Jewish women throughout the FSU gathered last week for events that combined learning, relaxing and celebrating. In Riga, over a hundred women from Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia came together for an inspiring seminar that connected the participants from the three countries. Called the “Baltic Pearl”, the seminar was the first in the countries’ recent Jewish history to unite the communities in a large shared event.
“In recent years our learning programs for women amounted a ‘critical mass’ of active and involved members who felt the need for such a ‘trans-Baltic’ meeting that would empower them through unity and connection,” said rabbi Shmuel Kot, chief rabbi of Tallinn.
FJC communities in Lithuania and Latvia have been active for over 20 years, and 15 years in Estonia and have now grown to a point where “there is a desire to meet, to connect and to share,” rabbi Kot added.
And so early last Sunday morning, buses arrived to Tallinn and Vilnius to take the participants to Riga. Upon arrival, the groups toured the city and its Jewish heritage cites, which are plentiful. After the tour, participants gathered in a city hotel for a program filled with learning and celebration. Several lecturers joined the group, one of them Mrs. Ella Verzub from Moscow, who spoke about her turbulent childhood being a Jewish girl in the Soviet Union and fighting to keep her identity for herself and future generations.
Although the meeting came to an end, the discussions started at the seminar continue to be “the hot topic” on the participants’ social networks and chat groups, who hope to continue the dialogue soon, rabbi Kot said.
At the same time, on the other side of the Baltic sea a pampering evening was held for the women of Petersburg, attended by community members as well as newcomers. The evening was organized by Mrs. Sarah Pevzner, the wife of the city rabbi and other women from the community. The program included workshops on effective communications, healthy eating and psychological training, followed by a festive supper and a concert. “Events like these provide an opportunity for rejuvenation and re-energizing, something that is much needed during our harsh winters and weekly drudgery, and they are much appreciated,” said Anna Belik, one of the participants.