Kharkov Hillel celebrates its 10th anniversary with song and dance.
Kharkov Hillel commemorated its 10th anniversary with a song and dance celebration that included the best performances by Kharkov Hillel students over the last 10 years. Appropriately called, “Simply the Best!,” more than 500 students, alumni and guests attended the celebration. The students put together a program comprised of old and new, well-known performances. A group of children also took to the stage to celebrate Hillel -- where their parents met and fell in love.
“It was truly a celebration of friendship – so many Hillel alumni came to meet their friends with whom they shared so many fun activities, trips, experiences. We could feel the love and support of the audience when performing some of our favorite songs. In so little time, Kharkov Hillel has meant so much to the young people and the whole community,” said Kharkov Hillel student Anna Nesmachnaya, who also performed at the celebration.
“Hillel’s 10th birthday for me was not just a anniversary of student organization, it felt like an important occasion in the life of a friend,” said Katya Zakharova.
Among the guests who congratulated Kharkov Hillel and its director Yulia Pototskaya were: Hillel’s President Emeritus Avraham Infeld, CASE Hillel regional director Osik Akselrud, First Secretary of Israeli embassy in Ukraine Felix Mendel, JDC Regional Director Shauli Dritter, Kharkov JDC shaliach Shira Genish, President of Limmud in FSU Chaim Chesler, the President of Kharkov Jewish Community Grigoriy Shoychet, the community leaders and professionals.
“Hillel has shown how much it has achieved in the last 10 years and proved that it is still growing and developing. I’m sure it will reach whatever high goals it sets for itself in the next decade,” said Zhenya Malitskaya.
First opened in 1997, Kharkov Hillel has grown from a small group of enthusiasts into an organization of more than 400 people.
Today, Kharkov Hillel remains committed to teaching students about Judaism and the Jewish world, in all its diversity. It conducts weekly Shabbat and Havdalah services, holds holiday projects and programs throughout the Jewish calendar. Kharkov Hillel also runs studios and programs where the students can develop and show their talents. Classes include: Jewish tradition, Hebrew, Theater, Jewish dance, psychology, English, German, Shaping, student leadership academy, “Esther” fashion studio, educational video project, modern dance group, ‘White theater’ light painting studio.
It has become a tradition to hold annual holiday projects (Pesach and Purim) together with Hillel students from Washington, D.C. area. The students hold Pesach seders and programs, give performances, visit elderly and needy people, learn about Jewish life of Kharkov and region. Together with the students from the International Jewish College Corps, Kharkov Hillel students clean up the Jewish cemetery and do other volunteer work in the community. Alternative Summer Break ¬is the result of a partnership between Michigan, Florida and Kharkov Hillel supported by AJJDC. The students from the U.S. join their Kharkov Hillel peers to paint apartments of Jewish families in need and refurbish Jewish community facilities.
Hillel gives students a unique opportunity to meet young people from other cities and countries, take part in the engaging educational seminars and make trips around former Soviet Union countries, Israel and USA. Hillel is an inalienable part of the Kharkov Jewish community, one of the most active participants in the reviving the Jewish community life in the city. Collaborating closely with other Jewish organizations in the city, Kharkov Hillel volunteers envelop with their work all the layers of Jewish population. Hillel students run family programs summer camps, programs for veterans, elderly and needy people, the programs for school children and for kids. One of the main tasks of Hillel is to bring up the young Jewish leaders and today many Hillel alumni work in different Jewish organizations of the city and Kharkov Hillel proudly represents the Jewish community in the cultural and public life of the city.
The motto of Kharkov Hillel is: "Hillel for Students, Students for Community." Youth is the future of any nation and Hillel's main task is to ensure a worthy future for the Jewish people.
“I am called 'a Hillel veteran',” said Oksana Galkevich. “But almost 10 years ago, when I first came to Kharkov Hillel, I could not even imagine that places like this exist. I have changed many work places since then, but I have never actually left Hillel.”