“He changed my life. A few days have gone by since Shabbat, but I’m still here sitting around the table with him.”
These were the words of Mr. Misha Katz, a Jewish businessman from the famous city of Birobidzhan, the ‘Jewish Autonomy’ in Eastern Russia.
“He showed us what is the truth, what are the real priorities in life, the real meaning of money and what it is intended for,” Misha concludes.
Misha was referring to Mr. Lev Leviev, the FJC’s president and founder, who recently visited his remote community, accompanied by an honorable delegation and had lunch with local Jewish businessmen – an event that quickly developed into a “Jewish gathering” that awoke Misha’s soul.
Mr. Leviev’s visit had a strong spiritual impact on the community’s Jews, and strengthened their connection to Judaism. Misha has since decided to visit Synagogue daily and to donate a percentage of his wealth to charity; Ana – after carefully listening to Mr. Leviev warm words about our connection to Jewish heritage and tradition – decided to enroll in the women’s Jewish college in Moscow, a decision she has been struggling with for many years.
The delegation’s expedition opened in the city of Khabarovsk, located 8 hours east of Moscow. Accompanied by the FJC’s director, Rabbi David Mondshine, Mr. Leviev’s delegation arrived in town in time for “Shabbat Selichot” in order to participate in a special seminar for the Jewish community’s youth and teenagers from across the region.
Rabbis and activists from the eastern cities of Birobidzhan, Khabarovsk and Vladivostok attended together with 50 youngsters. They danced, sang, learned, listened, prayed and ate the Shabbat meals together – all in preparation for the upcoming new year – culminating in the traditional “Selichot” prayers that lasted late into the night.
Those “Selichot” were different from those in any other place in the world; they resembled the true awakening of Judaism in our generation and reflected the revival of Russian Jewry taking place in front of our very own eyes.