In just six years, Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli has helped transform the lives and promote the personal and professional success of thousands of talented young Russian-speaking olim, to Israel’s tremendous benefit.
Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli (Israeli Weekend), founded in the Fall of 2010, is a vibrant, nationwide educational initiative for Russian-speaking Israelis aged 18-35, which aims to strengthen Jewish and Israeli identity, bolster Jewish unity, foster personal and intellectual growth and develop talented young leadership for Israeli society and the Jewish People.
We are a warm and supportive community of over 6500 young Russian-speaking soldiers, students and young professionals - most of whom moved to Israel without family. Our Friday-Shabbat retreats, excursions, study evenings, cultural events, volunteer, holiday and olim empowerment activities are helping young Israeli immigrants thrive personally and professionally in their new home, in an atmosphere of community, pluralism, Jewish literacy and Jewish Peoplehood.
Russian-speaking immigrants who came to Israel as teenagers or young adults over the past fifteen years – and continue to arrive en masse - are among the nation's most precious assets, yet alienation from Israeli culture and a very limited support network are reducing the impact of these talented and motivated young people on Israeli society and creating a disproportionately high rate of emigration among this population group.
The founders of Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli – Russian and Hebrew-speaking educators, academics and community professionals - recognize that many Russian-speaking young people in Israel were active in their Jewish communities in the FSU, but after making aliyah, feel estranged from mainstream Israeli culture – "there I was Jewish; here I am Russian."
Our educational, social and volunteer activities are empowering them to continue their activism in their new homeland, strengthening their sense of belonging and their chances for personal and professional success.
Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli etc developed active branches with Area Coordinators in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Haifa, in addition to our national programs.
a) Friday- Shabbat Retreats - 8 per academic year.In December 2010, we gathered our first 35 participants for a pilot Friday-Shabbat seminar in December 2010. Since then our seminars have long waiting lists, as we try to keep these weekend events family-like and intimate. Fifty-five participants spend Friday touring and hiking with a professional Russian-speaking guide, in sites of historical and contemporary relevance. Shabbat activities include coaching and group dynamics, discussions on contemporary Jewish topics, traditional Shabbat meals, participant led workshops, and lectures by the Scholar in Residence.
b) Excursions and hikes – 2-4 per month. Walking tours, bus excursions and hikes to historical landmarks, nature preserves and agricultural and technological initiatives throughout the country, with Russian-speaking guides.
c) Argaman Israeli Cultural Project - 2 per month. Participation in concerts, museum tours, performances etc. to help expose new olim to Israeli dance, theatre, architecture, film, music and fine arts, and the trends that helped build Israeli society, accompanied by artist and cultural experts.
d) Professional mentoring and Business Hebrew - 4 evenings per month. Business Hebrew and Hebrew Through Literature courses help make olim competitive in the Israeli workforce. Professional mentoring with olim lawyers and professionals in a variety of fields provide guidance and networking for new olim.
e) Enrichment, Study and Holiday events – 2-3 per month. Meetings with famous personalities (Face to Face with Jewish History) and study of Jewish sources on contemporary themes create inspiring forums for personal and professional growth. Large holiday events bring together 200- 300 olim from around Israel to celebrate Tu B'Shvat, Chanuka, Purim, Yom HaAtzmaut etc with their new Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli "family."
f) Volunteerism –Work with WII veterans, lone soldiers, children at risk, and holiday celebrations incorporating volunteer activity strengthen their sense of giving back to Israeli society.
f) Facebook group – Members share regularly with one another on Facebook, introducing new friends to the project, sharing info and ideas, helping one another find apartments, jobs etc., and posting photos from our events. https://www.facebook.com/shishishabat
g) Interaction with Russian-speaking peers from Diaspora – Joint events with Russian-speaking Taglit and Masa groups and visiting delegations of young leaders from other countries foster important dialogue with the Jewish Diaspora and a strong sense of global Jewish Peoplehood.
h) Home Hospitality on Shabbat and chagim - we help arrange home hospitality for members who are interested, and provide information on community tefillot and holiday activities throughout Israel.