HUC-JIR Students to Lead Passover Seders in Former Soviet Union - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
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HUC-JIR Students to Lead Passover Seders in Former Soviet Union

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Friday, April 3, 2009

For the sixth consecutive year, the HUC-JIR Pesach Project will bring 16 HUC-JIR students to the Former Soviet Union, where they will visit and conduct seders in 28 cities. The Pesach Project is coordinated by HUC-JIR students Jordan Helfman and Amy Goodman and supervised by Rabbi David Wilfond. The rabbinical and cantorial students, who are all spending their first year of study at HUC-JIR in Jerusalem, will be visiting the following communities in Russia: Chelyabinsk-Tyumen, Lipetsk-Moscow, JEEPS (Jewish English Speaking Expats), and St. Petersburg-Tver; in Belarus: Mogilev-Bobruisk-Vitebsk, Gomel, Baranovichi, and the Minsk cantorial festival; and in Ukraine: Poltava, Lvov, Odessa, Cherkass, Simferopil, Yevpatoria, and either Kerch or Feodosia. Last year, nearly 6,300 people attended the different seders held in Reform communities in the FSU.


The goals of the FSU Pesach Project, in partnership with the World Union for Progressive Judaism, are to:

  • Deepen the connection between HUC-JIR students and the world of Progressive Judaism
  • Strengthen Reform Congregations in the FSU
  • Connect with students' Jewish roots in the FSU
  • Enjoy the Passover seder with other Reform Jews around the world.

As part of their preparation for this journey, the students are responsible for fund raising to cover the costs per student (including travel expenses, educational materials, and program supplies for all community members, ranging from toddlers to senior citizens, and a gift to show support for each community visited by the students); arranging the logistics (including transportation and visas throughout the FSU); developing the skills to lead the seders and engage the FSU communities in Jewish educational programs; and learning about the history and culture of the FSU.


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.

Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's leading institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates leaders to serve North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, museums, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding.