Winter Schools

Moscow Winter School on Jewish Studies "Judaic Mosaic" (February 1-5, 2020 109 participants)

Moscow Winter School on Jewish Studies "Israel from ancient times to the present: conflicts and compromises" (January, 27th - February, 1rst, 2019, 100 participants)

Moscow Winter School on Jewish Studies "Phenomenon of Soviet Jews: from Ethnicity to Identity" (January, 29th - February, 3rd, 2018, 108 participants) 

Moscow Winter School on Jewish Studies "Permanent Revolution: Jews and Radical Society" (January, 31st - February, 5th, 2017, 100 participants) 

Winter school on Jewish studies (2nd - 6th of February, 2016, Moscow, 90 participants)


Winter School on Jewish Studies 2015

Winter School on Jewish Studies took place on 3d – 6th of February, 2015 in“Golitsyno”

The school was organized by Sefer Center and Chais Center for Jewish Studies in Russian (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) and with financial support by Genesis Philanthropy Group, in partnership with Israel Cultural Center in Moscow and with Polish Cultural Center in Moscow.

60 students and young researchers from Belorussia, Russia, Ukraine, Latvia, Germany and Czech Republic took part in the school  as well as 10 lecturers from Israel (Hebrew University of Jerusalem), Latvia (Museum “Jews in Latvia”, Riga), Poland (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan) and Russia (Moscow State University, RSUH). This year there were also young lecturers who in the past repeatedly took part in the educational programs of “Sefer” Center (schools on Jewish Studies, Eshnav).

The key theme of the School for the “borderland” ­– as not only a geographical and national phenomenon but also as cultural, language, political and historical one, the theme of the inner and outer borders is one of the central themes in the history if Jewish nation, the big part of which lived and lives today in the diaspora. This subject has a potential for different possibilities - as dialogue, collaboration, interference and conflict.

Winter School on Jewish Studies 2014

Winter School on Jewish Studies organized by Sefer Center took place on 5th – 9th of February, 2014 in “Dobroe”. The school was organized in partnership with Chais Center for Jewish Studies in Russian (Hebrew University of Jerusalem). Winter School on Jewish Studies was held with financial support by Avi Chai Foundation, Genesis Philanthropy Group and Israel Cultural Center in Moscow.


55 students from Russia (Moscow, Saint-Petersburg, Kazan, Nizhnekamsk, Nizhniy Novgorod, Perm, Irkutsk, Severodvinsk), Ukraine (Kiev, Dnepropetrovsk, Kharkiv, Odessa, Vorzel, Zolotonosha, Lugansk, Nezhin, Shepetovka), Belarus (Minck, Grodno, Novopolotsk), Latvia (Riga), Poland (Warsaw) and Czech Republic (Prague) participated in the School. 

The lecturers were from Russia, Ukraine and Israel.

The courses were divided into 4 groups:

- classical Jewish texts and their interpretation (Mikhail Seleznyov “Jewish Bible and Its Greek Re-Interpretation”, Alexey Lyavdansky “The Prophecy As Poetical Competition” and Reuven Kipervasser “Meeting with the Angel of Death – Narrative Topos in Talmudic Literature As the Way to Impression the Talmudic Culture”);

- history of Jews in Eastern Europe (Semion Goldin “The Jews of Russia and WWI”, Dmitry Feldman “The Jews of Russian Empire in Napoleon’s Wars”, Vladimir Lyubchenko “Jews-Farmers in Eastern Europe (1780–1930)”);

- Jews on the cultural crossroads (Victor Shnirelman “Religion and Antisemitism”, Semion Parizhsky “Warrior, Wiseman, Lover: the Ideal of Masculinity in Medieval Hebrew Poetry”, Galina Zelenina “Love and Hatred under the Tribunal: Gender and Communal Relations in Marranos Community”);

- Modern Israel (Zeev Khanin “Religion, Power and Community in Israel in the Beginning of 21st Century”, Eugeny Tartakovsky “Global Migration Processes and Immigration Politics in Israel”, Stanislav Kozheurov “The Problem of Representative Democracy on the Border of the Centuries: Israel in Comparative Perspective”). 


Dr. Zeev Khanin gave the plenary lecture “The Island of Israel: between Syrian Conflict, Iran Threat and Egypt Revolution”.

The program included 2 beit-midrash: literary (Alina Polonskaya “What We Don’t Like in Them?”) and Talmudic-philosophical (Reuven Kipervasser and Sergey Stepanishchev “The Dialectics of Vision and Its Absence”). There was also the round table dedicated to the theme of Jews’ participating in Ukranian revolution. The entertainment part included 3 movie-views with the discussion leaded by Sergey Stepanishchev and Katerina Pits.

As 2014 is the year of Sefer’s 20th anniversary there was an evening dedicated to this events where students, lecturers and organizers shared their memories and experience connected with Sefer Center.

The full program (in Russian) is available here.

Photo Album is here

Winter School on Jewish Studies 2013

Winter School on Jewish studies took place in Moscow Educational Center of “Golitsyno” on January 30 - February 3, 2013. As usually it took form of mini-university and for many years has been organized by the Center "Sefer" in collaboration with the Chais Center (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem) during the winter student holidays. School was supported by Avi-Chai Foundation, Genesis Philanthropy Group and the Israeli Cultural Centre of the Embassy of Israel in Moscow.

This year 75 students, graduates and young scientists from different regions of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Latvia and Poland participated in this winter educational event.

The main and traditional school part were lectures given by the leading experts in the various fields of Jewish Studies from the CIS and Israel. Each course consisted of three lectures and was a constitute of the four thematic blocks: 1) Biblical Tradition and Jewish Thought: Leonid Dreyer ; Uri Gershovich, Ilya Dvorkin, 2) History of the Jews of Eastern Europe: Alexander Lokshin, Michael Kizilov, Simon Goldin, and 3) Jewish Literature: Leonid Katsis , Michael Weisskopf , Valery Dymshits, 4) Modern Israel: Mark Levin, Michael Pellivert , Yossi Tavor. Chief scientist of the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption (Israel) Zeev Khanin gave plenary lecture “The new regional political landscape after the election of Barack Obama and recurrence by PNA to UN”

Besides the traditional lectures format the school program included meetings that created the atmosphere for open dialogue and discussion with the participation of lecturers and students. Two such roundtables were held “Jews and Russian culture: problems of understanding” and “Ethnicity, Class, and the civic culture of Israeli society on the agenda of the Knesset elections of the 19th convocation”, and Beit Midrash moderated by I. Dvorkin “The role of the world's people in the Sinai revelation”.

The school cultural program included a series of evening film screenings. Y.Tavor presented exclusive movies about the Israeli theater (“Eternal rehearsal. Video diary”, 1994-2004. Dir. G.Frank; “STONES” Play about the Holocaust ). On the initiative of I.Kopchenova film "Footnote" (2011) was shown, followed by a long discussion.

Taking into account the demands in the previous schools questionnaires for the first time we organized the first acquaintance evening in a new format. Instead of the traditional “What-Where-When?” game E.Miheykina gave a seminar on Networking where participants were asked to empirically test the "six handshakes" theory and quickly find new colleagues will similar research interests.

At the closing of the teachers and some participants shared their positive impressions, in the conclusion a short ten-minute film about the Sefer Center was shown.

See the Photoalbum

Winter School on Jewish Studies 2012

We are proud to report on Winter School on Jewish Studies which was took place on January 31 - February 3, 2012 at the Educational Center "Dobroe" in the Moscow region. 14 lecturers from Israel and Russia came to “Dobroe” to deliver their mini-courses within the framework of the School and over 80 students, graduates and young researchers from Belarus, Latvia, Poland, Russia, Serbia and Ukraine became participants.

The academic program of the School on Jewish studies was designed and implemented by the joint effort of Moscow Center for University Teaching of Jewish Civilization Sefer and Chais Center on the development of Jewish Studies in Russian at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The financial support was provided by Avi Chai Foundation, Genesis Philanthropy Group (as part of the charity program Charities Aid Foundation “Jewish communities”), Israeli Cultural Center in Moscow.

The lecture program of the School was divided into four thematical sessions:
• “The Holocaust: History and Historical Memory” (courses: Sergey Stepanishev “Mind and Faith after the Holocaust”, Cyril Aslanov “The Languages Eliminated in the Holocaust: Yiddish, Judeo-Spanish, etc”, Arkadi Zeltser “The View of Soviet Jewish intellectuals on the fate of Jews during World War II”). This session was confined to International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which is commemorate annually on January 27.
• “Prolegomena to Hasidism” (courses: Ilya Dvorkin “The Formation of the Philosophical Language of Jewish Thought: From the Middle Ages to Modern Times”, Uri Gershovich “Commentary and Interpretive Approaches to Scripture in Jewish Medieval Culture”, Michael Schneider “From Kabbalah to Hasidism”). The lectures of this session are an introduction to the seminar on the Study of Hasidism in the places of its appearance and distribution (Medzhibozh Summer School in 2012).
• “The Jewish communities: Sephardim” (courses: Simon Parizhsky “Works of Yehuda al-Harizi (Spain, XII century. – Syria, XIII century) as the crossroads of cultures”, Maxim Gammal “Traditional Jewish community: Unity in Diversity”, Galina Zelenina “Sephardim and Authority”). Both universities and informal education centers give little attention to Sephardic topics. We tried to fill this gap.
• “Israel: cultural dialogue - dialogue within cultures” (courses: Alexander Lvov “Russian Judaizers in the History of the State of Israel” Michael Pellivert “Globalization, Multiculturalism, post-Zionism: Challenges of the XXI century”, Zeev Khanin “Contemporary Israeli Diaspora: Public Dispute and Social and Cultural Portrait”).

The School program, just as usual, was not limited to lectures only. The School participants had an opportunity to take part in the Beit Midrash “The Talmud, Ideology, Representation: Hermeneutics of the Text and/or the Metaphysics of Values" (Uri Gershovich, Ilya Dvorkin, Sergey Stepanishev, Grirory Zeltser).
As one of the most remarkable events of the school we should mention the Round Table, which was held on February 2 on on topic of high relevance for the present situation in the world in general and Russia in particular “The Participation of Jews of the Diaspora in the Politics of the Countries of Residence: Past and Present". The table was chaired by Victoria Mochalova, Simon Parizhsky and Galina Zelenina. The audio and textual record of the discussion is available at Booknik website (, the video version will soon appear at our website (

The School entertainment program comprised the demonstration of the movie “Secrets” (directed by Avi Nesher, Israel, France, 2007).
The Participants watched and discussed the broad topic of "Jewish subject in the non-Jewish movie" as exemplified by “We must help each other” (directed by Ian Grzhebeyk, Czech Republic, 2000), with the brilliant simultaneous translation by Victoria Mochalova.
As is customary participants received as gifts the latest editions of Sefer Center and partner organizations.

Winter School on Jewish Studies 2011

2011 Sefer Winter School on Jewish Studies was held in the Moscow Region recreation center "Pushkino" from January 27 to 31, 2011. These schools (mini-universities) are held annually in the student's winter vacation. Traditionally the Schools on Jewish Studies are organized in close cooperation with the Chais Center for Jewish Studies in Russian (Hebrew University of Jerusalem).

Several lecturers have represented this institutions: professors Cyril Aslanov (course "Linguistic otherness of the Jews throughout the ages") and Shaul Stampfer (plenary lecture "The Geographical Background of Ashkenazi Jewry"), Semyon Goldin, Ilya Lurie, as well as representatives of others Israeli educational institutions: Ilya Dvorkin, Uri Gershovich, Arkady Zeltser. In general, the Israeli scholarly and educational institutions were represented widely as never before: Arkadi Zeltser, director of the Centerfor the Study of Soviet Jews at the Holocaust Memorial Institute Yad Vashem, presented the course with aspects of the history of Soviet Jews in the interwar period and their fates during the Shoah, Uri Gershovich, professor at the Open University of Israel was not only giving his own lectures, but also organized a Beit Midrash conducted in the form of an intellectual play. He also informed the school participants about the possibility of entering the program at the Open University of Israel, for those Russian students who already have bachelor's degrees or higher. Lecture courses at the school were also presented by Russian scholars -Leonid Kogan, Eugene Smagina, Konstantin Burmistrov, Mikhail Seleznev, as well as the representative of the Kiev-Mohyla Academy, Ukraine, Igor Turov.

Support for the School was also provided by the Israeli Cultural Center in Moscow, the Center Director Mirit Wachs and First Secretary of Israeli Embassy in Moscow Shlomo Voskoboinik took part in the school opening. The School opened on January 27, 2011 - a symbolic date, as it is the day declared by the U.N. as International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and the Shoah history is a must in the Sefer schools' curriculum. In this regard, it is remarkable to quote Professor Victor Schnirelman (RAS), an expert on racism and anti-Semitism and one of Sefer School's lecturers, who emphasized that while studying and teaching history in Russia one cannot avoid the processes of anti-Semitism, racism and nationalism. According to him, while studying, for example, the history of the Holocaust we must remember that today the causes that gave rise to these tragic events have not disappeared, they exist and in fact, evolving. "One cannot study society without studying its prejudices and biases. Aren't we seeing today manifestations of racism, neo-Nazism, anti-Semitism?

These things are visible, they evolve and mutate. Today, for example, there is absolutely no racism as it existed in the first half of 20th century. One cannot understand our modern society without realizing that these things still prevail, and they are not paid enough attention to. This is quite clear, especially after the December 2010 events at the Manege Square in Moscow. And we need to know these things, and that's why I've decided to read the course at the Sefer Winter School.

Sefer Center Director Victoria Mochalova announced XVIII International Conference on Jewish Studies (planned on February 1-3, 2011), and announced new titles prepared by the Sefer and its partners to be presented at the Conference. She noted that this year the Memory Book dedicated to Rashid Kaplanov, one of the prominent Russian scholars in the field of Jewish Studies (and one of the Sefer founders) will be published. Irina Kopchenova, Sefer coordinator of educational programs informed the participants about the development of the "Lecture Bureau" project (visiting lecture on the requests from regional universities, educational institutions and communities of Russia and former USSR), as well as about new program called "Small Projects" which is to support initiatives groups and individuals in their activities aimed to development of community life in the academic and educational format. Dr. Alexander Lvov (European University of St. Petersburg) acquainted students with a course of lectures on research marginalized Jewish communities (crypto-Jews, Judaisers, "lost Jews"). He also informed about a possibility of one-year studying at the Center "Petersburg Judaica" for those who already have BA degree or higher.

The information on previous Winter schools on Jewish studies may be found on the
Russian section of our website

For more information contact Sefer PR-coordinator

Malakhov Philipp:, +7916 8126104