NEW YORK – A global traveler on behalf of Limmud FSU, from Moscow and Yalta to
Belarus and Israel, Matthew Bronfman welcomed guests to his home to celebrate
the movement’s 7th anniversary.
Speaking about Limmud FSU volunteers and
participants on Wednesday, Bronfman – a New York real-estate entrepreneur who
chairs the movement’s international steering committee – said, “Their passion
and their burgeoning interest in their Jewish heritage and roots reflect their
drive and desire to understand what it is to be Jewish.”
Canadian jurist Irwin Cotler spoke with those gathered about his admiration and
respect for Limmud FSU.
Cotler, an outspoken advocate for social justice
and human rights, said he was pleased to serve as the honorary chair for the
2014 Limmud FSU Canada Conference in Toronto, a first for the Russian-speaking
Canadian Jewish community.
When Cotler attended Limmud FSU Princeton last
March, he said he was inspired by the intellectual and spiritual hunger of the
participants, who were eager to understand: “What is being Jewish about?”
“Limmud FSU provides the young Russian-speaking Jews an unfettered, safe
learning environment to learn about their Jewish heritage and history and, most
important, about their place in the Jewish community.”
performance by the gifted Ukrainian vocal artist Iryna Rosenfeld, Malcolm
Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major
American Jewish Organizations, spoke eloquently. He, too, praised Limmud FSU for
its groundbreaking accomplishments in attracting young Russian-speaking Jewish
“What is so special about Limmud FSU? It is the place where we
can ask searching questions about Judaism and our own Jewish identity,”
explained Alina Bitel, chair of Limmud FSU in the United States.
Ruskay, executive vice president of UJA-Federation of New York, praised Chaim
Chesler, founder, and Sandra Cahn, co-founder, for their foresight and vision,
stressing that “Limmud FSU is an important and unique ‘growing’ Jewish learning
Chesler said, “The amazing growth of Limmud FSU – from a
few hundred in 2006 to roughly 25,000 annual participants in 2013 – showcases
the interest and yearning for Jewish knowledge throughout the Russian-speaking
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