Russian speaking BIMA and Genesis alumni from Israel, Moscow, St. Petersburg and Kiev came together for a 3 day retreat in the North of Israel at Kibbutz Channaton


February 2011


Russian speaking BIMA and Genesis alumni from Israel, Moscow, St. Petersburg and Kiev came together for a 3 day retreat in the North of Israel at Kibbutz Channaton.   This was the first time BIMA and Genesis have conducted follow-up programming for alumni in Israel. The program was made possible through a generous grant from the Genesis Philanthropy Group (GPG) through the Brandeis-Genesis Institute for Russian Jewry (BGI) at Brandeis University.

The retreat focused on defining leadership. Activities included text study, a trip to a nearby immigration detention camp from World War II, meetings with members of this newly reestablished kibbutz, celebrating Shabbat together and each student working on an individual project to better understand leadership in their life and community.

The retreat faculty included Bradley Solmsen, director of high school programs at Brandeis, Golan Ben-Chorin, a member of the Genesis at Brandeis faculty, and Shula Resnick, an Israeli based Russian-speaking Jewish educator. The two central goals of the retreat were to provide the BIMA and Genesis alumni with an opportunity to reconnect and continue to deepen their Jewish connections and commitments. The tone of the retreat was set from the opening moments when, despite a full day of international travel, participants engaged in an initial discussion to define the concept of leadership. The discussion went on late into the night with passionate debate and creative energy.

The retreat concluded with each participant delivering a presentation of what they learned about leadership and how they see leadership fitting into their lives. Each participant had a slightly different approach to leadership but also acknowledged significant overlap and common ground between each of their definitions.

One participant summed up the experience with these remarks, "I was happy to meet all my favorite Brandeis-friends. I liked the discussion of interesting and engaging topics. I also liked the engaging and interesting faculty." Another added, "The seminar was too short. In my opinion, such an interesting topic, could be developed over a longer time."

Senior BIMA and Genesis leadership will be working closely with the BGI and GPG to continue to develop follow-up programming for alumni and look forward to building on the success of this pilot initiative.

For more information about this initiative contact Leo Guyshan in the Office of High School Programs: highschool@brandeis.edu.

For press inquiries contact Elissa Strauss: elissa.strauss@gmail.com