Dozens of Jewish students and youngsters from the Autonomous Jewish Region of Birobidzhan in the Far East embarked on an experiential journey to the Jewish community in the Russian capital of Moscow. They enjoyed genuine exposure to Jewish life in a large and thriving community in a place where only 30 years ago Judaism was forbidden.
The special initiative, created by FJC’s YAHAD organization headed by Rabbi Mendy Wilansky, led dozens of unaffiliated Jewish youngsters to learn and experience the flourishing life of a large, vibrant, community and its range of educational, cultural, humanitarian, and religious institutions.
The visit included tours, lectures, a lively Shabbaton, an educational tour to the famous Moscow Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center, meetings with prominent figures such as the Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Berel Lazar, and the director of the Jewish Russian Publishing House, Rabbi Baruch Gurin, and much more.
“It was an unforgettable experience, that our young generation will never forget,” says Rabbi Ephraim Koflik, the Chief Rabbi of Birobidzhan, who participated in the trip and Shabbaton. “They could hardly believe their eyes, after being accustomed to a small remote community, suddenly understanding the power of a large community and how many educational and communal opportunities exist and are available to them.”
“They returned back home inspired,” adds Rabbi Mendy Wilansky, “to become leaders and create such a beautiful environment and community in their hometown. This initiative has long-lasting results, that we will be witnessing in the years to come.”