Fifteen Russian Jewish billionaires celebrated Passover with a pilgrimage through the desert this year. They began their journey in the morning of March 21. The starting point of the journey has been the area between the Dead Sea and Eilat in the Arava desert. Wearing the clothes resembling the attire of ancient Jews – tunics and sandals – the businessmen spent four days crossing the desert on foot, heading towards Jerusalem. Five camels with drivers accompanied them.
The entrepreneurs spent nights in the desert in Bedouin tents. On the third day of the journey, these representatives of the business elite of the Russian society celebrated the Sabbath in the desert. And on the last day of the trip, they completed the program by baking matzoth on the rocks, to take them to Moscow home for the ritual Passover celebration.
Among those who took part in the campaign are Mikhail Freidman co-owner of “Alfa-Group” (In 2011, Forbes assessed Fridman’s wealth as US$ 15.1 billion, making him the 7th richest man in Russia and 43rd worldwide); German Khan, Executive Director of TNK-BP (according to Forbs owned today US$10.5 billion); and Michael Mirilashvili, owner of one of the biggest casino chains in Europe and co-owner of the network Vkontakte (‘In contact’, the Russian equivalent of the Facebook”.)
The executive director of the Russian Jewish Congress Benny Briskin and Mikhail Friedman.
The participants of the pilgrimage joined a meeting of the Russian Jewish Congress, which for several years has taken place in the desert during Passover.
The executive director of the Russian Jewish Congress Benny Briskin mentioned in his interview to the popular Russian radio station Komersant FM that the pilgrimage is not only an opportunity to pay tribute to the traditions, but also a chance to escape from everyday life and talk about the eternal questions.
“There were much more those who desired to join our campaign than we were able to take along. If the group would be too large we wouldn’t be able to get that intimate atmosphere and unique communication. Lots of times we had talks, which were not devoted to business, not devoted to short-term problems; we could talk about the eternal. Moreover, in the desert mobile phones usually do not work, so our offices are not able to reach and disturb us,” he said.
The Russian Jewish Congress members hope that the pilgrimage of Russian businessmen to Israeli desert will become an annual tradition.