From Russia with love – St. Petersburg Mission

October 26, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Posted in St. Petersburg | Leave a comment

A guest post by Neil Waxman

Arrival:Thursday & Friday

Wanting to give the less experienced St. Petersburg travelers some cushion to adjust, rather than jump right into touring of programs and facilities, we took a day of touring, some of which was driven by wanting to tour Peterhof, Peter the Great’s summer palace surrounded by gardens and an unimaginable number of fountains of every size and style – all powered by gravity – before it closed for the season on Sunday. This was intended to be Versailles “on steroids”, and that is exactly what it is.


This was followed by a trip to Catherine’s Palace, which is clearly part of the trifecta of highlights on anyone’s tour of St. Petersburg. The sheer size of these buildings is practically inconceivable.

I never cease to be amazed at the magnificent beauty of St. Petersburg only to be outdone by the awe inspiring members of this Jewish Community with whom we have spent time since touch down on Thursday PM: those who are recipients of services, which we support, those who help support those programs, and the professionals who do the heavy lifting at these organizations. Continue Reading From Russia with love – St. Petersburg Mission…


St. Petersburg, Russia – Our Work Began in 1998

September 10, 2012 at 3:48 pm | Posted in St. Petersburg | Leave a comment

Guest post by Neil Waxman

JCF’s work began during the worst economic conditions facing Russia since WWII: the ruble crashed, the stock market fell 75%, and the government defaulted on its debt. We began by helping those who could not help themselves: elderly, who were immobile, living in Stalinesk 5th floor walk apartments, with little food and even less medical attention; an under supply of Jewish kindergartens, and childcare, and where it existed, conditions were less than substandard. Our goals were to focus most of our resources and attention in a barbell sort of approach on those two cohort groups; however, to ultimately work toward the middle: teens, young adults, families, and the like. Some of those children, who attended our kindergartens, are now our camp counselors, and some of those teens who were active in Hillel are now working in the Jewish organizations, which we have helped to establish.Image

Roll forward to September 9th 2005:  after 7 years of very heavy lifting by the American Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), other international Jewish foundations and organizations, in conjunction with the Jewish Federation of Cleveland (JFC), it’s staff and lay leaders, and our partners in the St. Petersburg Jewish Community, the ribbon was cut on the YESOD Continue Reading St. Petersburg, Russia – Our Work Began in 1998…

JFC Mission to St. Petersburg, Russia October 10 – 17th – Back Story to Cleveland’s Engagement

August 27, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Posted in St. Petersburg, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Guest post by Neil Waxman

Until the late 1700’s, Russia generally prohibited Jews from living within its boundaries, but suddenly found itself the “beneficiary” of over 1,000,000 Jews upon the annexation of Poland. From that period until recent times, Russian policy toward its Jews has vacillated between assimilation, discrimination, and isolation, compounded by 4 years of Nazi assault on the Pale of Settlement, bringing desecration and mass execution.

St.Petersburg, Synagogue-School-photography by Zbigniew Kosc©1992

With the deterioration of Communism in the late 80’s, the world got its first real glimpse of the remnants of Judaism in the Former Soviet Union (FSU): what we found when the curtain lifted was over 2,000,000 Jews.  Ironically the Russian government’s obsession with keeping census data for all citizens of Jewish decent turned out to be a blessing, Continue Reading JFC Mission to St. Petersburg, Russia October 10 – 17th – Back Story to Cleveland’s Engagement…

To Saint Petersburg… with Love!

August 27, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Posted in St. Petersburg | Leave a comment

Guest post by Neil Waxman

Catherine Palace in Pushkin Near St. Petersburg, RussiaBe a Witness to History: join me for the Jewish Federation of Cleveland (JFC) Mission to St Petersburg, Russia October 10 – 17th.  Rising from the ashes of over 200 years of Czarist and Communist religious oppression including the 900 day Siege of Leningrad by the Nazi’s, St. Petersburg has experienced an unparalleled, modern day renewal of Jewish life, with the support and guidance of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland. Continue Reading To Saint Petersburg… with Love!…

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