Participants from Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Russia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan come together in Israel for a landmark educational event.

Around 800 Birthright Israel participants from Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Russia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan took part in an educational event, which brought together Birthright groups from the former Soviet Union (FSU) currently in Israel.

For most attendees, the trip marked their first visit to Israel, which was also their first opportunity to discover Israeli culture and history firsthand and bring the experience back home to their communities. Participants who attended the events in Israel’s north enjoyed a full day of activities, including a street-food festival, Zumba classes, volleyball and matkot (paddleball) on the beach, and a colourful evening event.

The concluding event was held at Shuni amphitheatre in Binyamina, Birthright Israel International chief executive Gidi Mark said: “We are proud that 800 Russian-speaking Birthright Israel participants from the former Soviet Union have come together for this momentous event. For many, it will bring about the understanding that they are part of a global community of Jews, connected by a shared history.

“It is of vital importance to our collective future that young Jewish adults from the diaspora will have a strong sense of Jewish identity and feel connected to both their local Jewish communities and Israel.”

The event was jointly supported by Birthright Israel, the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress and Genesis Philanthropy Group (GPG).

Ilia Salita, president and chief executive of GPG, said: “Participation of Russian-speaking Jews in Birthright Israel has crucial importance for the development of Jewish identity and desire to take part in the Jewish life in their communities.

“GPG is proud to continue our long-standing partnership with Birthright Israel in order to connect new generations of Russian-speaking Jews with the Jewish people and the land of Israel.”