Read Jonathan Sarna's article, Returning to Moscow, Where Jews Are Building, Not Fleeing, published in The Jewish Daily Forward soon after the trip.
Hornstein Students Visit Moscow to Study Russian Jewish Life
On January 11, 2011, six second-year Hornstein students departed the annual Foster Seminar in Israel to study the revival of Jewish life in Moscow, Russia. The trip was sponsored by the Brandeis-Genesis Institute (BGI) for Russian Jewry and included three Russian-speaking Hornstein BGI Fellows (Judah Khaykin, Svetlana Muterperel, and Dmitry Levin) and three non-Russian speakers (Katie Quinn, Tzvi Raviv and Rebecca Shapiro). Accompanying the group were Professor Jonathan Sarna, Hornstein faculty member and Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis, as well as Hornstein Program Manager, Rise Singer.
The goal of the trip was to learn about the present-day Russian Jewish community within the context of its historical roots. The students recognize that, to be effective and inclusive Jewish professional leaders – in North America, Israel, and throughout the world – it is vital for them to gain a strong appreciation of the unique cultural and religious perspective that Russian Jews bring to the conversation.
The group visited over twenty different organizations and cultural and religious sites over a four-day period. Visits were made to educational, cultural, philanthropic, and welfare organizations, as well as synagogues, museums and a private apartment. In all cases, the students were greeted enthusiastically and returned with a strong sense that Moscow Jewish life was in a period of tremendous regeneration and revival.
In the words of one participant: "I am speechless. This trip was truly inspiring and laid a very important foundation for my future work with the Russian community."
The group is particularly grateful to the Genesis Philanthropy Group and Hornstein student, Svetlana Muterperel, a Moscow native, for their expertise in organizing this experience.