MOSCOW (JTA) — Students from the Stanford University Hillel toured the pillars of Jewish life in Moscow with local Jewish students.
The eight students selected were paired with Russian roommates and spent last week in informational meetings with Jewish community leaders and government officials. Some had Russian educational background or family roots.
The Washington-based NCSJ: Advocates on behalf of Jews in Russia, Ukraine, the Baltic States & Eurasia, runs the exchange program, which this year received support from the Koret Foundation, the Taube Foundation for Jewish Life and Culture, and the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco.
The weeklong retreat included a meeting with an official from Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as representatives from the Israeli and American embassies, said Lesley Weiss, NCSJ’s director for community services and cultural affairs.
Students also met with the newly appointed president of the Russian Jewish Congress, Yuri Kanner, and Berel Lazar, Russia’s chief Chabad rabbi.
NCSJ runs the yearly program as an opportunity for students to strengthen their Jewish identity and view Jewish life today in Russia.
Students at their sessions discussed anti-Semitism, the organized Jewish community and media freedom in Russia.