Magshimey Herut Russia (Saint-Petersburg), in cooperation with Israel’s Ministry of Education the World Zionist Organization, is currently working on a project called “Zorim Tziyonut” – Zionist Outreach.
The impetus behind this program is to show a different Israel – not Israel as the Promised Land or as a nation surrounded by aggressive Arab neighbors or suffering from rising anti-Semitism, but rather Israel as a normal country in which people are living with their own problems. MH Herut Russia intends to disseminate this message through the following mediums:
Literature, cinema, music, and photography.
Therefore “Zorim Tziyonut” – Zionist Outreach, doesn’t compete with other Jewish organizations and their work, but creates something entirely new. In particular, we regularly organize activities which can be interesting for Jewish youth – who today are quite far removed from the Jewish tradition and Jewish organizations. Some of our ideas were already executed by other organizations, however, it was our innovative approach which made the difference. Additionally, MH will be creating and running activities on a regular basis using innovative formats designed to keep the participants’ interest.
For the past year and a half, we have been creating a large Zionist youth leaders group to focus on this project.
The following ideas and programs – with help from Jewish informal organizations such as: the Jewish Community Center, the CREAM (Club of Fun of Jewish youth), and The Jewish Agency’s Center of Youth Initiatives – have been implemented
1. Mad Tea Party – Movies + cocktails that show Israel from the perspective of film.
The project gives a glimpse into the life of Israelis through cinema. The host is Konstantin Uchitel – a well known musical critic in St. Petersburg and a lecturer at the St. Petersburg State Academy of Theatrical Art. His presence serves to promote attendance.
2. Israeli Documentary Club – participants view and discuss documentary films from and about Israel.
3. Israeli Music Fan Club – participants listen to music with those who like Mizrahi and other Mediterranean music.
4. The project’s site and social media
The site and group are in the most popular social network in Russia: “Vkontakte”.
It has been created to involve and keep young Jews socially connected. On this site there is interesting and non-traditional information about Israel, news about Israeli science, culture, high-tech achievements, medicine and other aspects of Israeli society. We regularly add photos and videos about Israel.
We are currently working on the following projects:
1. “A Zionist history of Saint-Petersburg”.
The goal is to have participants tour “Zionist Petersburg” and learn about Herzel, Montefiore, and a cadre of other Zionist thinkers and organizations. It is the first such project anywhere in the former USSR.
2. A new pro-Israel book in which local celebrities of the Jewish origin tell their thoughts about Israel – with each celebrity focusing on the area of Israeli life in which he/she knows most. This book will pique the interest of both the Jewish and non-Jewish public.
3. Exhibition – display photos of Israel. We’ve already reached a preliminary arrangement with several photographers from Israel, Russia and Germany.