World Forum for Jewry, but to do what?

By Heather Jacobsohn, February 9, 2012

When Alexander Levin, Ukrainian businessman and President of the Kiev Jewish community, announced the creation of the World Forum of Russian Jewry at the UN last month, nobody - including himself - appeared to know exactly what it was for.

In a vague statement, Mr Levin said: "Our goal is to bring together Russian-speaking Jews from around the world in order to save ourselves and other people from the next catastrophe and genocide, to preserve world peace and protect the state of Israel."

Igor Branovan, a World Forum board member and president of its US branch, was able to be more specific last week. He said the body would seek to provide Jewish education for Russian-speaking Jews, who "through not having very deep Jewish roots by virtue of growing up in the Soviet Union, have a much higher risk of disintegrating" into their larger societies. "Our primary goal," he said, "is to maintain the Russian Jews within the Jewish communities".

Mr Branovan denied that the new forum was an oligarch's vanity project: "I understand the natural skepticism, that's very appropriate, we will just have to prove ourselves with our actions."

Last updated: 12:47pm, February 9 2012