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Home » News » A Weekend to Remember V - National Russian Shabbaton

Fifth Annual National Russian Jewish Shabbaton


This past weekend, Chamah, in partnership with the LYO organization hosted the Fifth Annual, National Russian Jewish Shabbaton at the Stamford Plaza Hotel and Conference Center in Stamford, CT. The annual event drew almost 1,000 participants of all ages from all over the country.

Despite snow and sleet dousing the Northeast and much of the country, the Shabbaton—which featured speakers such as Rabbi Boruch Gorin, spokesman for the Federation of Jewish Communities of the Former Soviet Union; Rabbi Tzvi Freeman of; and noted Kabbalah coach Shimona Tzukernik, as well as performances by singing sensation Lipa Schmeltzer and award-winning Israeli composer Zlata Razdolina—took place without a hitch.

“In the Soviet Union, we Russian Jews lost the opportunity to study Judaism, but even in the hardest of times there was always a strong connection to our heritage,” says Chamah’s program director Rabbi Benzion Laskin. “

Here in America, we have the opportunity to learn and study our heritage, and you can see just by the growth of the Shabbaton year to year that there is a real hunger for that knowledge. No snowstorm was able to hold them back from attending.”

Ronn Torossian, founder and CEO of 5W Public Relations in New York City was one of the featured speakers at the Shabbaton. He explained that although American Jewry was instrumental in helping free Jews from the Soviet Union, not enough has been done to connect them to their heritage once they settled in the United States.

“I think American Jewry did a great job at ‘Let My People Go,’ but not nearly enough to ‘Let My People Know,’ ” says Torossian, who, though not Russian himself, is married to a Russian Jew.

A special program for the children was run at the same time as the general program by Mrs. Chana Zaltzman and Mrs. Chaya Mushka Drukman.

“This Shabbaton brought together three generations: grandparents, who suffered the worst under Soviet oppression; parents, who immigrated here; and children, born here and now free to connect to their faith. Many of the grandparents had tears in their eyes, seeing their descendants so happy to be celebrating their Jewishness.

“Many were inspired to add something significant in their Jewish lives,” explains Rabbi Kasriel Kastel.

Leah Negrimovsky, a Brooklyn College psychology major who attended for the first time, says “thanks to the Shabbaton, I realized how lucky and proud I am to be a Jew. There were so many interesting lectures going on at once that it was difficult to choose one.”

A very special thanks must be expressed to the Chamah staff who worked continuously behind the scenes to make this event the great success that it was: Executive committee: Rabbi Hillel Zaltzman, Rabbi Moshiach Chudaitov, Rabbi Binyomin Malachovski. Registration Committee: Elana Litkowski, Yosef Moya, Levi Levin. And to Rabbi Baruch Lepkivker, program director of Bris Avrohom, that helped us very much in the program preparation. As well to Mrs. Chedva Federman for organizing a special chinese auction and leading inspirational teen discussions.