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Russian oligarchs in desert Photo: rjc.ru
Russian oligarchs in desert Photo: rjc.ru
 
 

Russian oligarchs reenact exodus in Arava desert

Group of Russian tycoons hike through Arava Desert before Seder, imitate ancient Hebrew lifestyle

Ofer Petersburg
Published: 03.30.13, 07:56 / Israel Travel

Several days before the Passover Seder an line of private jets landed at the Ovda Airport in southern Israel, from which descended 15 of the world's richest men, all dressed in white galabiyehs.

 

The group, part of Russia's economic Jewish elite, left their wallets behind and embarked on a four-day journey from the desert to Jerusalem, reenacting the exodus from Egypt.

 

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Instead of limousines and airplanes, the group travelled by camels. The price: $15,000, all donated to charity.


בדרך לירושלים. עלות התענוג: 15 אלף דולר  (צילום: rjc.ru)

En route to Jerusalem (Photo: rcj.ru)

 

Among the intrepid travelers were Yuri Kanner, chairman of the Russian Jewish Congress; Mikhail Fridman, founder of Alfa Group and considered the richest Jew in Russia (worth $16.5 billion); German Kahn, ranked no. 103 among the world's richest (worth $10.5 billion); Russian-Israeli businessman Mikhael Mirilashvili (worth $950 million;, Vadim Shulman, one of Ukraine's 100 richest men and Benny Briskin, CEO of the Jewish Congress.


עצירה להתרעננות. "חבל שאנשי עסקים ישראלים לא הצטרפו"   (צילום: rjc.ru)

Taking a break (Photo: rcj.ru)

 

"These are some of the most important tycoons in Russia, and some of the richest men in the world, who donate freely to Israel and sustain Jewish activity in Russia," said Alex Tenzer, a prominent activist in Russia's Jewish community.


תמונה קבוצתית (צילום: rjc.ru)

Group photo (Photo: rcj.ru)

 

"This year some international billionaires, not necessarily Russians, were also invited, like Ron Lauder, Len Blavatnik and Andrei Rapaport, but they couldn't make it due to previous engagements.

 

"It's too bad we weren't joined by a few Israeli businessmen. They could have made a few deals on the way."


מנוחה. "במדבר אין לאן לברוח" (צילום: rjc.ru)

"There's nowhere to run to" (Photo: rcj.ru)

 

For four days the group traversed dozens of kilometers through the desert terrain. They began their journey in Ein Yahav on Thursday, but were taken by surprise by a sandstorm on Friday.

 

"It was really scary," Briskin told Ynet. "We took cover behind some rocks and realized how efficient and smart kaffiyahs are in the desert. There's simply nowhere to run to."

 

During the trip the tycoons imitated the lives of ancient Hebrews: Some wore flax tunics and leather sandals, baked matzos and slept in tents.

 

On Friday, the group, all members of the Russian Jewish Congress, held an impromptu meeting in the desert.

 

"We discussed charity," they described. "It seemed fitting to the ancient spirit to help thy  neighbor."

 

Before their journey the "pilgrims" met with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and Russian Ambassador Sergey Yakovlev, for a formal dinner, and discussed collaborations, strengthening business and cultural ties between Moscow and Jerusalem.

 

 

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