A grandiose youth gathering, organized by the FJC’s Yachad Forum, took place in Moscow over the weekend. About 800 Jewish students, youth program activists and community volunteers from 50 cities all over Russia came together for four days of learning, socializing and having fun, in what turned out to be one of the top social events of the summer.
Among the forum guests were prominent businessmen and philanthropists including FJC’s President Mr. Lev Leviev, Mr. Michael Mirilashvili and Mr. Eli Horn, religious leaders rabbi Berel Lazar and head of rabbinical court Israel Barenbaum. The speakers included well-known rabbis and scholars and from Russia, Israel and the US, including medical ethics professor Avraham Shteinberg and professor Eduard Shifrin, rabbis Boruch Gorin and Shalom Kuperman and many others.
The program opened Thursday with lectures from on a wide range of youth-relevant topics that left no participant indifferent: from career orientation and leadership training to relationship building, marriage, science and religion – the intensive schedule got everyone involved.
Lectures and discussions continued through Friday until the evening Shabbat meal, when all the participants, guests and lecturers gathered together “at one table” for a night of bonding and celebration. “We sang, talked a lot, listened to our mentors – Rabbi Lazar, Mr. Leviev and Mr. Horn, realizing what a magical experience that was – being together,” posted the forum participants on their social network accounts. “Events like these have the power to change one’s life,” they said.
The evening gathering continued until four in the morning, even though Saturday awaited with a program just as packed as the days before. Discussion about assimilation with rabbi Moshe Rochlin, “Astrology and Kabbalah” with rabbi Benzion Laskin, “Intimacy in Jewish tradition” with rabbi Asher Altshul – the list went on and on.
After a late-night havdalah ceremony the youngsters were treated to a spectacular fire-show, and those who still had the energy stayed up for a bonfire with barbecue and guitar singing.
Sunday morning and afternoon were filled with more learning and a trip to the Moscow aquarium. The grand finale awaited the participants at night, with a banquet that included a music concert and Yahad leadership awards ceremony.
“Today our programs for youngsters are actively functioning in over 80 cities in Russia, and we are very proud of our young people, who are taking an active part in the country’s Jewish life,” said the president of FJC Russia, rabbi Alexander Boroda. “We see that our young people are a lot more concerned with the philosophical aspects of life and spiritual development than they were 15 year ago, and we hope this seminar further expanded their zest for knowledge and gave them ‘food for thought’. We wish them success in growing, in taking risks and in discovering their roots and heritage,” Boroda said.