The XVIII International Conference on Jewish Studies, February 1-3, 2011
The XVIII Annual International Conference on Jewish Studies took place in Moscow, February 1-3, 2011, with the support of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), Genesis Philanthropy Group, the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress (EAJC), the Russian Jewish Congress (RJC), the Dutch Jewish Humanitarian Fund and the Israeli Cultural Center in Moscow.Informational support was provided by the website Booknik: Jewish texts and themes.
The conference – one of the most significant events in Jewish Studies in Russia – was attended by over 150 scientists, university professors and students from the CIS and Baltic States, Israel, USA, Austria and Poland. Among the participants and guests were Mikhail Chlenov (Sefer Academic Board Chairman, Secretary General of the EAJC), Yuri Kanner (President of the RJC), Alec Nadan (Director of the JDC Moscow office); representatives of the Embassy of the State of Israel – Michael Pellivert, Yossie Tavor, and Shlomo Voskoboinik; Israeli scholars – Cyril Aslanov, Ilya Dvorkin, Alec Epstein, Uri Gershovich, Semyon Goldin, Ilia Lurie, Shaul Stampfer, Batya Valdman, Aharon Weiss; representatives of the Yad Vashem Institute – Sana Britavsky, Tanya Manusova, Arkadi Zeltser; Russian scholars – Ilya Altman, Valery Dymshits, Dmitry Elyashevich, Alla Gerber, Lilia Kalmina, Tatiana Karasova, Leonid Katsis, Evgenia Khazdan, Victor Kelner, Alexander Kobrinsky, Irina Lapina, Alexander Lokshin, Elena Nosenko-Stein, Vladimir Petrukhin, Eugene Rashkovsky, Sergey Tishchenko, Efim Zhigun (presented report by Evgeny Satanovsky), and many others.
At the Conference opening Sefer director Victoria Mochalova delivered the greeting messages from the JDC Honorary Vice-President Ralph Goldman, one of the Sefer "founding fathers", and, as well, Prof. Haim Avni (Hebrew University of Jerusalem). RJC President Yuri Kanner who took part in opening and closing the Conference, and also visited several panels, said that Moscow is becoming one of the centers of Jewish Education and Science. "The Russian Jewish Congress promotes the formation of the modern Jewish community, and it is very important what happens here today," - said the head of a river. He also urged the scientific community and public officials to cooperate with the rivers in order to attract additional funding for implementation of academic and educational programs: RJC is - a tool for fundraising. And we are ready to cooperate with everybody".
Head of the JDC Moscow office Alec Nadan noticed that the Sefer conferences contribute to discovering historical truth and objective perception of events in the development of inter-national relations. "All this is very important, because terrorism, and racism and negative stereotypes still exist, and we must fight them", - emphasized Mr. Nadan. He also noted the importance of the Sefer and the Jewish academic community of communities and countries that represent the participants of the conference: "Today, the life of the Jewish community in Russia and the former Soviet without Sefer is unimaginable".
Opening remarks were also given be the first secretary of the Embassy of Israel in Moscow Mr. Shlomo Voskoboinik, who was representing the Israeli Cultural Center in Moscow. This year it is the first time ICC participated in the Sefer’s conference on Jewish Studies. This is especially significant as 2011 marks the 20th anniversary of the restoration of Russian-Israeli diplomatic relations (a special panel was devoted to this date at the Conference).
Other panels at the conference were covering such issues as Biblical Studies, Judaism and Jewish thought, Jewish-Christian relations, different periods of Jewish history, the Holocaust (this section was first organized in close cooperation with the Jerusalem Institute Yad Vashem), the Modern Israeli society, Sociology and Ethnology, Jewish literature and Literary relations, Visual arts, Music, Theater and Film.
According to the prevailing academic tradition, the section "History of Jews in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Time" was dedicated to the memory of the late Ukrainian Professor Boris Elkin (1947–2011), who had done a lot for the establishment of Jewish Studies in the Ukraine; and the section "Hebrew Language: Learning and Teaching" – to the memory of Professor, Member of the Georgian Academy of Sciences, Konstantin G. Tsereteli (1921–2004), an outstanding representative of the Georgia School of Semitic studies. In this connection, the conference received congratulatory telegram from the President of the National Academy of Sciences of Georgia, Academician T. Gamkrelidze.
New publications on Jewish studies were presented at the Conference. In particular, Sefer Center made a presentation of the Proceedings of the 17th annual Jewish studies conference (2010), as well as an Annual conference devoted to the comparative study of Slavic and Jewish cultural tradition ("Dialogue of Generations"), and a collection of articles and memoires dedicated to the memory of prematurely departed Rashid Kaplanov (1949–2007) – first Chairman of the Sefer Academic Board and one of the prominent Russian scientists, who devoted his life to Jewish Studies and education.
There were also presented new issues published during last year:
- the French translation of The Book of Pogroms, which appeared previously with support of Sefer (Book of the pogroms. Pogroms in the Ukraine, Belarus and the European part of Russia during the Civil War 1918–1922. A Collection of Documents. Moscow, ROSSPEN, 2007, 995 pages) – L. Milakova, N. Werth. Le livre des pogroms. Antichambre d'un génocide – Ukraine, Russie, Biélorussie. 1917–1922;
- Documents on the History and Culture of Jews in the Archives of St. Petersburg: A Guide. Volume 1: Federal Archives;
- the latest books issued by the largest Judaica books publishers Text and Scribes;
Gesharim / Bridges of Culture - Khazars: Myth and History,
Studia Anthropologica: a collection of articles in honor of Michael Chlenov.
A special presentation of the publications on the Holocaust took place, among them – the publications by the Yad Vashem; the 2nd edition of The Encyclopedia: The Holocaust in the Soviet Union, and many others.
The fourteen-volume edition under the title of “Activi”: Anthology for Jewish Educator, published with the support of the JDC, was also introduced.
On the eve of the conference (27-31 January) in the hotel ITAR-TASS Pushkino near Moscow the annual Sefer Winter School in Jewish Studies as a part of the Sefer educational projects was held, co-organized with the Chais Center for the development of Jewish studies in Russian (Hebrew University of Jerusalem).