More than a 100 Russian and non-Russian speaking community members gathered at the Synagogue F.R.E.E. last Sunday for a Rosh Hashanah dinner. The event was organized by JUF's Russian Jewish Division (RJD) together with the Synagogue F.R.E.E. (Friends of Refugees of Eastern Europe).
Geared toward young professionals, families and students, the evening included guests of all ages and began with a candle-lighting ceremony, followed by the service and a traditional dinner. Vlad Eydelman, RJD's first chair of the new Advisory Board welcomed everyone on behalf of the Jewish Federation.
The Jewish Federation has resettled approximately 35,000 Soviet Jewish immigrants to the Chicago metropolitan area over the past 20 years. Despite the inroads made in engaging this community, there are still approximately 10,000 uninvolved Russian Speaking Jewish (RSJ) young professionals between the ages of 22 and 35 in the Chicago-land area. The RJD was created to focus on leadership development and outreach to RSJ young professionals. In addition, RJD will serve as a 'connector' for RSJ young professionals and young families to the larger Jewish community in the Chicago-land area while continuing to tailor to the specific needs of this population.
More and more Russian-speaking Jews or those raised by Russian speakers are exploring their roots and deepening their involvement in the Chicago Jewish community. To have a chance to celebrate a Jewish New Year together helps to strengthen Jewish identity and it is an irreplaceable gift.
For more information about JUF's Russian Jewish Division, contact Ramona Luka at (312) 673-2350 or email RJD@juf.org