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News: World

An Israeli war volunteer remembers

For him and his friends, service was the most important act of their lives

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LOS ANGELES — In May 1948, I was walking down Market Street in San Francisco when I passed a small movie theater with a marquee that announced “The Jews Fight for Their State.”

For the first time, it fully hit me that the Jews — by the gentile consensus of the time, mainly cowards and draft dodgers —actually were taking on five vastly superior armies.

I took the train back to Berkeley but had a hard time focusing on my studies at the University of California. With the school year nearing its end, I decided to go join the fight.

I was among some 4,000 volunteers from 57 countries who volunteered during Israel’s War of Independence, a group collectively known as Machal, the Hebrew acronym for volunteers from abroad. Some of their stories are told in two recent films focusing on the wartime contributions of the airmen who, to a large extent, gave birth to the Israeli Air Force.

 
 

How do you say Limmud in Armenian?

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MOSCOW — As soon as she entered the lobby of the Vinogradovo Holiday Inn in Moscow on May 22, Tatiana Pashaeva was sure that she was in her element.

A project manager for Limmud FSU, a nonprofit that organizes Jewish learning events across the former Soviet Union, Pashaeva is used to engaging with large numbers of conference participants, who are struggling to conduct conversations over the noise of their scampering children.

As at every Limmud event, Pashaeva was met with a range of choices presented by a multitrack program whose trademark diversity and high intellectual caliber have helped spread the Limmud format to Jewish communities from Melbourne to Malmo.

But Pashaeva was not at a Limmud conference. She was at Lsaran, a Limmud-inspired spinoff aimed at Moscow’s community of ethnic Armenians. Limmud officials say the Lsaran is the first adaptation of their formula by a non-Jewish community outside of Britain, where Limmud started more than 30 years ago.

 
 
 
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