World Jewish Leaders Gather at Limmud FSU in United Kingdom

Members of Limmud FSU enjoying the lively atmosphere at the UK gathering
(From left) Limmud FSU International Steering Committee Chairman Matthew Bronfman; Presidents’ Conference Executive Vice Chairman Malcolm Hoenlein; and Chief Rabbi of Russia Berel Lazar at the Limmud FSU conference in the United Kingdom. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Limmud FSU
Rabbis, community leaders and Limmud FSU members enjoy singing and dancing at UK conference
Chief Rabbi of Russia Berel Lazar (center) and Presidents’ Conference Executive Vice Chairman Malcolm Hoenlein (right) making havdalah after a spectacular Shabbat at the Limmud FSU conference in the U.K.

A century after the U.K. declared its support for the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Israel, Jewish leaders from around the world and some 700 Russian-speaking Jews from 18 European countries gathered in Windsor last weekend for the first-ever Limmud FSU (former Soviet Union) Europe regional conference in the U.K.

The Limmud FSU Europe conference featured a special centennial celebration of the Balfour Declaration. The declaration, dated Nov. 2, 1917, was sent from U.K. Foreign Secretary Lord Arthur James Balfour to Baron Lionel Walter Rothschild, and expressed the U.K.’s support for the establishment of a homeland for the Jewish people in Israel. 

Limmud FSU Europe marked the first time in its decade-long history that Limmud FSU was not geared toward Russian-speaking Jews of a specific city or country. More than 250,000 Russian-speaking Jews currently reside in Europe, making it one of the world’s largest Russian-speaking Jewish communities.

The U.K. conference featured more than 100 lectures, workshops, presentations and discussions by leading figures including British members of Parliament; Israeli members of Knesset; former Ambassador of Israel to the U.N. Ron Prosor; Chief Rabbi of Russia Berel Lazar; Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations Executive Vice Chairman Malcolm Hoenlein; Genesis Philanthropy Group President and CEO Ilia Salita; American businessman and philanthropist Matthew Bronfman, who is chairman of Limmud FSU’s international steering committee; and Limmud FSU President Aaron Frenkel.

“This unprecedented continental gathering brought together major Jewish leaders and the Russian-speaking Jewish communities of Europe to celebrate the Balfour Declaration, which paved the way for the formation of the modern State of Israel,” said Limmud FSU Founder Chaim Chesler and Co-Founder Sandy Cahn. “Our first extra-territorial Limmud FSU was also our first nomadic conference, convening Russian-speaking Jews from across Europe in the continent’s informal capital.”

Limmud FSU Europe was held in partnership with the Genesis Philanthropy Group (GPG), a private foundation with the mission of developing and enhancing a sense of Jewish identity among Russian-speaking Jews around the world. For more information about GPG, please visit: www.gpg.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. Since its inaugural conference in Moscow in 2006, Limmud FSU has created an independent educational and communal network of annual conferences and festivals, attracting more than 45,000 participants in Russia (Moscow, St. Petersburg, Russian Far East and the Volga-Ural region), Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Israel, North America (Greater New York, the West Coast, and Canada), and Australia. Limmud FSU engages young Russian-Jewish adults, empowering them to take ownership of their identity and to connect with their communities through pluralistic, egalitarian volunteer-driven conferences of Jewish learning and culture. In this way, Limmud FSU strives to foster the next generation of young Russian-speaking Jewish leadership and so revitalize Jewish communities in the countries of the former Soviet Union, and in countries with Russian-Jewish communities, wherever they may be. Key partners include the Claims Conference, JDC, GPG, philanthropist Matthew Bronfman, Aaron Frenkel, Ronald Lauder, Diane Wohl, the Jewish National Fund (KKL), UJA-Federation of New York, Israel Bonds, the Jewish Agency, and others. For additional details: www.limmudfsu.org.

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