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Russian-speaking young families attend first ever retreat

Fifteen Russian-speaking families gathered for a retreat at the JCC Perlstein Resort in Wisconsin.

For the first time ever, Russian Jewish Division (RJD) organized a family retreat for Russian speaking young Jewish families in Chicago. The retreat took place on the weekend of June 28-30 at the JCC Perlstein Resort in Wisconsin.

Fifteen young families gathered to enjoy the beautiful natural surroundings and connect with their heritage. Participants shared in the celebration of Shabbat in a very relaxing environment. Throughout the weekend, children were engaged in various activities such as arts and crafts, Russian Reading Corner, Maccabiada, sing along and others while their parents enjoyed educational sessions and discussions led by Russian-speaking cantor Vicky Glikin of Congregation Solel of Highland Park.

RJD family retreat at JCC Perlstein Resort

What makes a Russian-speaking Jewish family in Chicago unique from any other young Jewish family? Although a desire to preserve Russian culture and raise their children with a Jewish identity is something that unites these families, the level of integration into a larger community varies.

Some of the families that attended the retreat were very new to the organized community and had an opportunity to learn a great deal about JUF and the Chicago Jewish community in general. Other families have been involved in the Jewish community and have been supporters of JUF for many years. We had family members who work as accountants, consultants, financial advisors, doctors, executives of large companies and also those who work as Jewish professionals for Jewish organizations in Chicago.

At one of the sessions for parents, Cantor Glikin asked a question about naming children. Families shared their stories and while the majority of parents received their Hebrew names later in life, the importance of choosing a Jewish/Hebrew name for their children was a priority for all.

Using the opportunity of a perfect location, parents and children explored the facilities of JCC Camp Chi and even got to meet camp counselors with a Russian background. These future Jewish campers loved what they saw and can’t wait until they are ready to attend. Roasting marshmallows at the bonfire on Saturday night was another great time to bond and get to know each other better.

There is something that makes our community unique, something that makes us feel connected from the start. We share our immigration story and we share a hope for a Jewish future for our children. As many more Russian-speaking Jewish families in the Chicago area get involved with the RJD, we plan to make our family retreat an annual event in the summer.

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, contact

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