Source: Limmud FSU
On the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the Jewish Autonomous Region, Limmud FSU gathered three hundred Jews in Birobidzhan, nearly 4,000 miles from Moscow on the Russian border with China, to celebrate and learn about Jewish heritage, history, culture and community, and to strengthen their ties to Judaism. The two-day conference included dozens of seminars, lectures and workshops, covering a wide range of topics designed to illuminate issues and educate Russian Jews in this region on their history, current affairs, the Jewish homeland, and Judaism.
At more than 60 sessions, participants delved into everything from Jewish prayer, feminism in Judaism, and Israel’s political situation, to Jews of the Russian Far East, architecture in Israel, Jewish cooking and Israeli films. Almost half the presenters came from outside the region.
The Jewish population of Birobidzhan numbers in the hundreds with young people in Russia’s Far East having only limited access to Jewish life. The Chabad-run Federation of Jewish Communities maintains rabbis in Birobidzhan and Khabarovsk, Hillel is very active in Khabarovsk, with some Jewish music groups and other programs. The Limmud gathering provided the local Jews with an opportunity for an intensive engagement with Judaism and other Jews.
Like all Limmud FSU events, this one was built and organized by a group of local volunteers sensitive to the interests of the local Jewish population. Dozens of volunteers gave of their time in the months leading up to and during the conference itself.
Limmud FSU has now brought their approach from Yalta, Minsk and Moscow not only to Birobidzhan but also to Ashkelon, Jerusalem and West Hampton, New York.