More than a 100 Russian speaking community members gathered at the Weinger JCC in Northbrook, Dec. 16 for a Chanukah celebration organized by JUF's Russian Jewish Division (RJD).
Geared toward young families, the event had guests of all ages and included a Menorah-lighting ceremony, led by a Russian-speaking Cantor, Vicky Glikin of Congregation Solel. Ilana Eydelman (age 9) and Arielle Trakhtenberg (age 3) lit the Menorah with the community joining in the blessing. A young mother, Galit Shkurenko shared: "It was wonderful to hear the cantor and learn songs together with other Russian families. Kids heard the Chanukah story in such an entertaining way. I hope there will be more events for Russian speaking families with toddlers. We want to preserve Russian Jewish heritage."
The guests enjoyed traditional Chanukah food and ate latkes the Russian way - with sour cream. Children made Chanukah-themed arts and crafts and cards for Russian Jewish veterans. Our RJD volunteers, Russian-speaking students and young professionals, read Chanukah stories from the PJ Library books and played with dreidels giving away wonderful gifts. Encouraging tikkun olam, this event also featured a food drive. Families brought over 80 items of non-perishable foods that were donated to The Ark.
For a number of Russian Jewish families, this was their first RJD event. Svetlana Kiperman, a mother of three shared her joy: "It was a fantastic event including kids of all ages, from the youngest to the oldest everyone had something to do - draw, sing, play with puppets and hand-paint, and help light the candles! It was heartwarming to meet my old friends from childhood, who are now parents themselves and play dreidl with our kids together. JUF's RJD did a fantastic job and we look forward to many more events for young families. We want to raise our children Jewish together."
The RJD Chanukah celebration demonstrated the necessity for our tailored approach to integrating the Russian Jewish community into Jewish life. Our events serve as a first step into the larger Jewish community in Chicago. We aim to educate our members about the JUF and its mission and spread the excitement embracing Jewish heritage.
The Russian Jewish Division of the JUF serves Russian-speaking Jewish young adults between the ages of 18 and 40. RJD's mission is to maintain and increase the outreach to the Russian-speaking Jewish Community in the Chicago-land area while reinforcing Jewish pluralism through the open-minded outlooks of the Jewish spectrum. While continuing to tailor to the specific needs of the Russian-speaking Jewish young adult community, Russian Jewish Division utilizes various available resources and serves as a resource and 'connection' to JUF and the Jewish community at large.
For more information about JUF's Russian Jewish Division, contactRJD@juf.org