In 2016, Limmud FSU held its first West Coast conference in Los Angeles, attended by some 700 Russian-speaking Jews, and in 2017, some 800 Russian-speaking Jews gathered in San Francisco. Last Sunday, the organization, that mounts peer-led pluralist Jewish learning opportunities for Russian-speaking Jews, continued on a slow, careful, but committed return to post pandemic face-to-face activities with a gathering of some 150 in Palo Alto, in cooperation with The Oshman Family Jewish Community Center.
Participants could choose between a discussion of what is next for Israel after the recent fighting in Gaza and the creation of a new government, that saw Limmud FSU founder, Chaim Chesler, in discussion with Shlomi Kofman, the Israel consul-general to the Pacific Northwest and San Francisco, a theater Midrash workshop or a workshop on flower arranging. Other sessions during the 7.5 hour gathering covered such varied topics as how to address bilingualism within immigrant families, responses to contemporary antisemitism, the status of women in Judaism, a literary musical program of songs and poems written during the Holocaust, hugely popular Russian trivia game "What? Where? When?" by Eugene Fooksman and many more. The final event was a concert, "Marching through Life with a Song," by acclaimed actors from "Unorthodox," Gera Sandler and Ronit Asheri.
Limmud FSU held its first post-pandemic event in Moscow last month, while last weekend some 150 Russian-speaking Jews from the New York area had their first after lockdown opportunity to gather and learn together.
Shlomi Kofman, Israel's San Francisco-based consul general for the Pacific Northwest, said during his session that he's worried about a "very harsh" wave of anti-Israel sentiment popping up in different places along the West Coast. "From Los Angeles up to Seattle, we're seeing expressions of antisemitism. When you talk to people and try to understand where it's coming from, it's being presented on the basis of anti-Israel policies supposedly because of what happened in Gaza," he said, noting a June 9 protest that prevented the unloading of a Zim containership at the Port of Oakland.