In St. Petersburg, Russia, where Jewish life was nearly wiped out, the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County has been nurturing a resurgence of Jewish identity, caring for vulnerable people and developing the next generation of passionate community leaders.

Next week, a small delegation of Jewish communal professionals from St. Petersburg will visit Palm Beach County. They will work together with local lay and professional leaders to explore opportunities for revitalizing the connection between the Palm Beach and St. Petersburg communities and to continue strengthening Jewish life and a Jewish future in the former Soviet Union.

What Does This Mean for our Partnership and the Federation?

As part of our partnership with St Petersburg, our community has supported Jewish identity-building and capacity-building initiatives through our partnership with the Jewish Agency. These include outreach and engagement for youth and families, teen leadership development, early childhood education, and camps and schools for children with disabilities, which are rare in Eastern Europe and Russia. In partnership with the Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), we help provide emergency assistance for Holocaust survivors and frail elderly in need of food, medicine and winter supplies, and we also support young professional leadership programs and Hillel on Russian college campuses.

A cornerstone of the Jewish community in St. Petersberg is Yesod, which means home. Like a JCC, Yesod offers various cultural, educational, social service and community programs that strengthen Jewish identity and enrich Jewish life. Another source of pride in the effort are youth camps which are vital to the renaissance of Jewish life in the former Soviet Union. Jewish children and teens are connecting, in some cases for the first time, with their Jewish roots through experiences that reinforce Jewish traditions and values. By reconnecting Russian Jews who were cut off from Jewish tradition through high-quality Jewish family retreats and summer camps, Federation plays a key role in improving the lives of more than 100,000 Jews living in St. Petersburg.