A NEW organisation has been set up specifically for Russian Jews in Australia.
The Australian Forum of Russian Speaking Jewry (AFRJ) was officially launched in Melbourne on July 9, with Member for Caulfield David Southwick, Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA) president Dr Danny Lamm and Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) president Nina Bassat among those attending the launch.
AFRJ president Alex Taube said the goal of the Australian branch of the World Forum of Russian Speaking Jewry is to “maintain [the] Jewishness” of Russian-speaking Jews, which he said comprise nearly 25 per cent of the 120,000 Jews living in Australia.
“Although Russian-speaking Jews in Australia have achieved significant professional success, their participation in the social life in the existing Australian Jewish community is negligible,” Taube said.
“This is our next task. To be united with other Jewish organisations, to offer them help and to prepare our leaders to represent the views of the Russian-speaking Jewish community.”
Taube said the organisation’s most important mission is to promote the development of Jewish identity among Russian-speaking Jews in Australia.
“We dream of Russian-speaking Jews becoming an integral part of the Australian Jewish life.
“We dream that our children will feel Jewish, and acknowledge their heritage. It is our job, it is our mission, it is our duty – to give them a chance to feel Jewish and be proud of it.”
One of the first items on AFRJ’s agenda is to organise a meeting of the Russian-speaking community with Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s Soviet-born Minister of Foreign Affairs of Israel, during his first official visit to Australia.
As well as establishing a program on Melbourne Jewish radio station J-Air, AFRJ will also be involved in organising the first-ever Limmud FSU (former Soviet Union) in Australia, to be held in Melbourne in March next year.
The ZFA is working with the AFRJ through the appointment of Melbourne-based shlichah Sasha Klyachkina, whose responsibility is working with young members of the Russian-speaking Jewish community, and shortly in Sydney through a similar appointment, funded by philanthropist Harry Triguboff.
Dr Lamm said: “This period is ‘do or die’ for the Russian-speaking Jewish community as the rate of assimilation is enormous, and AFRJ’s goal of preservation of Jewish tradition is one that … the ZFA are committed to and the ZFA has pledged its support to the new executive.”
Alex Taube at the launch of the AFRJ.