February 16, 2012 / 23 Shvat 5772
One freezing Saint Petersburg weekend in February 2012 was warmed by a Post-Taglit event. The three-day seminar took place outside the city, in Repino, over the weekend of 10-12 February. Over 50 young Jewish persons gathered to discuss issues pertaining to Jews in the Diaspora.
During the weekend, participants had the opportunity to gain an overview of important moments of Diasporic Jewish history with local historian, Sergey Mitrophanov. They compared and contrasted Ashkenaz and Mizrah culture with Nickolay Demianov and Leonid Landa, well-known lecturers and educators. Events and leaders in the Diaspora eventually led to the State of Israel being established, and along with its cultural and political facets, the concept of a country as a “melting pot” was introduced. To present the concept more vividly, we invited Daniel Agranov, Israeli consulate in Saint Petersburg to address the students.
Our participants enjoyed a good time with the professional counselors of JAFI, who were responsible for the atmosphere, communication, and fun at the seminar. The first event, an ice-breaker, looked like an online space where participants could post in Twitter, ask questions in Formspring, share their music taste on Steromood, and so on. The knowledge students received during the lectures could then be used while playing Jeopardy. It was not so easy – try it for yourselves: Do you believe that Jews in China became rich by trading opium? The middle of the seminar was marked by an amazing atmospheric midrash held in two cafés – one Oriental and one Soviet – with texts and stories about establishing Israel. Finally, educational opportunities for students in Israel, like MASA and SELA, were presented to inform participants about their chance to study in Israel.
This seminar was a starting point of JAFI’s renewing its work with students. Yana Brook, the director of the project, declared the February seminar a “success” and is excited for the project’s continuation. Feedback from participants was also positive and they too are looking forward to further events.