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Project Kesher
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New York, NY 10019
Tel: 212.600.0970

One Woman with a Vision

Sallie Gratch, a social worker from Evanston, Illinois, was amazed both by the depth of need in the communities she saw and by the number of Jewish women she met who had no desire to leave the country despite historic oppression during a visit to the Soviet Union in 1987. One of these women was Svetlana Yakimenko, a teacher in Moscow.

On Sallie’s second visit, with Svetlana along as fellow activist and translator, the pair discovered in one town after another that Jewish women might live next door to one another, yet be unaware of their connection. These women expressed interest in getting together with their neighbors to learn more about Judaism. From these meetings grew the idea of Project Kesher women’s groups, which have grown to take the lead in many areas of civic engagement.

Today Sallie Gratch remains a guiding force on the Project Kesher U.S. Board and Svetlana Yakimenko is Project Kesher’s CIS Director, working out of our Moscow office.