Attendees learned about Ukraine’s post-Holocaust history, social media marketing in the Jewish world, and the work of artist Marc Chagall.

More than 350 participants put the Covid-19 pandemic to one side for a day this week to celebrate Jewish life in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv.

Limmud Ukraine continued its tradition as an uplifting festival featuring singing and dancing as Jews from across the former Soviet Union gathered at the medieval city near the border with Poland to explore their roots.

Attendees learned about Ukraine’s post-Holocaust history, social media marketing in the Jewish world, and the work of artist Marc Chagall, who was born into a Chasidic Jewish family in present-day Belarus but spent the last 50 years of his life in France. Other sessions included Yiddish, Hebrew music and Israel.

It proved a welcome tonic for the sombre mood in the capital Kyiv a day earlier, when the Ukrainian and Israeli presidents paid tribute to the victims of the Babyn Yar massacre.

“The fact we opened Limmud Ukraine 2021 the day after the Babyn Yar [80-year anniversary] ceremony ended was very symbolic, from death to life,” said Chaim Chesler, who founded Limmud FSU, which is for Russian-speaking Jews. “We focus on the future, but we don’t forget the past.”

Limmud FSU chair Matthew Bronfman said: “We were delighted to return to Ukraine’s historic capital, Lviv, for a fifth time to celebrate our cautious return to ‘normal’ programming.”