Members' Comments

"My connection to the congregation..."
Translated from Hebrew by David Baird

Felix Kolmakov, Board Member

Hello, my name is Felix Kolmakov, 36 years old, and married. 

I came to Congregation Shirat HaYam - Carmel through friends whom were already members. There I found wonderful people who share a similar background and age. I love to participate in the beit midrash and study in-depth knowledge of Judaism. Also I also enjoy the family events of the congregation, such as educational trips and the holidays.

We have hopes that registering as a non-profit organization will advance the congregation in a number of ways - find a permanent place for activities, a clear framework, collaborate with other congregations, and give us an opportunity to increase the number of people attending our events.

Natalia Kaplan, Congregant

My name is Natalia Kaplan, 30 years old. I made aliyah from Minsk a year ago. I worked in the Reform Jewish congregation in Minsk for 12 years. 

It was clear that I wanted to continue the Judaism I knew in Minsk, and also find a spiritual and egalitarian place of worship in Israel. For me, as new immigrant, it was very important to find a Russian speaking congregation so I could actively participate. Congregation Shirat HaYam - Carmel was the place I was searching for! 

This congregation has made my immigration experience less traumatic, my friends helped and supported me on all sorts of levels. I think I found a spiritual home in Israel which understands the difficulties and issues of making aliyah.

Thank you for all those who established the congregation, especially Rabbi Ilana Baird, and all those who made this congregation possible to exist. I hope that you continue to attract a lot of people who need such a place – open and connecting new and well established immigrants together in the Jewish tradition.

Kira Hayit, President 

My connection with Ilana began from the beit midrash which she led for two years from Oranim College, and to the people who participated that didn’t want to lose touch. Such was the idea to establish a congregation of our own after Oranim College’s project ended.

I made aliyah 12 years ago but did not found a way to connect directly my tradition and to Judaism until I joined Rabbi Ilana Baird’s congregation. Now there are also a place for my son to gain knowledge about the country in which he was born, the history of the people and the holidays.

In the congregation there are plenty of ideas for a variety of activities, including for young families. We need financial support to implement all of our great ideas and to expand all activities to best accommodate the needs of Russian speaking congregants. Members of the congregants are mostly young families, there are always new people joining that are looking a spiritual setting for friendly encounters.

We need a permanent location to continue to function as a congregation. We hope to succeed and continue to help many more connect with our tradition and Jewish identity!