Accomplishments

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.

Starting 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.

1969:
• 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.

1970:
• 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.

1971:
• 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.

1972:
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.

1973:
• 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.

1974:
• 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.

1975:
• 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.

1976:
• August 15, 1976, FREE held its First Gala Pidyon Haben Ceremony at Camp FREE - Gan Israel, Parksville, New York.

1978:
• 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.

1979:
• FREE founded its branch in Detroit, Michigan – FREE of Michigan.

1980:
• 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.

1981:
• 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.

1982:
• 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 its 2,000th circumcision.

1983:
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 programs.

1984:
• 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.

1988:
• 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 Rebbetzin’s passing.
• 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.

1989:
• 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.

1991:
• January 8, 1991, FREE Circumcision Program reached a historic milestone of performing its 9,000th circumcision.

1992:
• 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.

1993:
• 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.

2000:
• 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.

2002:
• 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 portion.

2003:
• 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 M Generation Boys Choir. A Jewish Russian Boys Choir.

2004:
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 Holiday Guide.
• Yeshiva and Camp FREE — Gan Israel Alumni Association held a special 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.

2005:
• April 17, 2005, FREE Circumcision Program reached a historic milestone of performing its 13,000th circumcision.
• 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 - Collected Writings".
FREE Youth Club conducted its first winter/overnight retreat program, for underprivileged youth, held in the Catskill Mountains of Upstate, NY.

2006:
• 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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