The first of its kind heritage expedition took place this summer in Ukraine, when young rabbinical students toured the country on mobile synagogue trailers, trying to bring a spark of Jewish identity to every Jew they met on their way.
Such “mitzvah-mobile” expeditions first appeared in New York in the 70’s, but this August was the first time the vehicles trailed the planes of Ukraine. The trip, organized by the Federation of Jewish Communities of Ukraine, lasted about three weeks and spanned 20 southern Ukrainian cities.
“The goal of our visit is to invigorate Jewish life in the places we visit,” said Mendel Wolf, one of the expedition participants, in an interview to a local Ukrainian newspaper. “We believe there are no lost o forgotten Jews – just those whom the synagogue hasn’t reached yet.”
The expedition generated a lot of interest in the Jewish communities of the cities visited as well as among local residents.
While visiting a city, the young rabbis would engage in conversations with the curious on-lookers, both Jewish and not, providing them with rich information about Jewish history, culture and traditions. They would also welcome people inside the mobile synagogue, showing them around and explaining to them various details of religious services and symbols of Judaism.
“The motto of our trip is a wise Jewish saying that declares ‘Even a little lights dispels a lot of darkness,’ and we tried to light sparks of interest and understanding in those we met,” rabbi Wolf concluded.
The mitzvah-mobile trip began in the city of Kherson on the 2nd of August and concluded in Odessa on August 20th.