80 Central Park West, Suite 2D, New York NY 10023, USA