Hillel Russian Jewish Club decorates personalized Russian nesting dolls to express culture



Last Thursday, the Rutgers Hillel Russian Jewish Club hosted its first event of the semester — a Matryoshka Painting Party! Attendees were able to paint wooden toys, learn more about Russian culture and decorate Matryoshka, more commonly known as Russian Nesting Dolls.

The event took place off-campus at Gabrielle Kleyner's New Brunswick apartment. Kleyner is currently a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences junior and co-president of the organization.  

Matryoshka dolls vary in size so that they are able to fit inside each other. They can be as little as your index finger or as big as both of your palms.

“It’s a very Russian thing. It’s almost (always) identified with Russian culture and Russian people,” said Gabriel Kirshtein, a School of Arts and Sciences senior and the club’s other co-president. “Whenever you see anything inside of anything inside of anything, that’s where it’s from (Russia). They stole it.”

Students who attended the event were interested in the artistic, cultural and social value of event. 

“There are usually these traditional dresses or painting or the rosy cheeks or whatever, but this way, people can put their own modern spin on it and draw things that they appreciate or they’re into right now,” Kleyner said.

School of Arts and Sciences senior Julia Motis said the club is an offshoot of Rutgers Hillel, the Jewish organization on campus.

“I think it’s cool to see the other parts of Jewish culture. We have so many different Jewish communities here from so many different parts of the world so this just one of them,” said Evan Gottesman, a School of Arts and Sciences senior.

Various designs were painted on the Matryoshka dolls. One doll had a yellow minion on one side with the evil purple alter ego on the other. Rutgers Business School sophomore John Lerman painted former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and President Donald J. Trump on the sides of his doll. Gottesman and Motis showcased their inner Star Wars appreciation by painting a stormtrooper and BB-8, respectively.

“I just think it’s an awesome way to make the Rutgers community even smaller. I think you have the larger Jewish community, but then you also have Russian Jews which are somewhat similar but somewhat different, and I think the Matryoshka Painting Party is kind of an example of that,” Kleyner said.


Georgette Stillman

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