BIMA/Genesis Alumni Continue Jewish Learning through Online Seminars

Winter 2011

On January 23rd, Brandeis' Office of High School Programs hosted its fifth online seminar for Brandeis-Genesis Institute-sponsored alumni of two of the university’s summer programs for talented teens: BIMA and Genesis. The online seminars, or “webinars,” have been hosted monthly since September and are a chance for Russian-speaking alumni from North America, the Former Soviet Union and Israel to stay in touch and reunite while continuing their Jewish learning.

The seminars, part of the University's Brandeis-Genesis Institute for Russian Jewry, are an extension of the on-campus program attended by high school students over the summer. The program, which received generous support from the Genesis Philanthropy Group, includes monthly web seminars for teenagers across the world as well as retreats in New England and Israel for high school students from Russian-speaking Jewish backgrounds.

This January, fifteen BIMA and Genesis alumni from the summer of 2010 joined Genesis faculty member Jason Happel. The session’s goal was to explore cultural, ethnic, and religious identity through the lens of musical experience. Jason told the story of renowned Canadian pianist Glenn Gould’s 1957 tour of the Soviet Union. Gould’s interpretation of the music of Johann Bach reignited Soviet interest in a composer that was considered “old-order.” Jason steered the discussion of re-experiencing old art to parallel how Russian-speaking alumni from the Former Soviet Union, Israel, and North America understand their cultural and religious identity.

There are four webinars left in the program. Leora Perkins, a Genesis Community Educator, will host the next session about Jewish leadership on February 27th. Future sessions will also include educators such as Dvora Goodman, Director of Genesis, and Tirtzah Bassel, a 2010 BIMA faculty member, on topics like Mining Jewish Resources on the Web (Purim Learning) and Art, Identity, and the Way We See Ourselves.