November 30, 2023

In Lublin, Poland over 150 Ukrainian Jews gathered for a three-day event hosted by Limmud FSU, a nonprofit organization founded by Israeli Chaim Chesler and American Sandra Cahn, where the event served as an occasion for a welcome respite during difficult times. Most of those who attended the event traveled overland from Ukraine, and the rest came from elsewhere in Poland, as well as from the Netherlands, Germany, and Israel. The event turned Lublin’s Hotel Victoria into a hub of Jewish learning, music, dance, games, food, and joy. The city of Lublin, which for centuries before the Holocaust had been a thriving center of Jewish life and is located only 60 miles from the Ukraine border, was a symbolically important location for the event. The event stood as a testament to the resilience and unity shared by the State of Israel and Ukrainian Jews in these trying times. With the war in Ukraine, and the troubles in Israel, the event was a place for Jewish identity and community to be fostered and strengthened. The event was less cerebral and more emotional, providing a strong sense of unity among the participants. Despite the challenges, the participants were hopeful that the security situation in Ukraine is improving, especially in Kyiv. The hope is that next year the conference can be held in Ukraine. Limmud FSU nurtures open, pluralistic, dynamic learning platforms across the world for Jews of all ages and backgrounds with roots in the former Soviet Union, while embracing the Jewish intellectual, cultural, and religious traditions grounded in this shared experience.