UJA-Federation of New York recently granted $50,000 in emergency funding for Hillel's 2005 Pesach Project following the expiration of a grant from a New York area private foundation. The Pesach Project allowed Jews from all over the former Soviet Union (FSU) to share in the warmth and celebration of a Passover Seder in large community settings, schools, "warm houses" for the elderly, intimate family gatherings and the apartments of homebound individuals. For the ninth year, university students from the 27 Hillel affiliates in the FSU led more than 500 Seders for more than 24,000 of their fellow Jews in Russia, Ukraine and five other former Soviet republics.
"Our students perform a wonderful mitzvah by bringing their Jewish traditions to their communities, many of which were devoid of Jewish life for so many years," said Hillel International President Avraham Infeld. "Thanks to the UJA-Federation of New York's generosity, the Pesach Project will bring tremendous joy to the student leaders and their guests."
The support of UJA-Federation of New York enables Hillel to train hundreds of students to lead Seders and visit the elderly in hundreds of communities. The training seminars give the coordinators the skills necessary to plan the Pesach Project, lead Seders, train other students to lead Seders and work with visiting foreign counterparts from North American and Israel.
The Hillel Pesach Project has had a tremendous impact on many communities throughout the FSU throughout the years. Some communities have learned to conduct Seders on their own using Hillel's interactive Haggadah, which is written in Hebrew, Russian and Russian transliteration. Hillel students have taught their families how to do Seders at home, and thousands of Jews in the FSU have been connected to the Jewish community through their participation in Pesach Seders.
For more information about Hillel in the FSU, please visit http://www.hillel.ru/history_eng/.