The Jewish community in Ukraine celebrated the bar mitzvahs of two of the students at the “Stars” Program. An educational program directed at college aged students, “Stars” offers a monthly stipend to the students who follow a guided curriculum with qualified Jewish educators. Boris Simkin and Maxim Harashin decided to have their long belated bar mitzvah after participating in the “Stars” program and rethinking their Jewish identity.
With close to 5,000 participants across Russia, the “Stars” program has experienced much success. The program’s aim, says Rabbi A. Berkowitz of the FJC, is not only to educate the students academically, but to also give the students the sense of Jewish identity that Boris and Maxim discovered. “If they go through the program, hopefully they will marry each other and become a part of the Jewish Community.”