Vlad Khaykin Writes about the changes in Jewish life since the Soviet eraRussia is a different place today than it was the last time I was here some thirteen years ago, and certainly much different than the country from which my family emigrated in 1989. As Russia drifts further away from its Soviet past and economic and other developments continue to improve the life of the average Russian, the Former Soviet Union has become a more hospitable environment for the blossoming of Jewish life. During our trip thus far we have experienced a number of developments in Moscow’s Jewish community that would have been unimaginable even fifteen years ago. Perhaps the most striking of these is the recent expansion of the Lipman Jewish School, as it is known. A multi-story educational complex, the Lipman school -- complete with a gymnasium, theatre, modern kosher cafeteria, computer and video labs, art studio, and a beautiful synagogue -- is a testament to the incredible rennaissance of Jewish life in the Former Soviet Union.
Upon arrival at the school we were greeted by several of its older students from the school -- including several whom I recognized from Brandeis’ Genesis program last summer -- and were welcomed by the principal and founder of the Lipman School, Gregory Lipman. After a tour of this amazing school, with each Hornsteiner assigned their own student guide, we watched two videos about the development of the school and student life, the latter of which was produced entirely by the students in their modern multimedia lab. Following this was a question and answer session between Hornstein and the Lipman students and their principal. Both groups were interested in one another and had many questions to ask. One Lipman student, who was beginning his college application process, expressed interest in Brandeis University. We look forward to a fruitful relationship between our communities and anticipate receiving many quality applicants to Brandeis University from this amazing Jewish school.
Moreover, our visit left us incredibly inspired and hopeful about the future of Jewish life in the FSU. Where just several decades ago learning Hebrew was considered subversive activity and expressing zionist sentiments would get one thrown in jail or sent off to a Siberian gulag (work-camp), today Russia's Jews can openly send their children to a Jewish school that would be the envy of many North American Jewish communities.