On December 5, 2010, with a record 6,000 people in attendance at the Kremlin’s Palace of the People, David Rozenson and the AVI CHAI Foundation received “The Man of the Year” Award for their work in the publication and wide distribution of Jewish literature in Russian and for the creation and launch of Booknik.ru, the most popular website in Russian.Over the past several years, the AVI CHAI Foundation led by their director in the former Soviet Union launched a series of fiction, non-fiction, and an illustrated series of books for children on Jewish themes in Russian. With more than 150,000 books in circulation, the project represents the largest effort to date in enabling Russian Jews to become familiar with Jewish life and culture through the pages of the published books and www.booknik.ru, the most widely read website, with a daily visiting traffic of over 20,000 people.
In accepting the award, which was presented by Russia’s Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar, David Rozenson noted that the Foundation never accepts awards, making an exception only due to the recognition of the flourishing possibilities for Jewish life in Russia. He also emphasized that it is not him personally but the entire Board of Trustees of the AVI CHAI Foundation, founded by a single benefactor, the late Mr. Zalman Chaim Bernstein and his dream of enabling Jews to become far more closely aware of the richness of Jewish life and culture, whether in New York, Jerusalem, or Moscow.
In his speech, David Rozenson singled out Mr. George Rohr and the entire AVI CHAI Board of Trustees for their trust and encouragement in expanding AVI CHAI’s activities in Russia for the wide and most diverse Russian Jewish audience, noting that there were people in attendance, including Mr. Lev Leviev and local supporters of many projects and programs for this audience, who set an example that he hopes many others will follow.
Mr. Rozenson also mentioned that the Foundation is due to close within the next ten years, during which time his main goal is to identify partners for the Foundation’s work and most importantly that the leadership of all Jewish organizations and Jewish life in the former Soviet Union would be lead by today’s students - in Jewish day schools, summer camps, academic programs, and other initiatives currently taking place in what has now miraculously become a possibility - which he hopes would enable a new generation of young educated Jews to take over the reigns of Jewish life.
To much applause, David Rozenson said that initiatives like Booknik.ru, the book series, and many other programs would continue to focus on nurturing a young generation of Jewish men and women who even today can make a significant contribution to the expansion and strengthening of Jewish education, tradition, and life, thanking those who, together with AVI CHAI, are investing in today’s and tomorrow's future.
He also expressed his gratitude to his family that had always supported him, as well as his friends and partners, including local and international Foundations that share this dream and vision.