An exciting series of personal development seminars are taking place throughout Russia this month, designed to provide young Jewish adults with the opportunity to take a deeper look at themselves and the world around. There are seven seminars, called Zoom, one for each geographical region of the country. The series is organized by Yahad, FJC’s programs platform, and each seminar brings together about 100-150 young Jewish adults aged 18-28.
Zoom seminars are focused on self-development, with the project’s motto being “I am a Project.” There are many lectures and workshops with psychologists, life-coaches and trainers. The subjects, however, are dissected through the prism of Jewish heritage and outlook, with many lecturers also being recognized leaders in Jewish informal education. “This mix of fulfilling spirituality, coaching and fun social activities is unique to Zoom and helps our young people grow to be proud, responsible adults aware of themselves and the community,” said Rabbi Mendy Wilansky, director of the Yahad platform.
Two seminars, one in the Volga region and one in Russia’s Far-East already took place in the beginning of the month, another one in Siberia concluded yesterday, with the rest to follow in the coming weeks. This is the third year of Zoom seminars, though the first time on such a large scale, rabbi Wilansky said. “These seminars are divided geographically first of all in order for young people from neighboring cities to connect, to create a feeling of continuity, and realize that they are the future of their region’s Jewish communities,” he added.
Every year a different city from the region becomes the seminar host. This year the host cities are Kazan, Khabarovsk, Krasnoyarsk, Tyumen, Rostov, Bryansk and Petersburg. The seminar in Petersburg will also host representatives from the other FSU countries, such as Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan that want to bring the Zoom initiative to their communities next year.
Zoom, being a youth seminar, is also an active dating scene, with a real professional matchmaker on site. “It gives an alternative to those young adults who can not commit to longer programs, such as EuroStars, to nevertheless get a taste of this young adult Jewish culture in the FSU,” rabbi Wilansky said.
So far, the participants were very impressed by the the seminars and their level of impact . “This was really something incredible,” was the overwhelming sentiment among the participants in Khabarovsk and Kazan, Zoom coordinator Levy Druts said.