Yigal Kotler in the News
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Yigal Kotler, a native of Odessa (Ukraine), studied at the Odessa State University (MA in History and Social Sciences). Upon graduation, he commenced his career as a teaching and research assistant at the University. Since 1990, he became actively involved in the reawakening of Jewish life in the Former Soviet Union (FSU), being a founder of the first Jewish school and other community institutions in Odessa. At the same time, Yigal began researching the history of Russian Jewry and led the first Jewish tours in his native city. His book “Essays on the History of Odessa Jews” was published in Jerusalem in 1996.
In 1994, Yigal was invited to Israel, to study Jewish education at the Jerusalem Fellows program of Mandel Center of Jewish Leadership and, upon graduation from the program, started to work for the Russian Department of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (Joint). On behalf of the Joint, Yigal worked in different Former Soviet Union countries, first as a field office director and then as a coordinator of Jewish educational and youth programs in the FSU. Among other projects, he was actively developing leadership programs, especially in the frame of the Hillel movement in the FSU communities.
During all these years, Yigal presented at various conferences in Jewish education, Jewish history and academic Judaica in the Former Soviet Union, Israel, Europe and the US. Throughout his carrier, he intensively taught and lectured on Jewish subjects as well as developed numerous curricula for Jewish educational institutions.
In 2006 Yigal relocated to New York and, after working as an Associate Executive Director of the Shorefront Y at Brighton Beach where he developed programs for the local community, Yigal was accepted to a full time doctoral program at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, Davidson School of Jewish Education. He was selected to receive a special William Davidson Fellowship. Yigal’s dissertation is concentrated on Jewish Russian- speaking community of North America, its identity, leadership and education. At the JTS Yigal coordinates the Russian project at the Institute of Jewish Learning.
Yigal works, also, as a Program Director of the Brownstone Experience Foundation, Russian Division developing a wide spectrum of innovative experiential educational programs for Russian-speaking Jewish participants in the US and overseas. He continues to teach and his lectures and interactive workshops dedicated to a Russian Jewish heritage and modern world Russian Jewish communities are very popular among both Russian- and English-speaking audience.
As a lay-leader Yigal has a position of Chairman of the Limmud FSU USA, the annual educational conference for Russian-speaking Jewish Americans and an observer of the Executive Board of the UJA Federation of New York, Russian Division.