One of the most prominent participants in the Limmud FSU conference in Eilat was a large and overwhelming presence called Aaron Frenkel.
The Limmud FSU president, who was recently appointed to serve as chairman of the governing board of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, is convinced it is a phenomenal success, not just because of the number of participants in its various events and festivals, but because of the nature of its core aims.
Frenkel spoke on behalf of Limmud FSU leadership in the opening ceremony. He said: “I still remember the first Limmud FSU event in Moscow in 2006. It was an innovative and exciting start-up, and none of us – the founding donors, the volunteers, or the participants who came to experience the extraordinary project – was sure what the future [would] hold.
“One thing was clear to all of us – it was the beginning of a major breakthrough in everything related to the Jewish identity of Jews from the former Soviet Union, wherever they may be.
“Whether in the CIS [Commonwealth of Independent States] countries, North America, Australia, Israel, and anywhere else where the Jewish people were located following the fall of the Iron Curtain.”
He added that if they continued to succeed as they did, “we will bring with us the spirit, the pride and the Jewish brotherhood to more and more places around the globe, thereby making a significant and invaluable contribution to the unity of Israel and the Jewish people”.
Frenkel also emphasised the importance of preserving the spirit of a start-up and “not to enter into permanence, and built-in standards”.
He added: “We have to preserve this spirit and keep on innovating and learning all the time. Albert Einstein once said, while addressing the graduates of UCLA, that he wishes everyone not only to be successful, but to be a person with values. Successful people take everything they can from the world, as opposed to people with values, that give everything to the world.”
Regarding the particular success of the project in Israel, Frenkel said: “There are more than 2,000 Russian-speaking Israelis and their families here with us today. They all came here to feel the sense of “togetherness”, to experience, to learn, to broaden horizons and to join together to look into the future of the Jewish people, out of a shared sense of identity, unity of destiny, and in pursuit
of common values for every Jew wherever he or she may be”.