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November 16, 2014 12:33 pm

Author Amoz Oz’s Daughter Retraces Family Roots at Limmud FSU Ukraine

avatar by Alina Dain Sharon /

Mayor Volodymyr Khomko, Chaim Kessler, Fania Oz-Salzberger, and Rabbi Shneor Shneerson, the Rabbi of Rivne next to the Oz family home in the Ukraine. Photo: Courtesy of Limmud FSU.

JNS.0rg – The daughter of Israeli novelist Amoz Oz has retraced her father’s life as described in his memoir, A Tale of Love and Darkness, in the city of Rivne in northern Ukraine.

Professor Fania Oz-Salzberger visited the childhood home of her great-grandparents as part of the recent four-day Limmud FSU conference in Lviv, Ukraine. Oz-Salzberger is an author, historian, and professor in the Faculty of Law and the Center for German and European Studies at the University of Haifa. Her family immigrated to pre-state Israel in 1933.

Oz-Salzberger was welcomed to her family’s hometown and former residence by current Rivne Mayor Volodymyr Khomko, and she unveiled a memorial plaque prepared by Limmud FSU. She also visited the site of the school where her grandmother studied.

Oz-Salzberger presented at the Limmud FSU conference about the book she wrote jointly with her famed father, Jews and Words. Other presenters included Victor Shenderovitch, a prominent Russian writer, journalist, and playwright; the Israeli ambassadors to Belarus and Ukraine, Yosef Shagal and Eliav Belotserkovsky; Klara Novikova, a distinguished Russian actress; Roman Bronfman, a former member of the Israeli Knesset; and others.

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The content of the Ukraine conference was an example of Limmud FSU’s focus on “haskalah”—meaning enlightenment or education—as recently detailed in a broader profile of the grassroots organization.

“The success of an event like this, which is organized and run purely by volunteers, is so heart-warming that we will seriously consider holding a Limmud FSU conference in Lviv on an annual basis,” said Chaim Chesler, co-founder of Limmud FSU, in a statement about Oz-Salzberger’s visit.

Additional activity that took place as part of Limmud FSU’s Ukraine conference included a screening of the Oscar-nominated film, In Darkness, which is about eight people who hid in the sewers of Lvov during the Holocaust. The book’s author, a survivor from the group who lives in Long Island, participated in the event via Skype.

Another example of Limmud FSU’s philosophy of promoting historical and secular education, while at the same time catering to the Russian-Jewish community’s interests, was at Limmud FSU’s 2010 conference in New York, when former NASA astronaut Garrett Reisman addressed the crowd in Russian—to the audience’s delight. A year after Reisman spoke at the Limmud FSU event in New York, the former NASA astronaut attended another Limmud FSU event in the southern Israeli city of Be’er Sheva along with Alexei Leonov, a former Russian cosmonaut who was the first man to “walk” in space in 1965, as well as current Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Korniyenko.

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