The grand opening of the Foundation for social and cultural projects development “Euro-Asian Jewish Congress” in Russia took placing Moscow on October 28th.
The opening began with a moment of silence for the victims killed during the heinous act of terror at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh (USA). The EAJC leadership and guests expressed condolences to the families and friends of the victims and outrage against this act of terror and antisemitism.
Combating antisemitism and xenophobia is one of the most important objectives of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress. In the beginning of the opening ceremony EAJC President Mr. Mirilashvili expressed his gratitude to the Russian leaders for the uncompromising condemnation of antisemitism that allows the Jewish communities and organizations to carry out activities freely. “We remember that it was not always like this. But today, Russia can be an example for combating antisemitism. We hope that no geopolitical issues will change this approach,” – said the head of EAJC.
According to the EAJC President, over the past two decades there has been a significant change in the international status of Russian-speaking Jews. “We were able to move from the periphery to one of the central places in the Jewish world,” – noted Mikhail Mirilashvili.
The meeting was welcomed by the Executive Vice-President of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) Robert Singer, who also spoke on behalf of the WJC President Ronald S. Lauder while Mr. Lauder was in Pittsburgh. Among the speakers were Ambassador of Israel to the Russian Federation Harry Koren, Chairman of the EAJC and WJC Vice-President Aaron Frenkel.
One of the priorities of the Foundation ‘EAJC’ in Russia is to educate the younger generations. The Chief Rabbi of Russia, Berl Lazar, also spoke about this matter: “Raising children has always been the main goal of our people. On the former Soviet Union territory there are many communities that are unable to support educational programs themselves. And I am glad that the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress takes on this task too.”
CEO of the EAJC Dr. Haim Ben-Yakov spoke about the launch of Sunday Schools network in the Euro-Asian region, where Jewish youth will be able to study traditions, culture and history. In addition, within the framework of Jewish Diplomacy Corps, which also began its work in Euro-Asian region, EAJC plans to develop dialogue with civil societies, invite journalists to Israel in order to show and tell the truth about the Jewish culture, overcome prejudices.
Russia plays a special role in the EAJC activities. It houses the largest Jewish community in the Euro-Asian region. According to EAJC First Vice-President Teimuraz Khikhinashvili, the EAJC regularly supports such major projects in Russia as Hillel and Limmud. Last year the EAJC concluded a number of important cooperation agreements. Among those are agreements with the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia (FCJR), the Israel-Russia Business Council and the Republic of Tatarstan within the framework of the Jewish Music Festival in Kazan.
Bella Waldberg, CEO of the newly-established Foundation ‘EAJC’ in Russia, spoke about other projects and objectives of the Foundation. Among those are:
- Support of ‘The Memory of the People’ festival organized by the EAJC together with the Union of Jewish Students and dedicated to preserving the memory of the Second World War and the Holocaust tragedy
- Support of the Pechersky Foundation to promote and expand the international presentation of the Oscar nominated movie “Sobibor”
- Establishment of the Center for Jewish Law that opens this year at the Moscow State University
- Support of the Annual International Conference on Jewish Studies – a large-scale event in the world of academic Judaica
- Publication of documents on Soviet-Israeli relations in the 1954-1967 period – a completely new project, supported on intergovernmental level in Russia and Israel
- Support of the organizations of Former Prisoners of Fascism
- Support of the publication of “The Book People in the Book World” magazine (detailed descriptions of Russian-language books on Judaism, Jewish philosophy, history and tradition)
- Support of the Russian Union of Jewish Students
- Participation in the Kesher project, aimed to improve the status of women and development of their leadership potential.
Next year, the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress Foundation plans to strengthen its activities in Russia and welcomes new partners.