Groundbreaking Jewish Studies Program in Russia Graduates Fourteen

Project Judaica Is the Joint Program of the Russian State University for the Humanities and The Jewish Theological Seminary

Press Contact: Nina Jacobson
Office: (212) 678-8950

June 10, 2009, Moscow, Russia

Project Judaica, the groundbreaking joint program of The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) in the United States and the Russian State University for the Humanities (RSUH) in Moscow, will graduate six students from its five-year BA/MA program on Monday, June 22. The ceremony will take place at 4:00 p.m. at RSUH's main building, located at 15 Chayanova Street, Moscow.

An additional eight students are completing the one-year program, which trains Russian Jewish lay leaders in Jewish studies and Jewish communal affairs. The fourteen graduates bring the total number of Project Judaica graduates to more than 100 over the program's eighteen-year history.

Project Judaica was created in 1991 to help reverse the exclusion and suppression of Jewish studies in higher education in the former Soviet Union (FSU). Its principal goals are to train a generation of indigenous Russian scholars of Judaica, reestablish Jewish studies as a legitimate area of university study, foster the revival of Jewish life in Russia, and discover and describe all Jewish-related materials held in the archives of the FSU. The project is directed by Dr. David Fishman, professor of Jewish history at JTS, and Professor Natalya Basovskaya, vice rector, RSUH, and a well-known historian and popular radio personality who conducts a radio program on world history on the Echo of Moscow radio station. Nineteen JTS professors have taught in Project Judaica since its inception.

The first academic program in Jewish studies in Russia in sixty years, Project Judaica maintains an active publications program of textbooks, monographs, a journal, and the Jewish Archival Survey.

Students graduating from the BA/MA program include: Elena Grushevskaya, Dina Terletskaya, Aliya Urmanova, and Maria Voropaeva, all of Moscow; Victoria Gerasimova, Smolensk; and Elena Solopova, Obminsk, Kaluzh Oblast.

Two of the graduates, Dina Terletskaia and Victoria Gerasimova, are planning to pursue doctoral degrees in Jewish Studies at RSUH. Two others will be assuming positions in Jewish communal life: Victoria Grushevskaya as director of informal youth education for the Moscow Choral Synagogue, and Elena Solopova as creative director for the Mikhoels Jewish Culture Center in Moscow. They join numerous alumni who have gone on to play key roles in the revival of Jewish life in Russia since the fall of the USSR as educators, journalists, professors, and directors of Jewish institutions.

Information about the graduation ceremony and Project Judaica is available by contacting the RSUH Center for Biblical and Jewish Studies in Moscow at 7-495-250-6470 or Dr. Fishman in New York City at (212) 678-8001.