Hundred of thousands of FSU Jews took part in FJC fall Jewish holidays celebrations of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Simchat Torah. The participants, coming from 90 large communities and over 290 smaller towns and villages across 10 countries, made a meaningful impact on the growth of Jewish activity in the region, with thousands of festive services, meals, workshops, gifts, volunteering, lectures and concerts taking place over the month of October.
In small towns and rural centers, which do not have regular Jewish activity, local rabbinical students and rabbis from US and Israel visited and organized a holiday activity.
The local news and media services also noticed the rise of activity and reported on notable Jewish events, be it dancing with the Torah scrolls in a synagogue in Bobruisk, Belarus or blowing in the Shofar at the end of Yom Kippur in Moscow.
FJC youth program activists also took their part in October events. The volunteers from the EnerJew youth movement visited the elderly and distributed holiday gifts, while EuroStars students learned with community members in the Sukkah throughout the region.
There were also a lot of informal activities organized for participants of all ages: festive Shofar blowing in the park, ‘waving the four species’, concerts and gatherings. All this, of course, besides the official prayer services, holiday meals, and joyful Simchat Torah celebrations, concluding the holiday series.
“It is peculiar that the holiday of Simchat Torah was very popular in Jewish communities even in Soviet times, when Jewish services were generally forbidden. Since the 1960’s Simchat Torah became a national symbol, when Jews would gather in front of synagogues and sing in Hebrew and Yiddish, dance and declare their national allegiance this way,” one local newspaper in Belarus reported. Thankfully, this fall holiday season, the Jews of the former Soviet Union could freely claim their heritage and identity.