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:
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.