April 17-24 2008/12-20 Nissan 5768
For the fifth consecutive year, 36 Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion students visited and conducted Seders in 28 cities throughout the Former Soviet Union.
The project was led by HUC-JIR students Rachel Joseph Marah and Jill Doornek (supervised by Rabbi David Wilfond) whose professionalism and great organization skills were most apparent throughout project preparations.
The students' preparations, openness, flexibility, and deep understanding of the project and their place in it, contributed to the success of the program.
FSU staff commented on the HUC-JIR students. Alla Mittelman, Programs Director in St. Petersburg, said, "I was most impressed by the students. They were hardworking, open, friendly, talented and ready to help with whatever was required. If I could give a percentage for performance, I would give them 100%+!"
Alexander Haydar, Executive Director for Ukrainian Reform movement said, "Students actively participated in leading Seders in all of our congregations and in addition worked in kindergartens, schools, as well as with youth, people with special needs, in homes for the elderly, and in other Jewish organizations. The Pesach Project contributed to the revival Reform Jewish life in Ukrainian congregations, and the student's presence demonstrated the size and strength of the Reform movement worldwide. I would like to especially emphasize the goodwill that was apparent among all the students, and their desire to as much as possible to assist congregations. Their openness, friendly manner, leadership and desire to communicate with people were most appreciated. On behalf of the Reform Movement members and staff in Ukraine I would like to express our heartfelt appreciation to the students and WUPJ for making this project such a success."
Project participants have the opportunity to witness Reform Jewish life outside of the United States and Israel, and see ways in which they can contribute to the growth and development Jewish life in other countries in the Diaspora. FSU Reform congregations gain new friends, and potential twinning counterparts.
Passover festivities were celebrated in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Lithuania. Nearly 6,300 people attended the different seders held in Reform communities in the FSU.