Russian-Jewish group first to join Federation's network since 1995.
For the first time in almost 20 years, the UJA-Federation of New York brought a new agency into its network on Thursday: COJECO, the Council of Jewish Émigré Community Organizations, which is the central coordinating body of New York’s Russian Jewish community, said Roberta Leiner, senior vice president of agency relations at the Federation.
Chabad on the Bowery recently played host to a group of young Jews, some wearing kippot or long skirts, others less clearly Jewish-affiliated. What made this event singular was that most of its attendees were speaking Russian or Russian-tinged English.
They express their Jewish identity more through culture than religion.
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Gennadiy Elikman came with his family to Chicago from Moldova, formerly a part of the Soviet Union, as a teenager in 1999. He was immediately enrolled at the Ida Crown Jewish Academy, a Modern Orthodox day school, knowing “nothing, zero” about Judaism, he says. But he has a vivid memory of being given a Torah to hold. “I didn’t know what it was but my hands began to shake — it was a powerful feeling.”