Group gives $6 million for FSU projects

NEW YORK (JTA) — The Genesis Philanthropy group is giving the Jewish Agency for Israel $6 million for educational projects in the former Soviet Union.

Genesis, which is comprised of several oligarchs from the former Soviet Union who are committed to building the Russian-speaking Jewish Diaspora, will provide the funding over the next three to four years to help day schools, summer camps and other formal Jewish education projects, according to a spokesman for the Jewish Agency. The rest of the details have not been worked out.

The agreement was reached in Moscow this week, where the Agency’s new chairman, Natan Sharansky, was visiting schools at the start of the school year.

As the recession has hit, funding for programs in the FSU has been cut significantly by organizations and donors across the board. It is presumed that at least part of the Genesis money will go to help bail out the Jewish Agency’s floundering Heftsibah school system in the FSU.

The Jewish Agency is touting the gift as Sharansky’s first major victory since taking over the organization’s professional helm this summer.

“This is Sharansky’s baby," the Jewish Agency spokesman told JTA’s philanthropy blog, The Fundermentalist. "He has been working on this since he came on board because he has been very perturbed with cutbacks specifically in the FSU."

Sharansky, the spokesman added, "has done this very quickly and efficiently.”

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