“When I meet new people that ask me about my origins I always say that I was born in a country that doesn’t exist anymore. Since I have since lived and worked in at least five other countries, it is hard for most people to guess right away that that country is the former Soviet Union”
Viktoria Kanar was born in Moscow into a Jewish family that neither denied nor lived their Judaism in a practical way, which nonetheless might still have been more than the fate of many other Soviet Jews.
In the late 80’s, once freedom started somewhat coming about, Viktoria was taken to Moscow’s main synagogue on Archipova St. and then, in 1989 enrolled into the first makeshift Jewish school to be opened after the war. This is when her love affair with the Jewish people and Israel began.
In 1999, still in high school, Kanar was selected board member of the Berlin Jewish Student Union (JSB) and was shown a whole new world of activism.
After graduation and spending three months in Israel, her college years coincided both with being elected chairperson of the Federal Union of Jewish Students in Germany (BJSD) and the beginning of the Intifada in 2001. Thus began very challenging, but extremely interesting years of Israel advocacy, helping Jewish students confront Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism, all while ensuring we could provide them with a sense of Jewish identity and belonging.
Her exciting student years, which took Kanar across Europe and beyond, also as a board member of the European Union of Jewish Students (EUJS) ended shortly before embarking on her final step in the Jewish student sphere: the decision to run for chair of WUJS.
There had been only one woman before Kanar that held that position, but with Jewish student activists usually being more progressive and open-minded in their world view, she didn’t experience any problems and actually on the contrary was lucky to receive support from great friends and activists between St. Petersburg and Santiago de Chile and beyond. Thus, once Viktoria became the chair of WUJS in 2005, it was like closing a big circle of her previous work and experience and giving back to those who needed our help the most.
Viktoria speaks of endless fun and meaningful moments: a student seminar in St. Petersburg, a beautiful delegation to the AJC Annual Meeting, like so many others since, representing Jewish students in Auschwitz, bringing an interfaith delegation to Israel for the commemoration of Itzhak Rabin and much more.
“WUJS is a pillar of young, intellectual Jewish life and I hope that there will be always enough people and organizations to recognize and support it. My professional life and passion took me to the world of fashion, a place I couldn’t have imagined myself in just a few years before. However, what I do has a very special character: my company, GeekChicTLV promotes Israeli fashion innovation abroad, by producing shows and conferences with Israeli startups and designers. In March 2017 my team brought over a 100 journalists and fashion professionals from 20 countries to Fashion Week in Tel Aviv. So once again, I am very close to what I have always loved to do: telling the beautiful and extraordinary story of Israel and its people.”
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