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Winter School on Jewish Studies 2011 

2011 Sefer Winter School on Jewish Studies was held in the Moscow Region recreation center "Pushkino" from January 27 to 31, 2011. These schools (mini-universities) are held annually in the student's winter vacation. Traditionally the Schools on Jewish Studies are organized in close cooperation with the Chais Center for Jewish Studies in Russian (Hebrew University of Jerusalem).

Several lecturers have represented this institutions: professors Cyril Aslanov (course "Linguistic otherness of the Jews throughout the ages") and Shaul Stampfer (plenary lecture "The Geographical Background of Ashkenazi Jewry"), Semyon Goldin, Ilya Lurie, as well as representatives of others Israeli educational institutions: Ilya Dvorkin, Uri Gershovich, Arkady Zeltser. In general, the Israeli scholarly and educational institutions were represented widely as never before: Arkadi Zeltser, director of the Centerfor the Study of Soviet Jews at the Holocaust Memorial Institute Yad Vashem, presented the course with aspects of the history of Soviet Jews in the interwar period and their fates during the Shoah, Uri Gershovich, professor at the Open University of Israel was not only giving his own lectures, but also organized a Beit Midrash conducted in the form of an intellectual play. He also informed the school participants about the possibility of entering the program at the Open University of Israel, for those Russian students who already have bachelor's degrees or higher. Lecture courses at the school were also presented by Russian scholars -Leonid Kogan, Eugene Smagina, Konstantin Burmistrov, Mikhail Seleznev, as well as the representative of the Kiev-Mohyla Academy, Ukraine, Igor Turov.

Support for the School was also provided by the Israeli Cultural Center in Moscow, the Center Director Mirit Wachs and First Secretary of Israeli Embassy in Moscow Shlomo Voskoboinik took part in the school opening. The School opened on January 27, 2011 - a symbolic date, as it is the day declared by the U.N. as International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and the Shoah history is a must in the Sefer schools' curriculum. In this regard, it is remarkable to quote Professor Victor Schnirelman (RAS), an expert on racism and anti-Semitism and one of Sefer School's lecturers, who emphasized that while studying and teaching history in Russia one cannot avoid the processes of anti-Semitism, racism and nationalism. According to him, while studying, for example, the history of the Holocaust we must remember that today the causes that gave rise to these tragic events have not disappeared, they exist and in fact, evolving. "One cannot study society without studying its prejudices and biases. Aren't we seeing today manifestations of racism, neo-Nazism, anti-Semitism?

These things are visible, they evolve and mutate. Today, for example, there is absolutely no racism as it existed in the first half of 20th century. One cannot understand our modern society without realizing that these things still prevail, and they are not paid enough attention to. This is quite clear, especially after the December 2010 events at the Manege Square in Moscow. And we need to know these things, and that's why I've decided to read the course at the Sefer Winter School.

Sefer Center Director Victoria Mochalova announced XVIII International Conference on Jewish Studies (planned on February 1-3, 2011), and announced new titles prepared by the Sefer and its partners to be presented at the Conference. She noted that this year the Memory Book dedicated to Rashid Kaplanov, one of the prominent Russian scholars in the field of Jewish Studies (and one of the Sefer founders) will be published. Irina Kopchenova, Sefer coordinator of educational programs informed the participants about the development of the "Lecture Bureau" project (visiting lecture on the requests from regional universities, educational institutions and communities of Russia and former USSR), as well as about new program called "Small Projects" which is to support initiatives groups and individuals in their activities aimed to development of community life in the academic and educational format. Dr. Alexander Lvov (European University of St. Petersburg) acquainted students with a course of lectures on research marginalized Jewish communities (crypto-Jews, Judaisers, "lost Jews"). He also informed about a possibility of one-year studying at the Center "Petersburg Judaica" for those who already have BA degree or higher. 

The information on previous Winter schools on Jewish studies may be found on the 
Russian section of our website