Genesis bringing high school students from former Soviet Union to Brandeis this summer

Program director travels to Moscow to interview candidates

WALTHAM, Mass.- For the first time in its history, Genesis at Brandeis University will welcome a group of teenagers from Moscow to the program this summer. Thanks to funding from the Genesis Philanthropy Group, ten high-school students- six from Moscow and four from Russian-speaking homes in the United States- will have the opportunity to experience the program with full scholarships.

Genesis director Rabbi Bradley Solmsen recently traveled to Moscow to meet with candidates for the available spots. “They were impressive across the board,” Solmsen says. “In the end, we had a difficult time getting down to the right number of kids.”

The Russian teens will join an already diverse group of participants, including students from Spain, Israel, Canada and all over the United States. “I think the students from Moscow are going to teach the kids from North America a whole different perspective on what it means to be Jews,” Solmsen says. “What does Jewish commitment mean? What does it mean to face anti-Semitism, maybe at a different level or in a different way, than students here have experienced? And I think the North American students are going to teach the Moscow kids a tremendous amount about Judaism. This will be eye-opening experiences on both sides.”

Established in 1997 with a generous grant from Steven Spielberg's Righteous Persons Foundation, Genesis is a summer program combining Jewish studies, academics, the arts, humanities and community building. While the program runs at Brandeis through the month of July, the ten Russian students will arrive early on June 26th to meet one another and to get acclimated to the U.S.

“This is really going to impact the Genesis program by bringing in a new population,” Solmsen says. “It’s also going to impact the Jewish community in Moscow as well. Many of these kids said they’re looking forward to spending time at Brandeis and learning more about applying to the university. It’s exciting on a number of levels.”

Genesis at Brandeis University will take place from June 30-July 28. For more information visit

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