Some 800 Jews from across the former Soviet Union gathered for Limmud FSU, a three-day conference of Jewish learning and community building.
The conference, which started Thursday night outside Moscow, is modeled after the original Limmud, begun in Britain 25 years ago.
In an unusual departure for Russian Jewry, both of the country’s chief rabbis, Berel Lazar of Chabad and Avraham Shayevich, shared the stage at the Limmud opening program. Chaim Chesler, who was instrumental in bringing the program together, emphasized the pluralistic nature of the gathering and the importance of the local Jewish involvement, even as most of the funds came from international organizations.
A first for the former Soviet Union, Limmud has garnered support from an array of international Jewish organizations and foundations, including the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the Jewish Agency for Israel, the World Jewish Congress and birthright israel, whose alumnae are attending in large numbers.
The learning sessions are mostly run by local Russians, with participation from leaders and activists across the religious and political spectrum.