Presentation russian speaking jewish community sasha (2)

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  • 1. Working with FSU Émigré Jewish Community Sasha Belinski Israeli Shlicha for FSU Émigré Jewish Community in San Francisco
  • 2. Background: FSU Émigrés in North America
    • The Russian-speaking Jewish population in North America is estimated to be between 400,000 and 800,000 people.
    • The largest concentrations of the Russian Jewish community:
      • New York – between 150,000 – 250,000 people
      • Los Angeles – between 80,000 – 100,000
      • San Francisco and the Bay Area – between 50,000 – 70,000
  • 3. Russian-Jewish Community: Main Characteristics
    • Is secular (and often highly uncomfortable with religion)
    • Has had almost zero exposure to Jewish religion, history, or traditions
    • Has strong, instinctive Jewish identity
    • Identifies strongly and passionately with Israel (many have immediate family there)
  • 4. Russian-Jewish Community: Main Characteristics (continued)
    • Tends to the right of the political spectrum, especially on Israel-related issues
    • Highly educated and professional
    • Remains culturally distinct from the American community
    • Places enormous emphasis on children – including young adults – and has deep concerns about their children’s Jewish identity.
  • 5. Russian-Jewish Community: Main Concerns
    • FSU émigrés are in even greater danger of assimilation than the rest of the North American Jewish community
    • If not properly engaged, this population will assimilate into North American life, no longer self-identifying "Jewishly."
  • 6.
    • The organized Jewish community did not focus on the longer-term integration efforts.
    • The vast majority of émigrés were simply not equipped to integrate into the Jewish community on their own.
    • Many émigrés report feeling alienated from Jewish life and community, while, at the same time, expressing eagerness, sometimes bordering on desperation, to become a part of both
    Russian-Jewish Community: Community Connection
  • 7.
    • Most of the Russian Jewish immigrants are now materially established their American environment and are eager to explore the next level of fulfillment.
    • Russian Jews offer a captive and eager audience – one that already has a strong instinctive Jewish identity but that needs a bridge to the organized community.
    • Most of the local Jewish organizations either are not interested to outreach particularly for the Russian Jews or do not meet the cultural and educational needs of the Russian Jews
    Russian Jewish Community
  • 8. Why JAFI?
    • Strong FSU expertise, with the ability to asses, motivate and excite North American Russian speaking Jews.
    • A pluralistic and humanistic educational perspective of strengthening the Jewish identity through Israel, arts and culture in the framework of experience-centered and interactive educational environment
    • A wide “pool” of Russian- speaking educators for youth/adult education and for cultural connection
  • 9. Our Goals
    • Engage Russian speaking Jewish youth and students through existing local partnerships
    • Development of new models to reach out to currently unaffiliated Russian speaking population
    • Build the capacity of local Russian speaking educators, youth and student leaders
  • 10. Jewish Agency’s Educational Approach
    • The main idea is to explore the basics of Jewish identity and tradition in non-invasive, non-religious way using:
    • Arts and culture - literature, music and arts have a special place in ability to convey a personal message to Russian speaking Jew. Popular cultural platforms, used in FSU, can be transformed and re-filled with contemporary Jewish/Israeli content.
    • Israel engagement as an entrance point and attraction/outreach
  • 11. Jewish Agency’s Educational Approach
    • Working with local grass root organizations – many unaffiliated young adults form groups with a strong social common denominator, that seek a connection to quality Jewish/Israeli content and a organized social gathering.
    • Israeli shaliach/madrih as an intercultural bridge – Israeli informal educator with FSU Expertise, understanding the Russian Jewish mentality along American reality
  • 12. Target segments
    • Young adults (age 23 – 35)
    • Families with young children
    • College students (age 18-22)
    • School students (post bar/bat mitzvah age 13 -17)
  • 13. Modules of Engagement- Across North America Your community ? Bi-annual “Mitbachon” educational retreat Target Group: Partners: Young Professionals UJA Federation of NY Federation of San Francisco and Bay area San Francisco Israel Center SJP of Boston Genesis Philanthropy Group Cojeco – Council of Jewish Émigrés BJE of Los Angeles Local grassroots organizations for RuJew young professionals
  • 14. Modules of Engagement- Across North America Your community ? Leadership educational trip to Israel and Ukraine Target Group: Partners: Young Professionals UJA Federation of NY Federation of San Francisco and Bay area Cojeco – Council of Jewish Émigrés
  • 15. Modules of Engagement- Across North America Your community ? Jewish Summer Camp “Havurah” Target Group: Partners: Teenagers Genesis Philanthropy Group The Foundation of Jewish Camps JAFI Young Judea UJA Federation of NY Federation of San Francisco and the Bay area Federation of Toronto
  • 16. Models of Engagement - San Francisco Young Adults
    • Bina Leadership Fellowship
    COJECO Students
    • The Israel School for Leadership Development
    • MeHaLev (Volunteering in Israel)
    • Everything is Illuminated
    UJA Fed of NY, Local communal organizations UJA Fed of NY, Hillels, Outreach Teens TELEM B’Yachad Summer Camp UJA Fed of NY, JCCs, JCCA JCC’s, JCH of Bensonhurst, Shorefront Y, JCCA and the Jewish Agency General Russian Jewish Community “ Culture Shook” Website
  • 17. Models of Engagement - San Francisco Target Group Programming Partners Adults JCFI – Leadership institute Israeli speakers events Israeli art & culture events Jewish holidays (Shabbats, Community Passover) SFJCF, JCC’s, Congregations, Private homes Young adults Mishmash Leadership program Educational events planned by the young adult board SFJCF Young families My Jewish Discovery Beth Am Congregation