Supporting Progressive Judaism in the Former Soviet Union
What does Community Connections do?
We work with Progressive Jewish communities in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.
We encourage congregations in the UK to twin with new communities in these FSU countries so that they are supported by fellow Jews as they re-discover their religious traditions.
We liaise with local Rabbis and lay leaders to select communities where partnerships would be welcomed, and then advise our members on how to take these twinning links forward. Members can contact us at all stages when help or advice is required.
In addition to our main work facilitating twinnings, we also arrange for rabbis, lay leaders and those with specialist skills to attend and teach at seminars in the FSU. We maintain contact with rabbis in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus to keep up-to-date with local needs and developments. We act as a resource and information centre, working closely with UK congregations to co-ordinate twinnings, advise on organising visits between congregations, and provide information.
Background to Community Connections (formerly Exodus 2000)
After the fall of Communism, when emigration from the former Soviet Union (FSU) was resumed, Jews in Russian, Ukraine and Belarus who did not wish to leave their homes and families were rediscovering Judaism. Exodus 2000 was formed to help encourage and assist those who wanted to learn more about Jewish life and religion – something that was forbidden by the authorities during Communist rule.
After having worked with developing communities in the FSU countries for nearly 20 years, we changed our name to Community Connections - which we feel better reflects our current role connecting communities together and working in partnership to support their growth. We work closely with colleagues in the FSU office of the World Union for Progressive Judaism in Jerusalem as well as with Rabbis and lay leaders based in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. As part of the EUPJ, we maintain links with the Movement for Reform Judaism and Liberal Judaism.
What's in it for our communities?
A Community Connections twinning link is an additional interest for any Progressive community. It broadens the minds of members and increases awareness of the wider Jewish community through your connection, publicity and group visits.
UK Congregations in twinning relationships have formed close friendships with their counterparts in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine, and more new links are being forged all the time
How can you help?
Set up a group in your Synagogue and give a little of your time to maintain contact with a congregation in the FSU.
Help to provide much-needed support in the form of resources for religion schools and kindergartens, organise teaching programmes, arrange visits from UK rabbis and lay leaders, send items of Judaica such as Shabbat candlesticks and candles, chanukiot, chanukah candles, tallitot, kippot, and where appropriate, humanitarian aid in the form of clothing, toiletries and permitted medicines.
Offer the specialist skills you possess from which they could benefit.
Join the National Co-ordinating Group and help develop projects for fundraising as well as supporting other Synagogue groups.
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You can contact us via the EUPJ office. We look forward to hearing from you.