Eight hundred Jewish students from across Russia and the FSU, toured Europe last week during the annual YAHAD EuroStars trip, weaving together the past of European Jewish life and its future, pages of history books turning at their footsteps.
The group read the Torah in the Colosseum; met the Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte in Rome’s Great Synagogue; spoke to the survivor of recent terror attack in Poway, California – Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein; performed two circumcisions signifying the renewal of Jewish people’s connection with G-d at the site of Nazi concentration camp in Auschwitz and learned about Israel’s recent aircraft launch to the moon from one of its engineers. They also had plenty of fun along the way, showing their vibrant spirit to the world.
“This was a pivotal experience for all the parties involved,” reminisces Rabbi Mendy Wilansky, YAHAD director. “As much as it as exciting for our students to visit these important historical sites and learn from speakers, who had a lot to say on the topic of Jewish identity, it was just as impressive for our European hosts to meet these energetic and proud students from the FSU and see that Jewish spirit is fully alive there.”
EuroStars trip comes as the conclusion of a year-long Jewish heritage study program, which all of the participants have completed. EuroStars was launched seven years ago in an effort to provide Jewish college students in the FSU with an active peer community that would keep them connected to their roots and identity. Now it is part of a variety of learning and social programs offered by YAHAD, FJC’s young adults’ Jewish programming platform.