One hundred years after the U.K. declared its support for the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Israel, Jewish leaders from across the world and more than 650 Russian-speaking Jews from more than 20 European countries will gather in Windsor for the first-ever Limmud FSU (former Soviet Union) Europe regional conference in the U.K., Feb. 3-5.
Limmud FSU Europe is the first extra-territorial Limmud and this U.K. conference will feature more than 100 lectures, workshops, presentations and discussions by leading figures including British members of Parliament; Israeli members of Knesset; Ambassador of Israel to the U.K. Mark Regev; former Ambassador of Israel to the U.N. Ron Prosor; American historian Deborah Lipstadt, best known for her book “Denying the Holocaust”; Chief Rabbi of Russia Berel Lazar; World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder; 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; Limmud FSU President Aaron Frenkel; Ukraine-born American businessman, investor and philanthropist Len Blavatnik; Russian actor and playwright Veniamin Smekhov; French artist and co-founder of the Soviet Pop (Sots) Art movement Erik Bulatov; Russian TV presenter and journalist, Vladimir Pozner; Grigory Tshatrishvili, the French writer who uses the famous pseudonym Boris Akunin; and others.
The Balfour Declaration, dated Nov. 2, 1917, was sent from U.K. Foreign Secretary 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. The text of the letter was incorporated into the Sevres peace treaty with the Ottoman Empire and the Mandate for Palestine. The Limmud FSU Europe conference will include a centennial celebration of the declaration.
“This unprecedented continental gathering will bring 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 will also be our first nomadic conference, convening Russian-speaking Jews from across the Europe in the continent’s informal capital.”
This continental gathering marks the first time in its decade-long history that Limmud FSU is 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.
Limmud FSU Europe is being 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.
The conference is possible thanks to Limmud FSU Europe Chairman Semyon Dovzhik, and Limmud FSU Europe project manager Tatiana Pashaeva. Limmud FSU Europe volunteer teams consists of 30 U.K.-based members and 20 “ambassadors” in European countries including Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Sweden, and Switzerland, among others.
“Limmud FSU Europe is a unique platform, uniting Russian-speaking Jews from different communities and backgrounds,” said Dovzhik. “Russian-European Jews see Limmud FSU as an outstanding opportunity to reconnect with their Jewish roots and preserve their cultural heritage. This is why the idea of Limmud speaks to people who previously declined any involvement with Jewish communities. Despite the current political climate in Europe, Limmud FSU continues to bring people together.”