ISRAEL - Russian-Speaking Jews Who Shaped the Nation

Arno Froese

Luminaries such as Josef Trumpeldor, Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, Natan Sharansky, Hayim Nahman Bialik, Chaim Weizmann, Moshe Sharett and Levi Eshkol were some of the best-known pioneers who shaped modern Zionism and the State of Israel. What do all of these soldiers, linguists, poets, scientists and politicians have in common? They all represent the community that today is called “Russian-speaking Jews.”

A new website, “Seventy Russian-Speaking Jews Who Shaped Israel,” has been launched by The Jerusalem Post with Genesis Philanthropy Group’s support. The goal of the site is to educate as many people as possible about the contributions of Russian-speaking Jewry throughout history. The project highlights the monumental contributions of 70 Russian-speaking Jews who helped create modern Israel, including artists, intellectuals, political and military leaders, and many of the movers and shakers whose legacies and influence can still be felt throughout the world today.

“Genesis Philanthropy Group was launched more than 10 years ago, with the mission of strengthening the Jewish identity of Russian-speaking Jews around the world,” says Ilia Salita, president and CEO of GPG. “Russian-speaking Jews have contributed a great deal to the world and helped shape the course of world history for the better. But, without a shared sense of pride, it is hard for future generations to connect to their heritage. We strive—through this project and all of our work—to foster intellectual awareness of and an emotional connection to what has been accomplished by those who came before us, and to inspire the next generation of leaders to step into their shoes.”

Salita explains that the project’s benefits and educational value are most important for two groups: Russian-speaking Jews around the world, who for too long have not fully appreciated their history, and the Jewish community at large, which can fully honor and preserve its own history only by knowing the full story. Both groups have something unique to take away from the project, and Salita hopes they both will.

“Everyone remembers the huge Russian aliyah, and everyone talks about the Start-Up Nation and the role of the Russian-speaking Jews in helping position Israel as a global technology leader, but that’s not enough,” says Salita.

The many years of antisemitism during Communist rule, Salita says, ironically helped the Russian Jews preserve their identity, “because if the world around you doesn’t let you forget that you are Jewish, then there is perhaps no stronger and more immutable force driving your Jewish identity.”

-www.jpost.com, 17 March 2019

Arno's commentary

Some 2,600 years ago, the prophet Jeremiah had this say about the country to the north of Israel (Russia): “Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that it shall no more be said, The Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; But, The Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers” (Jeremiah 16:14-15).

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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