Three decades is not much time in the context of Jewish history. Yet during the three short decades of FREE's existence, a heroic effort of epic proportions has taken place to revitalize what the Communists destroyed.
from a rented room and a handful of dedicated volunteers,
FREE has grown quickly, and continues to grow, in order to
handle the increasing influx of Russian Jews coming to America.
Over the years, continually adopting one project after another,
FREE services have expanded to help all aspects of the lives
of the Russian Jews.
• The FREE Social & Humanitarian Services Division was established,
sending volunteers to visit refugees and assess their material needs. Volunteers assisted refugees in finding apartments, arranging English classes, obtaining employment, and providing them with basic necessities such as furniture and clothing.
• The Adult Education Division, also formed at this time, provides regular classes in basic Judaism for refugees.
• FREE established the first Jewish-Russian High School in the United States on 711 Eastern Parkway, across the street from the Lubavitch World Headquarters. Over 2500 students have been enrolled in FREE High School to date.
• FREE initiated its Holiday
Awareness Campaign to arrange large celebrations for Jewish
holidays. It provides transportation for refugees all around
the New York Metropolitan area. These gatherings were first
held at the grand ballroom auditorium of the Crown Heights Yeshiva
on Crown Street (presently the Beis Rivkah Girls High School).
• FREE established the worlds first Modern Jewish Publishing
House, to accommodate Russian speakers with Russian-language
Jewish books. Over forty publications on all different aspects
of Judaism have been published to date.
• Camp FREE - Gan Israel was established to provide a safe, fun environment for children from immigrant families to enjoy their summer in an around the clock Jewish atmosphere. To date, over eleven thousand children have spent their summers at Camp FREE.
• Circumcisions, forbidden in the Soviet Union, were performed for both child and adult refugees. Arrangements were made with the local hospitals to carry out these procedures. Over 13,200 circumcisions have been performed to date.
• FREE Adult Education Division established a Russian
Jewish library to assist the Russian speaking crowd explore
the depth of their rich heritage.
• FREE Social
& Huamnitarian Services Division established the Kosher
Food Campaign. Two sets of vessels, for meat and for dairy,
were provided for all newly arrived refugees. Furthermore,
with the help of major kosher abattoirs, FREE distributed
kosher chicken to refugees on a weekly basis from different
pick up locations.
• FREE founded its branch in Chicago, Illinois - FREE
of Chicago – to assist the newly arrived immigrants
in the region.
• FREE held its first
gala Bar Mitzvah Ceremony at Camp
FREE - Gan Israel, located in Parksvill, New York.
• FREE relocated
its HQ offices to 1383 President Street.
• FREE established the first Russian Jewish Elementary School in the United States, located on the new President Street premises. To date, over 4500 students have been enrolled.
• FREE Social & Humanitarian Services Division expanded its activities in distribution of used clothing and furniture. A warehouse on the Lower East Side of Manhattan was obtained to help distribute these items. To date, over 5,000 families have taken advantage of the clearinghouse to help clothe their children and furnish their new surroundings.
• FREE founded its branch in Baltimore, Maryland –
FREE of Baltimore.
• Renowned tenor Jan Peerce, FREE’s distinguished
late president, held his first
FREE benefit concert at the Alice Tully Hall of New York.
• August 15, 1976, FREE held its First
Gala Pidyon Haben Ceremony at Camp
FREE - Gan Israel, Parksville, New York.
• FREE Adult Education Division sent
its first mobile home, carrying four
FREE Rabbis, on a cross-country, 20,000-mile trip. They visited newly arrived
Russian immigrants in sixty-three major cities.
• FREE founded its branch in Detroit, Michigan –
FREE of Michigan.
• FREE launched a special fund to create new grades
for children from age five to eight, as well as additional
classes for older children. This was prompted by the Lubavitcher
Rebbe’s call for the expansion of FREE’s school
in the memory of Rabbi Dovid Okunov,
o.b.m., who had been tragically murdered that same year.
• FREE founded its branch in Melbourne, Australia –
FREE of Melbourne.
• The FREE Youth Club
was founded for public school youth. Various exciting programs
were launched to provide them with an interest and attraction
to Jewish education. To date, over eight hundred teenagers
have been active members of the Youth Club.
• FREE Holiday Awareness
Campaign received government permits to organize its first
public Sukkot celebration. This took place on the famed Brooklyn
Brighton Beach boardwalk.
• July 1, 1982, FREE
Circumcision Program reached a record of performing
• FREE Anti-Missionary
Campaign was founded to alert Russian parents to the grave
danger of their children being lured by Christian Missionaries
to attend missionary schools, summer camps, and after school
• FREE opened a summer
day camp in Brooklyn, located at 841 Ocean Parkway. This
allowed a summer place for boys who were unable to attend
the FREE overnight camp.
• FREE established Project Chomesh. This is a Sunday
school that provides Jewish education to young Russian girls.
Chomesh is an acronym for Rebbetzin
Chaya Mushka Schneerson, as that was the year of the
• FREE founded its branch in the Brighton Beach section
of Brooklyn, New York – FREE
of Brighton Beach.
• FREE held its First National Conference of Religious Jews from the Former USSR.
• FREE Adult Education
Division and FREE
Social & Humanitarian Services Division launched a
new project – an accredited English Academy. Its purpose
was to facilitate the absorption of new arrival of immigrants
after the fall of Communism. English classes were provided
in over fifty locations throughout the United States.
• FREE founded its branch in Sydney, Australia –
FREE of Sydney.
• January 8, 1991, FREE
Circumcision Program reached a historic milestone of performing
• FREE Holiday Awareness
Campaign reached a record, having printed fifty thousand
holiday guides. These guides described the Mitzvot of the
holidays. They were distributed throughout the United States.
• FREE founded its branch in Niles, Illinois –
FREE of Niles.
• FREE Circumcision
Program reached the historical milestone of performing
its ten thousandth circumcision.
FREE celebrated by holding a dinner at the Brooklyn Interfaith
Medical Center Lauria Auditorium, where most of the circumcisions
have been performed.
• FREE founded its branch in Cincinnati, Ohio –
FREE of Ohio.
• FREE Holiday Awareness
Campaign was granted permission by the Dime Savings Bank
of Brighton Beach Ave. to set up a permanent, year-round,
twenty- foot menorah outside the bank.
• FREE launches a new After
School Program in Brighton Beach.
• FREE Adult Education
Division arranged with the Novoye Russkoye Slovo, America’s
largest Russian-language newspaper, to feature FREE’s
Jewish Heritage Page. Each week, it features the weekly Torah
• FREE opened the first
Jewish day care center
in Brighton Beach .
• FREE’s Publishing House
launched the www.JudaisminRussian.com
website. A unique Russian-language website providing
extensive information on Jewish practices and observances,
access to traditional Jewish texts and sources of learning,
and holiday information with a handy English reference guide
for Rabbis serving Russian speaking communities.
• FREE Youth Services established the
Boys Choir. A Jewish Russian Boys Choir.
• FREE Publishing House
reprinted and distributed in mass
quantities titles in honor of FREE’s 35th Anniversary. Titles
include; Passover Haggadah, Chumash — Torah, Jewish Russian
Art Calendar (worldwide circulation) and the Jewish Russian
• Yeshiva and Camp FREE — Gan Israel Alumni Association held
Alumni Reunion commemorating FREE’s 35th year
of service at a gala reception dinner.
• FREE founded its branch in Riverwoods, Illinois —
F.R.E.E. of Northern Suburbs.
• April 17, 2005, FREE
Circumcision Program reached a historic milestone of performing its 13,000th
• In commemoration of the Rambam’s
800th Yahrzeit, FREE
Publishing House, in conjunction with SHAMIR, published a special volume
of his works, translated into Russian, titled; "Maimonides -
• FREE Youth Club conducted its
first winter/overnight retreat program, for underprivileged youth, held in the
Catskill Mountains of Upstate, NY.
• Following feat of the Mazel Day Care Center,
FREE brought the inauguration of Mazel Day School as the first contemporary,
high-quality Jewish Day School designed to cater specifically to the educational needs
of the Russian-Jewish child in Brighton Beach.
• FREE commissioned a scribe in Israel to write a new Sefer Torah Scroll, in memory of Ravchida ben Gilad Safaniev, to be used for services at America's First Russian Synagogue.
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