F.R.E.E. kindles the hearts of Russian Jewry

BROOKLYN NY, December 24, 2006

his Chanukah FREE officers, volunteers and staff touched the hearts and souls of tens of thousands of Russian Jews through its annual Chanukah Campaign.

As an integral part of FREE’s Holiday Awareness Campaign, the FREE Publishing House has published hundreds of thousands of Chanukah Guides in the Russian language, explaining basic concepts and a brief history of the holiday.

The guides were distributed worldwide through Chabad Houses and Jewish organizations throughout North America, Canada, Europe and Australia – working with Jews from the former Soviet Union.


At a busy street on Brighton Beach, near Coney Island Avenue, FREE erected its annual public Menorah with lightings and celebrations each night of Chanukah, where thousand of passerby witnessed the miracle of Chanukah.

Chanukah, the eight-day celebration, also known as the Festival of Lights, has a special significance for the Russian Jews here in America, reflects Rabbi Mayer Okunov, Chairman of FREE.

"Some people remember their grandfathers putting up a menorah, but they had to lock the doors to do it," he said. "Now, we do it publicly."

FREE puts up a large menorah annually so that everyone in the area can see it. "When people ride by on the train or look out of their apartment windows, we want to remind them of the great miracles that happened," he said.

"Here we can celebrate Chanukah without fear. It is a great feeling. America is a great country," concluded Rabbi Okunov.


Over 100 pairs of Lubavitch yeshiva students rang doorbells, visiting locals in the area to hand them Chanukah Menorah kits; which includes a menorah, candles, dreidel, and holiday brochures. Some 150 volunteers took part in the Chanukah gift program. Among the recipients were the homebound elderly.


Now with summer behind us and the cold winter quickly approaching, Camp FREE-Gan Israel is actively preparing for yet another wonderful winter experience.

The winter camp is geared specifically for children of Russian Jewish families that do not enjoy a formal religious education throughout the year. Located in the Catskill Mountains, Upstate New York, Camp FREE offers these children a whole variety of winter sports, including: skiing, snow-tubing, ice skating, and much more,

But the camp experience doesn’t stop there. Its devoted staff, who maintain close contact with the campers all year round, conduct with them Shabbaton-weekend retreats and camp reunions, thereby solidifying the lessons they learned while in camp.

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