Purim Celebrated Across the Former Soviet Union

The Federation of Jewish Communities of the CIS (FJC), Russia
March 8 2004

Purim Celebrated Across the Former Soviet Union

On March 7th and 8th, Jews from 420 communities throughout the Former
Soviet Union, members of the Federation of Jewish Communities,
celebrated Purim.

The FJC and its member communities distributed over 200,000
‘Mishloach Manot’ gift packages throughout the CIS and Baltic States.

In fulfillment of a Purim mitzvah of helping those in need, the FJC
provided food packages and other assistance to more than 100,000
needy people. Volunteers from many Jewish communities are also
tending to the needs of homebound and disabled Jews for the holiday.

Thanks to the Rohr Family Foundation and the Ohr Avner Foundation,
more than 150,000 Jews attended ‘Megilat Esther’ readings and Purim
celebrations, involving more than 13,000 children from the Ohr Avner
Chabad school network.

This year, many Jewish communities and individuals celebrated Purim
for the first time. Yet other elderly members of the Jewish
community, still able to recall such celebrations from their
childhood, witnessed the revival of the Purim holiday in their

Many communities that don’t have a permanent rabbi celebrated Purim
with guidance from visiting Yeshiva students from Russia, Ukraine and
the USA. Students of the Tomchei Tmimim Yeshiva in Rostov-on-Don were
particularly active, visiting communities in both Ukraine and Russia.

The following is an overview of community events held for Purim-5764:

Jews in MOSCOW, Russia, enjoyed Purim at the Jewish Community Center
at Marina Roscha. After words from Chief Rabbi of Russia Berel Lazar,
participants were treated to a variety show, a youth party featuring
popular rock group, a fashion show and an art exhibition.

The Sunday School of VLADIKAVKAZ, Russia, held a joint event with one
of the state schools, where Jewish children told children of other
ethnic groups and religions about Purim and Jewish traditions and
then held a Purimspiel and concert for them.

Despite an avalanche, over 40 Jewish youth from IZHEVSK, Russia,
turned up for the Purim carnival and discoteque.

200 guests gathered in a local cafe for a kosher Purim feast in
RYAZAN, Russia. Over 20 women participated in the ‘Esther the
Beautiful” contest. Though only one girl won, all participants walked
away with a prize.

In BARNAUL, Russia, the Jewish community held a Purimspiel at the
puppet theater.

Over 200 people gathered in KEMEROVO, Russia, to hear
recently-arrived Rabbi Dovid de Bresser read from ‘Megilat Esther’.

Jews of KOSTROMA, Russia, enjoyed the Sholom Aleichem play “Bloody
Joke”, staged by the Kostroma Chamber Drama Theater. The performance
included traditional Jewish songs and original music, as well as
wonderful dances.

Purim events at Ohr Avner Chabad Elementary and High Schools in
NOVOSIBIRSK, Russia, culminated in a firework display.

In KHABAROVSK, Russia, the ‘Mizrach’ community celebrated a Youth
Purimspiel for the first time in Russia’s Far East region. Jewish
youth enjoyed music and dancing all evening, with an interweaving of
Jewish modern, classical, and Chassidic music. The Women’s Club also
celebrated, with a turnout of over 110 people. Participants enjoyed
Jewish melodies, sweets, and a fashion show.

A Purim celebration took place in brand new Jewish Community Center

About 4000 people in KHARKOV, Ukraine, turned out for Purimspiel
performances at the local circus. Due to extra demand, there were two
separate celebrations, involving two separate concerts and readings
from ‘Megilat Esther’.

In CHERNOVTSIY, Ukraine, over 200 people gathered for a Purimspiel. A
lottery was held and Jewish books were given as prizes.

Youth in MINSK, Belarus initiated this year’s Purim events by
bringing gifts and holiday greetings to the sick, elderly and
underprivileged children. On Sunday, over 500 people gathered at the
‘Profsoyuz’ Cultural Center to celebrate Purim.

The Purim concert in VILNIUS, Lithuania featured a concert by the
Jerusalem Boys’ Choir.

Over 100 people in YEREVAN, Armenia gathering in a restaurant for a
meal and performance – in Hebrew and Yiddish – by the children’s
vocal group ‘Keshet’ (Raduga). The Sunday School held a Purimspiel
with a concert, contests, lottery, high-profile guests and gifts.

More than 60 children from the Jewish Kindergarten of TBILISI,
Georgia celebrated Purim. The children impressed guests with songs in
Hebrew, Yiddish, Georgian, Russian and English. Israeli Ambassador to
Georgia Rivka Cohen presented the children ‘Mishloach Manot’.

Jews of TASHKENT, Uzbekistan celebrated Purim at the ‘Alladin’
Theater. Following words by Chief Rabbi of Uzbekistan David Gurevich,
children from the Jewish school put on a performance. The Women’s
Club celebrated Purim with a traditional tea ceremony.

The Jewish Community of BAKU, Azerbaijan held a ‘Megilat Esther’
reading with contests and candies, a dinner and a concert. The Jewish
community of Azerbaijan also received congratulations from both
Muslim and Russian Orthodox leaders.

The Jewish children in ALMATY, Kazakhstan performed a Purimspiel in
four different languages for members of the Jewish community.