Director of Jewish Education, Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria Shalom
Maxim’s first memory of the Jewish community is of when he was four or five years old. Communism had just fallen in Bulgaria and Maxim’s grandmother took him to a few events of the newly re-established Jewish community. Back then events consisted of one of two options – a political meeting or a poetry reading. Clearly, neither were particularly interesting for Maxim. To sweeten the deal, after any visit to the JCC, his grandmother always took him to the Jewish restaurant, which had the best (pork) meatballs in Sofia. As a result, Maxim hated Jewish programs, but loved Jewish food. When his grandmother sent him to Jewish summer camp, he expected poetry, politics, and great food. What he got was an amazing experience with fun, interesting programs, and absolutely awful food. Fast forward to the present, Maxim is many years older and several sizes larger (he still loves Jewish food), but still devoted to the Jewish community. He recently left a career in advertising to work for the Jewish community with the goal of ensuring that Jewish programming go beyond poetry, politics, and religion to be a relevant, exciting, and meaningful experience. Maxim almost won the Bulgarian version of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire,” was almost excommunicated by a rabbi over a wedding ritual, and is always trying to synthesize between Jewish tradition and modern life. For the past seven years he has organized a sushi Passover seder, and loves to create variations of board games around the Jewish holidays (such as his "Cards Against Hannukah Humanity").