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Online Winter School on Jewish Studies “Back to the Future”

(Moscow, February 2–5, 2023)

Winter School website

The Online Winter School on Jewish Studies was held February 2–5, 2023 by the Autonomous Non-Profit Organization for Academic Research and Humanitarian Purposes Center Sefer. The school was supported by the Embassy of the State of Israel, the Russian Jewish Congress, the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress and JOODS Humanitair Fonds. The project is implemented by the winner of the contest at the invitation of the charitable program "Effective Philanthropy" of the Vladimir Potanin Charitable Foundation.The School was devoted to Jewish history and culture in the late Russian imperial and Soviet years, history and culture of the State of Israel, the relationship between the American Jewish diaspora and Israel. Two parallel lecture tracks will include various aspects of the general topic: Jewish refugees and evacuees during the Second World War; the fate of Jews during evacuation compared to other population groups; the successes of Soviet Jews in the off-the-books and semi-legal economy; the image of Jews as inhabitants of "places in the sun", opposed to the image of "simple honest Russian people" and the Jews’ reactions to such attitude; the problem of preservation and representation of the Jewish cultural heritage by various scientific and museum institutions in Russia and the USSR (1900s - 1930s); the connections among the concepts of "culture", "innovation" and "entrepreneurship" as exemplified by the State of Israel; the specifics of the current stage of Israel's political development; the origins of the crisis in the relations between the Jewish community of the United States and Israel.

The School program included mini-courses (consisting of 4 lectures). Each participant of the school could listen to 3 mini-courses and plenary lectures, as well as to participate in the online-quest, master classes and a cultural program.

Tracks and mini-courses:


1 lecture

2 lecture

3 lecture


Back in the USSR



Zeev Levin


Evacuation, Deportation, Refugees of the Great Patriotic War in the Soviet Rear: Perspective from the 2022 


Galina Zelenina


Jews, Money and "Authorities" in the Soviet Union



Александр Иванов


Jewish Ethnographic Field Expeditions and Museum Construction in Russia and USSR in 1900-s – 1930-s 


Dmitry Maryasis


Culture, Innovations, Entrepreneurs. Israel's Experience

Elizaveta Yakimova


State at the Crossroads: Politics of Israel amidst the Crisis

Luisa Khlebnikova


American Jews and Israel: from unconditional support to gradual estrangement?

Participants' feedback:

Ekaterina (Moscow): Great experience! I would like to thank you for organizing this event. And special thanks for the selection of teachers - professionals of the highest level. I expected that I would get a huge carload of knowledge on various topics and I did). I was afraid that with my amateur level of knowledge in Jewish and Israeli studies, I would not be able to fully participate in the Sefer winter school. This expectation did not come true, for which many thanks to the teachers and organizers, who are most loyal to the participants of the school.

Anna (Astrakhan): Thank you for the most interesting lectures! I liked it very much! Exceeded my expectations. Enthusiastic teachers, feedback, interesting lectures.

Ruslan (Moscow): The school fully met my expectations and gave me food for thought on important topics that have not yet received close attention. I take part in the school of the Sefer Center for the second time and the knowledge gained in the framework of my first School is already being used in my work, teaching courses on the theory of state and law, human rights. In addition, now I continue to work on the introduction into the educational process of a course for future lawyers to study the history of the Holocaust in the context of understanding the role of law in society.

Elena (St. Petersburg) Can you briefly? AMAZING, MAGICAL and FUN! Thank you all so much for your incredible work! Every school is amazing! Just keep up the good work, you are amazing and inspiring! The expectations from the level of lecturers, the organization of the process itself and the work with the SFIRA database were fully justified. The laboratory made it possible to touch people's stories through interview materials. Being involved as a volunteer in catalogs of interviews, coding, storing information - for me personally, to keep the memory of someone in the global brain (Internet), to see how the idea of digital immortality is being created. The knowledge gained while working in Sefira gave an idea of a new way of encoding data. Previously conducted schools deepened my understanding of urban studies (which is why I actively use it in my research), moreover, commemorative studies allowed for a very deep analysis in the research project and echoed the "river of time" by S. Murunov (which made it possible to find the cultural codes of one city).

Yulian (Minsk): It's great that it did take place! Sefer's schools once every six months is a comfortable period of time when you have time to miss them, but not directly at all; and if once a year - it would be too rare! :) I actively use lecture materials and recommended sources in my teaching activities within the framework of projects in Jewish organizations. Also, participation in lectures allows you to understand in detail the topics "for yourself", to understand things and relationships that were not obvious before. I see Sefer's schools (and webinars) as a refresher course on all of these topics.

Olga (Vilnius-Warsaw): Admiration. Everything is very professional and at the same time useful and understandable even for a beginner like me. Systematic and lively presentation of the material, a detailed presentation of the stated topics, saturation with examples. The laboratory is built very useful. There is an opportunity to look at the experience of colleagues, understand the logic of work and, most importantly, try. Work on processing interviews in the proposed format allows you to focus existing knowledge, assess your own potential. The interview database is a treasure trove of information, and the available tags help you make the most of this treasure trove. Thanks to the laboratory, I not only trained as a researcher, but really re-evaluated the potential of the base.Anastasia (St. Petersburg) I'm in the resource! I had an extremely difficult session, but thanks to SEFERU I rebooted and now I can move on with renewed vigor. In general, I experienced an unreal buzz, although until February 2 I knew practically nothing about Jews 😆. Very convenient and colorful site. I gained invaluable knowledge - I really liked the courses on Jews and money, evacuation and refugees, and also the database laboratory! I enrolled in ethnography and am delighted with your convenient system! Happy to touch your business!!!

Victoria (Moscow): The lectures are excellent, the lecturers are wonderful, everything is clear and very interesting. I use the information received to write articles on the topic of my PhD thesis.

Check out our previous online schools' websites and watch the lectures' recordings:

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