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Rabbi, Aussie wife build school in Russia

Australian Jewish News

Just a few months ago, Rabbi Levi Stiefel was studying at Chabad’s kollel in Melbourne.

But since December 2006, he has volunteered to live in the small city of Voronezh in Russia and establish a Jewish school where none exists.

“I feel a need to educate people here in regard to their Jewish roots. Jewish culture is also very important. If we want to see a future in Jewish education in Russia grow, this project needs to take place,” Rabbi Stiefel, 25, told the AJN by phone.

There are an estimated 10,000 Jewish people residing in the city.

The school will educate children from preschool to Year 11, as there is no Year 12 in Russia, according to Rabbi Stiefel.

It is set to open in September with at least 25 students, but American-born Rabbi Stiefel hopes there will one day be more than 15 students enrolled at each year level.

Rabbi Stiefel is joined by his Australian-born wife, a granddaughter of Yeshiva Centre director Rabbi Yitzchok Dovid Groner, and their son Yisroel, who was born in Melbourne in September last year.

Rabbi Stiefel and his wife will teach at the school when it opens.

“We plan on staying here and building the Jewish community. We could be here for a while, perhaps indefinitely,” he said.

Voronezh is located some 500 kilmetres south of Moscow. The city has a synagogue, but Rabbi Stiefel is also hoping to build a Jewish community centre there.

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