Inaugural Moscow Jewish Children's Book Festival Draws Enthusiastic Crowd

As we hit mid summer, our JCC is busy gearing up for our own Cultural Arts and Book Festival this October. But we love this story from our partners at the Joint Distribution Committee about the first Moscow Jewish Book Festival! A portion of the Federation's Annual Campaign goes oversees through the JDC to help fund programming and services for Jews all over the world!

Thirteen of the best Moscow publishing houses came together late last month to celebrate International Children's Day with a children's book festival organized by JDC, the JDC-sponsored House of Jewish Books, the Ralph I. Goldman Nikitskaya JCC, and the New Wing of Gogol House.

The Moscow Department of Culture also helped support the celebration.

The publishing houses, both Jewish and non-Jewish, put together master classes, lectures, and workshops for attendees.

Much of the program was prepared by the JCC's Tapuz kindergarten. Among the activities were: a master class on model ships; a lecture on ancient Talmudic seafarers; a workshop on stained glass windows based on Marc Chagall paintings; and a play for children 4 and up by the JCC's "Gruffalo" theater.

Adults could attend a lecture on Jewish children's poet Vadim Levin.

Ralph I. Goldman Nikitskaya JCC's newly appointed director Galina Murakhovskaya said the festival is part of a holistic approach to parenting her staff takes.

“I was happy to see children and their parents who came to the festival participating so actively and with much enthusiasm," she said. "We've seen that families now try to spend more time together and our center gives possibilities for the development of both children and their parents."

The festival attracted more than 1,000 attendees.

"It became not just a place to find new books and participate in new activities, but also a place for families within the Jewish community to meet, talk with each other, and make new friends," Murakhovskaya said. "The mixture of Jews and non-Jews created a special, friendly, multicultural, and tolerant atmosphere, where guests could find out something new about Jewish poets, artists and culture."

Gogol House organized a costume excursion for children around their museum, showing the place where the famous Russian writer lived and created his stories.

“As the city library, we were happy to join this JDC project," said Vera Vikulova, the museum's director. "The Jewish culture is very rich and has much to share with people outside the Jewish community."

Ekaterina Jouravleva, who organized the festival, said the event was a rousing success -- and one JDC plans to make an annual tradition.

“During the preparation for the festival, we worried a little bit if the strong Jewish content of the festival would be interesting for a non-Jewish audience," she said. "But we were really amazed when we saw the reaction from non-Jewish visitors. Both Jewish and non-Jewish children listened to the story from Talmud with their mouths opened, non-Jewish parents showed great interest in the Jewish components and activities. The festival was a great possibility to acquaint Moscow citizens with the Jewish people's rich and interesting culture."

Our partnership through the JDC helps campaign dollars from Dayton, Ohio, reach Jewish communities across the globe, continuing our mission of Tikkun Olam. Help us continue to make a difference in people's lives by pledging to the Annual Campaign. Contact Alisa Thomas at athomas@jfgd.net or 610-1796 today.

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