About Us

About Us

Who We Are

The Russian Jewish Division (RJD) provides customized programs and events for young professionals and young families of Former Soviet Union background.

United by our shared stories, we celebrate our heritage and grow leaders.

Our Mission

The Russian Jewish Division believes in the integration of Russian-speaking Jewish young adults into the greater Jewish community. Our mission is to engage our community in the pluralistic aspects of Jewish life from across the spectrum of observance. While continuing to tailor to the specific needs of our young adult community, RJD serves as a resource and 'connection' to JUF and the Jewish community at large.

Meet Our Leadership

Professional Staff

Genia Kovelman

Genia Kovelman is the Director of the Jewish United Fund's Russian Jewish Division (RJD) where she is responsible for the development and oversight of Russian-speaking Jewish young adult outreach in Chicago. Genia was born and raised in Ukraine, former USSR. She was very much involved in the Jewish Community and worked as a program professional at Kiev Hillel for five years. Genia earned both Bachelor of Science and Masters of Science in World History and Jewish Studies from the International Solomon University in Kiev, Ukraine. She also studied on a year-long program at Pardes Institute and Melton School at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel and Paidea Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. Genia began her career at the JUF in 2008 as a Program Director for Hillels Around Chicago: Russian Hillel cross-campus program and became the Director of the newly launched Russian Jewish Division in 2012.

Sasha Shmurak

Sasha is JUF's Russian Jewish Division's Program Associate. She joined the RJD team in May 2015. Sasha is responsible for maintaining outreach, creative marketing, and implementing social and cultural events for Russian-speaking Jewish Young Professionals. Sasha was born in Chernovtsy, Ukraine and immigrated to Chicago with her family in 1991. Having family in Israel, it is a place that Sasha calls her second home. Sasha is currently completing her degree at Loyola University majoring in Science and hopes to integrate corporate healthcare into day-to-day Jewish Life. Sasha enjoys making an impact on the community and encouraging others to find their Jewish Identity through unique and exciting experiences. She loves traveling, family time, discovering new cultures, and healthy debates. When she is not inspiring and promoting the Jewish community you can usually find her cuddled into a corner with a riveting book.

Jane Faynshteyn

Jane is the JUF's Russian Jewish Division's Young Families Outreach Director. She joined RJD team in May 2016. Jane is responsible for planning, organizing and executing educational, cultural and social programming for Russian-speaking Young Families in the Chicagoland area. Jane was born in Minsk, Belarus and grew up in Buffalo Grove. She holds BA in Business Administration from Bradley University and a Masters in Elementary Education from DePaul University. In the past, Jane has worked for the Chicago Public Schools and PJ Library Chicago. Jane also runs a continuing education school in the beauty industry. Jane is passionate about teaching and likes to read, ride bikes, and meet new people.

Advisory Board

Olga Abezgauz

Olga (Shalman) Abezgauz joined the RJD's Advisory Board in August 2012. She is excited about taking on existing projects and working on new initiatives with her peers. RJD has been her long term vision ever since 2001. After experiencing the Taglit-Birthright Israel trip, Olga took on leadership roles at her college Hillel and remained a lay leader for Russian Hillel cross campus program. Later, she helped form JUF's Russian Jewish Leadership Forum (RJLF) and served as a vice chair on their board as well. She has also served on the YLD board in 2009, where she began working as a community liaison. In July 2013 Olga was selected by YLD and Oy!Chicago for Double Chai in the Chi: Chicago’s Second Annual Jewish 36 under 36 list for her outstanding leadership. Olga's goals are to continue exploring her Jewish identity, absorbing the American culture and maintaining her Russian heritage. Through this process, she hopes to create opportunities for other Jews to do the same and share their experiences. Olga was born in Chelyabinsk, Russia and settled in Chicago after immigrating to the U.S. in 1992. Currently she is working as a healthcare recruiter. When Olga is not busy with her volunteer projects, she is spending time with her husband exploring different neighborhoods, taking spontaneous trips around the U.S. or collecting passport stamps abroad.

Vlad Eydelman

Vlad Eydelman is the immediate past Chairman of the RJD's Advisory Board. He joined the Board in August 2012. Vlad is originally from Minks, Belarus. He immigrated to the U.S. in 1979. Vlad attended Arie Crown Hebrew Day School and graduated from the Ida Crown Jewish Academy in 1991. He earned a BS degree in Finance and Computer Information Systems from Indiana University in Bloomington, IN. Vlad is an owner of RediTech Inc. and is an IT Consultant for CSC Consulting. Vlad served as a Board Member for the Hillels Around Chicago Foundation and is involved with congregation F.R.E.E. (Friends of Refugees Of Eastern Europe). Vlad enjoys tennis and participated in Maccabi Games in Israel in 2001 in judo. Vlad lives in Northbrook, IL with his wife Olga and three daughters Anya, Ilana and Daniella who are attending Solomon Schechter Day School.

Anton German

Anton (Tony) German is a Vice Chariman of the RJD's Advisory Board. He joined the Board in July 2013. He left St. Petersburg in 1998 to join his father in Skokie, attended Niles West High School and studied Computer Science at University of Illinois at Chicago. Founder and a CMO at BayRu, LLC, Anton was among Crain’s 40 Under 40 in 2012. After traveling to Israel on Taglit-Birthright Israel trip in 2012, Anton decided to get more involved with the Jewish Community. In July 2013, he was nominated by YLD and Oy!Chicago for Double Chai in the Chi: Chicago’s Second Annual Jewish 36 under 36 for his outstanding leadership. Anton now lives in Chicago's West Loop neighborhood. He highly values his connection to the Jewish community and Israel, and frequently attends JUF events, as well as being a regular at Chicago's Russian Moishe House. He hopes to bring to the table his experience in building and running an international ecommerce business, relationships in the entrepreneurial and business circles as well as his passion for the Russian Jewish community. Anton’s interests are in entrepreneurship, traveling, teaching, spending time with family and trying new things.

Anna Gorbikoff

Anna Gorbikoff was born in Ukraine, and at the age of nine she moved with her family to Israel. After graduating from the Air Force Technical Academy in Beer Sheva, she moved to Chicago. Anna has graduated from Northeastern Illinois University with a BA in Secondary Education with endorsements in Spanish and Hebrew. She began her career as a teacher in 2005 at a private Sunday school, where she taught Hebrew, Jewish traditions, and prepared students for Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremonies for 3 years. In 2009 she joined Stevenson High School, where she taught Spanish and Hebrew for 2 years. Anna also taught Hebrew at Deerfield High School. She is an active member of the Jewish community, and ever since she moved to the US, she keeps creating and supporting various Jewish educational programs in the Chicagoland. Anna enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with her family and friends. Learning languages and discovering new cultures is her passion. She enjoys culinary classes with her husband and climbing stairs with her two little kids, hoping to climb real mountains in not so distant future.

Felix Grudsky

Felix was born in Samarkand, Uzbekistan and his family immigrated to Chicago in 1994. Felix attended Ida Crown Jewish Academy and then graduated with honors from DePaul University with a degree in Mathematics. While in college, Felix became involved with DePaul Hillel, including serving as the organization's vice-president. Enjoying his Hillel experience so much, Felix decided to spend a year after college working as a JCSC fellow at Milwaukee Hillel. After a year in Milwaukee, Felix returned to Chicago and worked as a program associate at Russian Hillel/Hillels Around Chicago. While working at Hillel, Felix was instrumental in organizing the annual Russian Hillel Shabbaton and was a staff member of two Taglit-Birthright Israel trips. Felix subsequently attended medical school at Midwestern University/Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed Internal Medicine Residency at Manatee Memorial Hospital in Bradenton, FL. Following completion of his training Felix returned to Chicago and he currently practices outpatient Internal Medicine at Oak Street Health, an innovative network of primary care clinics that serve exclusively patients with Medicare. "I would like to use my past experiences to help build a strong Russian Jewish community of young professionals in Chicago", said Felix. He lives in Wicker Park and in his free time enjoys running, biking and vegan cooking.

Michael Iklov

Michael joined the RJD's Advisory Board in August 2012. Michael was born in Leningrad (St. Petersburg), Russia. His family immigrated to Chicago in 1990. In 2003 Michael graduated from DeVry University with a degree in Telecommunications Management and in 2012 achieved a Master's of Business Administration in Telecommunications Management from Keller Graduate School of Management. Since 2003 he has been actively involved in the Chicago Russian-speaking community. Michael also enjoyed working together with Russian Hillel cross campus program and Russian Jewish Leadership Forum (RJLF). In 2005 Michael went as a participant on Taglit-Birthright Israel trip and since then worked as a group leader on multiple trips himself and served as the first Russian-speaking Chicago fellow for Birthright Israel NEXT. Currently Michael is working for Environ International Corporation as a Sr. IT Support Specialist. Michael resides in Downtown Chicago with his wife Sofia.

Sofia Jouravel

Sofia Jouravel has joined RJD Board in July 2016. She emigrated from St. Petersburg in 1988 and has lived in NYC and California’s Bay Area before moving to Chicago in 2010. Since then she has actively participated and volunteered with various Jewish initiatives including Russian Hillel, Birthright Israel Next, YLD LEADS, School of Madrichim, and Moishe House and inaugural Ezra World Trips – China (2009) & Costa Rica (2011). Sofia is passionate about locally grown, sustainable food and while pursuing a Master’s in Public Health at Northwestern, she is interning at the Chicago Department of Public Health, transitioning from a career in the pharmaceutical industry to the sustainable food industry. " When I moved to Chicago in 2010, I was greeted with an open-armed Russian Jewish community full of events, opportunities, and friendly individuals who are now my close friends", said Sofia. "I want to give back to this wonderful community". Outside of work and school, she volunteers with several non-profits, loves to eat her way through Chicago, and plans busy weekends with her husband exploring the city and other states/countries (she’ll also help you plan yours!).

Yuliy Kleban

Yuliy Kleban join the RJD's Advisory Board in August 2012. He is originally from Kiev. Yuliy graduated from National Agricultural University of Ukraine. He works as a Senior Electrical Engineer at SPAAN Tech, Inc., Yuliy founded Chicago's Intellectual Club LAERT and currently serves as a leader of national intellectual clubs What?Where?When? He has been involved in the Chicago’s Russian Community events for over 10 years, he was active organizer of the annual Russian Shabbaton retreats and other projects.

Ellen Kroin

Ellen was born in the Chicagoland area and raised in Northbrook. Both of her parents emigrated from the Former Soviet Union. She completed college at Northwestern University and later moved onto medical school at Rush Medical College. She is currently completing her residency in Orthopaedic Surgery at Loyola University Medical Center. Ellen has had multiple leadership positions throughout medical school and residency that she hopes will help her be a key asset on the advisory board. As the President of the Jewish Students Association, she has set up many Jewish-related events throughout her 4 years in medical school. "I am very proud of my Russian Jewish heritage and I would like to join the advisory board to help get more Russian Jews throughout the Chicagoland area involved in JUF", said Ellen. When she is not busy fixing broken bones, she enjoys checking out Chicago restaurants, biking, tennis, and spending time with my family and friends.

Michael Kuzmenko

Michael was born and raised in the U.S. shortly after his family emigrated from the Former Soviet Union, now presently Ukraine. He graduated from DePaul University with B.S. in Commerce Economics and spent some time studying in Yeshivot and in Israel. He works as a financial analyst and has experience working at start-ups and small businesses. "I feel indebted to all the selfless individuals and organizations that gave me a Jewish education and brought me closer to Jewish values and community", said Michael. "I feel privileged to have such heritage and want to pay it forward".

Lina Ostrov

Lina Ostrov has joined RJD's Advisory Board in February 2015.

Peter Razumovskiy

Peter joined RJD's Advisory Board in June 2012. He emigrated from Moscow, Russia in 1994 and has since lived in Skokie, Northbrook, and Chicago. Peter first got involved in Jewish organizations during his college years at De Paul University, which he graduated in 2005 with a double major in Accounting and Finance. Since graduation Peter has been very involved in organizing Jewish networking events and hosting Shabbat dinners for young professionals in Chicago. Peter is grateful to organizations such as Hillel and JUF for helping him establish lasting friendships and professional relationships, and hopes to contribute to Russian Jewish Division by providing opportunities for Russian Jews to leverage their community to benefit their careers. Peter has been a Certified Public Accountant since 2006, and in his spare time is an avid traveler, triathlete, and sports fan.

Ilya Trakhtenberg

Ilya Trakhtenberg joined RJD's Advisory Board in January 2013. Ilya is originally from Lviv, Ukraine. He immigrated to Chicago with his family in 1990. Ilya is currently completing a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University (expected June 2013). Prior to Kellogg, Ilya spent four years as a management consultant with L.E.K. Consulting, where he advised senior executives in corporate and investment firms in industries ranging from medical technology to nuclear energy. Ilya will be returning to L.E.K. after the completion of his MBA degree. Ilya currently serves as the President of the Jewish Business Association at Kellogg and is a member of the Board of Directors of the America-Israel Chamber of Commerce of Chicago. Ilya received a BA in Economics and Political Science from Northwestern University. Prior to joining the RJD Board, Ilya has been involved in the Russian Hillel program and the Russian Jewish Leadership Forum initiative with the JUF. He enjoys spending time with his two daughters, playing tennis, and reading history books.

Alex Turik

Alex Turik is a Chariman of the RJD's Advisory Board. He joined the Board in August 2012. Alex was born in Leningrad (St. Petersburg), Russia. He moved to Israel in 1990. After finishing his service in the IDF in 1999 he came to the U.S. In 2004 Alex graduated from DePaul University with a double major in Finance and Computer Science. Shortly after the graduation he was recruited to JP Morgan's financial analyst training program. In 2008 he was accepted to University of Chicago for the MBA program and in 2009 together with his brother Nik started his real estate company - HAN Capital. In 2009 Alex co-founded Russian Jewish leadership Forum (RJLF) initiative. Alex is very passionate about the Russian Jewish community. He hopes that his life experience, business and organizational background can help RJD became a major pillar of the Russian Jewish Community in Chicago.

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