Close to 100 Russian-speaking young professionals joined Russian Jewish Networking Night last Thursday at eSkape bowling in Buffalo Grove. The event was organized by the Russian Jewish Leadership Forum (RJLF) of the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago (JUF/JF).
Surprisingly for the organizers, the number of attended guests was double the expected turnout. The room was full and many new connections and friendships were established. Albert Fekson, Program Manager, came to the event to expand his social circle."I do not know a lot of people in the Jewish community and I realized that most of the people I know are either coworkers or people I studied with," he said. "I think that these events are very important."
Networking is important not only for our personal lives, but for our work and careers as well. It is also critical for building a community. "Events such as this one ensure that our community continues to be a cohesive unit, as well as build personal and business contacts," said Leonard Mogul, Kontinent Media Group representative. "I believe in supporting community-centered events".
More than 35,000 Russian-speaking Jews have been resettled in Chicago in the past 20 years. Our young professionals are children of Soviet immigrants, searching for some roots - and maybe romance - with others who have had a similar journey. Their parents all lived under Communist rule, with the threat of prison, loss of livelihood, even banishment to Siberia for practicing their faith. Unlike their American counterparts, these young adults didn't grow up going to synagogue, attending bar and bat mitzvahs or celebrating holidays.
Today, Russian-speaking Jewish young adults in their late 20s through mid-30s are getting more and more involved in the community. They celebrate their Judaism through their Russian heritage and defining themselves while strengthening their identity. As Margaret Lozovatsky, Senior Clinical Consultant, noted: "I think events like this are important because they are a great way for Russian-Jewish young adults to meet each other to keep our community connected."
For more information about the Russian Jewish Leadership Forum, contact Evgenia Kovelman at (312) 673 - 2351, or email EvgeniaKovelman@juf.org.