The Pesach Project Fellowship is a program through Hillel of Greater Washington that annually selects college students from the Greater Washington area to participate in a semester-long Fellowship focused on Judaism in the Former Soviet Union.
The highlight of Pesach Project is a spring trip to Kharkov, Ukraine. While in the Former Soviet Union, Fellows will run holiday celebrations, conduct services, visit with the elderly and meet with peer Hillel counterparts. The Fellowship encompasses more than just the trip to Ukraine, however, and is designed to develop young Jewish leaders in the Washington, D.C. collegiate area and enrich world Jewry by bringing our ancient story of freedom to Jews of all ages and backgrounds in Ukraine. What better way to rehearse the progression from bondage to liberation than to share that message with Holocaust survivors and new Jewish generations in the places where just a few short years ago modern-day pharaohs enslaved our people?
Throughout the process, the Fellows who endeavor in this project become a presence in the community, an important symbol of Jewish concern for fellow Jews and Jewish continuity, and a model of what proud, informed young Jews can do in the world.
Throughout the spring semester before their trip, Pesach Project Fellows participate in a series of weekly seminars taught by previous Fellows and distinguished guest speakers. Seminars cover a variety of topics including holiday customs, Hillel in the Former Soviet Union and Ukrainian history and culture. These weekly meetings also serve to develop camaraderie among fellows who, being from multiple campuses, may not have the opportunity to see each other during the week.
Fellows also attend at least one Shabbaton, where they will have the opportunity to delve deeply into Jewish learning and fully prepare for the experience that awaits them upon arrival in Ukraine.
After the four months of weekly training sessions and the group Shabbaton, the Fellows will journey to Ukraine, visiting Kiev and Kharkov. The Fellows will lead and participate in holiday celebrations, conduct home visits and explore Jewish identity and global Judaism. This journey will not only change the lives of the Jews in Ukraine, but will undoubtedly act as a catalyst for the Fellows' future endeavors into Jewish leadership.
The Fellows will be required to develop an individual leadership initiative after returning to the United States. This project will take place either in their home community or college community. Leadership initiatives are a way for each Fellow to follow up on their experience and increase community awareness of and efforts regarding global Judaism. Each selected Fellow becomes an investment of our community and it is understood that Fellows should use their knowledge and experience to broaden the base of Jewish leadership in Washington, D.C. and beyond.