Hundreds of Jewish communities, in both large cities and small towns and villages across the former Soviet Union, are now in the final stages of preparation towards a very different Passover, unlike any they have ever experienced before. With traditional public Seders forbidden and an unprecedented global financial crisis due to the coronavirus epidemic, tens of thousands of Passover Seder kits and Kosher food parcels are being prepared and distributed to the entire community.
Across the FSU, Passover, the ‘Festival of Freedom’, has always been celebrated with special excitement and emotion. For Russian Jewry, which experienced first-hand the terrible oppression of the Soviet regime for over 70 years, Passover has always signified yearning and hope for freedom. Even under the worst restrictions, Jews across the USSR did all they could to obtain matzah and kosher wine so they could secretly observe the Seder in their homes.
Since the fall of the iron curtain, thanks to the dedicated efforts of the FJC (Federation of Jewish Communities of the CIS) the Jews of the region have celebrated Passover in many hundreds of public Seder night events, each attended by hundreds of participants of all ages. This year, for the first time in decades, FSU Jewry is being forced to stay in their homes and cannot celebrate in public.
In order to assist them in observing the traditions in their homes, the FJC together with its hundreds of communities, humanitarian aid projects, formal and informal educational institutions and projects, and student and teenager clubs and programs, have created an army of volunteers to source, pack and deliver tens of thousands of special Passover kits and Kosher for Passover food parcels to be delivered to the front doors of each and every community member.
The set includes a Seder plate with all the symbolic food items, matzah, wine or grape juice, and a Haggadah in Russian with explanations for each step. The food parcel includes strictly Kosher for Passover items, such as fish and meat, eggs, vegetables and fruit, oil, sugar and salt, nuts, cakes and – of course – additional matzah for the remaining eight days.