Media Release – 22 October 2014
Zionist Federation of Australia welcomes Harry Triguboff’s commitment to connect with the Russian Speaking Jewish Community in Sydney
The ZFA is delighted to announce the expansion of our successful and important initiatives to engage the Russian Speaking Jewish community (RSJC) with Israel, Zionism and Jewish identity. With generous support from Mr Harry Triguboff AO, we are delighted to be embarking on a concerted strategy to engage the Russian Speaking Jewish community of NSW in a range of programs and activities, primarily focused on developing a cadre of young activists and leaders, ensuring the future of this significant and to date, less involved segment of our community.
In 2012, the Sasha Klyachkina was appointed as the first RSJC shlicha to Australia, following research undertaken by the Jewish Agency for Israel in conjunction with the ZFA. The shlichut is supported by the Jewish Agency for Israel, the World Zionist Organisation and the ZFA, with the generous support of the Pratt Foundation. Whilst hers is a national position, the considerable success of the project to date has highlighted the fact that there is a great deal of work to be done and potential to be achieved in Sydney, which requires a dedicated staff member and a program of activities directly targeting the NSW RSJ community.
The support of Mr Triguboff has enabled the ZFA to employ a coordinator, Sabina Avshalom, who will work together with Sasha in developing this program.
In a huge “kickstart” for the project, in 2013 and 2014, the first KangaRusski Birthright groups, exclusively for young adults of Russian Jewish background, visited Israel for their 10 day “trips of a lifetime”. The participants returned and some subsequently became involved in leadership programs and have since become active young leaders.
Plans are already underway to present the inaugural Limmud FSU in Australia in March 2015, a weekend “feast” of speakers on culture, politics and Jewish identity. With an anticipated attendance of over 300 people, this will be yet another game changer in the development of the relationship between the RSJ community and the broader Jewish and Zionist community.
These initiatives provide a wonderful grounding for Sabina’s work with the Sydney RSJ community.
“The success of the RSJC project to date has been phenomenal” remarked ZFA President, Dr Danny Lamm. “However, without a dedicated professional in Sydney, our impact there would be limited. The commitment of Mr Triguboff to support this project for the coming three years is testament not only to his generosity but also to his foresight in understanding the crucial need for engagement now with this community in order to connect the youth and young adults with their Jewish identity and Israel in the future. We are thrilled with the opportunities that having a Sydney coordinator will provide”.
Mr Triguboff is internationally recognised for his efforts to directly enhance the lives of Russian speaking Jews particularly in the FSU and in Isral, via his support and leadership of the Shorashim project and other ventures. Supporting outreach to Russian speaking Jews in Sydney is a natural extension of these efforts and further evidence of his commitment.
Mr Triguboff said: “Saving Jews from the former Soviet Union in terms of their Jewish identity and smoothing their path into acceptance by the Israeli Rabbinate made me even more aware of the large Russian speaking community in Sydney and I am eager to further efforts to bring them closer to both their Jewish roots and to the Australian Jewish community for the sake of Jewish continuity.”