The first-ever Limmud FSU West Coast conference wrapped up today in Los Angeles, drawing more than 700 Russian-speaking Jews from across Greater Los Angeles and the entire country for a three-day festival of arts, spirituality, political dialogue and learning.
The three-day conference drew major figures including hip-hop impresario Russell Simmons, who joined Rabbi Marc Schneier to discuss the Jewish response to Islamophobia; Jewish Agency Chair Natan Sharansky; Emmy Award-winning actor Ed Asner; Israeli film star Tamara Klingon; LA City Councilor Zev Yaraslovsky; Russian rock star Andrey Makarevich; Russian satirist and author Victor Shenderovich; Russian-Israeli singer Irene Talia Rosenfeld;and Russian jazz musician Leonid Ptashka. Israel’s president, Reuven Rivlin, also delivered remarks via video.
Other participants include Jewish Women’s Renaissance Founder Lori Palatnik; former Israel Defense Forces Maj. Gen. Uzi Dayan; Reut Institute President Gidi Grinstein; Member of Knesset Nachman Shai; Rabbi David Wolpe; Hillel International President and CEO Eric Fingerhut; Jewish Federations of North America CEO Jerry Silverman; LA Jewish Federation President and CEO Jay Sanderson; and LA Jewish Journal/TRIBE Media President David Suissa.
Co-chairing Limmud FSU West Coast were Sasha Shteyn and Viktorya Kernes of Los Angeles and Leo Hmelnitsky of San Francisco. Honorary chairs include Limmud FSU Board members and philanthropists Michal Grayevsky and Diane Wohl and philanthropist Ada Horwich. Also participating are Limmud FSU Chair Matthew Bronfman and 25 young leaders from the West Coast Russian-Jewish community.
“Limmud FSU has revolutionized how we strengthen the Russian-speaking Jewish community worldwide, and Limmud FSU West Coast offers a historic opportunity to engage and inspire this emerging community for generations to come,” said Limmud FSU Founder Chaim Chesler.
“We are thrilled to be bringing the premier Limmud FSU experience to the West Coast, with its fascinating Jewish history and growing Russian-speaking population,” said Limmud FSU Co-Founder Sandra Cahn.
Limmud FSU West Coast offered an eclectic lineup, from a concert by Makarevich to spiritually stirring Shabbat (Sabbath) and Havdalah (end of Shabbat) ceremonies, to interactive improvisation comedy and film screenings. The conference featured over 100 sessions on such issues as Russian-Jewish identity, the Russian-Jewish community in LA and Jewish perspectives on relationships.
There are an estimated 80,000 Russian-speaking Jews in the greater Los Angeles area, with other large Russian-speaking Jewish communities in the San Francisco Bay Area and elsewhere in California. There are some 700,000 Russian-speaking Jews in the U.S. altogether.
To learn more about the conference and see the full program, please visit: http://westcoast.limmudfsuus.org.
About Limmud FSU
Limmud FSU is a nonprofit founded 10 years ago by Chaim Chesler, former treasurer of the Jewish Agency, and Sandra Cahn, a philanthropist from New York, to serve young Russian-speaking Jews around the world. Limmud FSU brings together and empowers young Jewish adults who are revitalizing Jewish communities and culture in the countries of the former Soviet Union, as well as in countries with Russian speakers around the world. The organization operates in Belarus, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine, the U.S., Canada, Australia and Israel. Some 35,000 participants have taken part in its conferences, projects and festivals. Key partners include the Claims Conference, JDC, philanthropist Matthew Bronfman, Aaron Frankel, Diane Wohl, Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs, the Jewish National Fund (KKL), the Jewish Agency and others. For additional details: www.limmudfsu.org.