Bay Area FSU émigrés take pilot leadership trip to Israel

A group of Former Soviet Union émigré young adults from the Bay Area recently visited a program in Israel aimed at engaging and assimilating immigrants much like themselves. One of the highlights of their pilot leadership trip was a meeting with community leaders and educators for Bina B’Shchuna (Bina in the Neighborhood), a SF Federation supported project. One Bina program of particular interest to the group was Gvanim Olim, designed to engage immigrants from the Former Soviet Union in Israel with Jewish heritage and to help them integrate into Israeli society. Participant Leon Kofman was impressed that the organizers of the program "really help new immigrants get acclimated in their new country and provide a nice environment where people with limited background in Hebrew language, culture and religion can gain better understanding without feeing ashamed by their lack of knowledge." Alex Rayter voiced what many of the participants felt about the value of the program to Israeli pluralism. “It is important," he said, "that this organization allows Jews who are secular to learn about and come in touch with age old Jewish traditions and thought. It allows them to extract what they see as useful and beneficial to them and allows them to grow and develop as Jews, learn about their culture and people, without forcing them into a permanent lifestyle that is not a fit for them.” The trip, organized by the Federation's Israel Center in collaboration with JAFI and UJA Federation of NY, provided the group of 20 FSU émigrés from San Francisco and New York with an unforgettable nine days in Israel. If you are interested in hearing more about the trip or to learn about additional programs for Russian Jewish young adults, please contact Sasha Belinski, JAFI emissary for the FSU émigré community at the Israel Center, at 415.512.6285 or


March 04, 2009


The Federation