Submarine, Wonder Park and Legendary AutoVAZ Museum: Jewish Kids’ Epic Summer Trip to Samara and Togliatti

While many parents are keen to find new ways to keep their kids engaged and entertained over the summer break, a group of Jewish teenagers from Volgograd, led by the city’s Chief Rabbi Zalman Yoffe and Rabbanit Yael Yoffe, decided to embark on an incredible adventure and enjoy fun days out in Samara and Togliatti — two large energetic cities in the very heart of Russia.

The seven-day journey started in Togliatti’s Technical Museum park complex, which offers, alongside many products of Soviet engineering and industry, a unique exhibit on display: a former Soviet attack submarine B-307, the biggest diesel submarine in the Russian fleet, decommissioned in 2002 after serving in the navy for nearly two decades. Children admitted that they were quite amazed with the way the submarine looked inside and could barely imagine how 70 people could live in such cramped space for up to three months.

The group also visited the Samarskaya Luka National Park and the Zhiguli Biosphere Reserve, took part in an interactive performance at “Zhigulevskaya Skazka” local theater and, after a long bus ride, took a tour around Samara. The city was significantly transformed for the 2018 World Cup, with more than 400 historical buildings getting renovated.

In Samara children visited the private museum of Eldar Ryazanov, the master of Soviet cinema.

Eliana Koroleva shared her excitement about the sightseeing: “Stunning nature and architecture. The buildings were striking in their asymmetry. After a lovely lunch at a Jewish school, we went on to the Galileo Wonder Park and it was simply magical! I think what I liked the most was the Labyrinth of Illusions, where the laws of physics disappear and you can walk, run and jump on walls! And then we took a boat trip along the river and enjoyed the evening view of the city from the water. It was a perfect day.”

Another highlight of the trip was a visit to the AutoVaz Museum, famous for its rare car models and prototypes that were never released for mass production. High-speed cars, sports cars, vehicles that can serve at the North Pole and under other extreme conditions – over 60 unusual cars with long history and interesting backgrounds are on display.

A collection of iconic Lada cars in AutoVAZ Museum.

The adventures continued in an amusement park that offered children a bird’s eye view of the city from the “Solar Circle” wheel, as well as other attractions and a photo session at the end.

Elena Trescheva, mother of one of the participants, thanked the local Jewish community for the excellent travel arrangements: “My daughter Eva is delighted, she returned home full of the most positive emotions. She was utterly impressed by the tour around Samara, the AvtoVAZ museum, the cave, and, of course, the celebration of Shabbat. She was very pleased with the trip!”

Teambuilding and games are an essential part of the trip.

The eventful week culminated in emotional Shabbaton with delicious snacks, games, barbecue, dancing, Shabbat lottery and prayers.

Information and photos provided by the Jewish Community of Volgograd.

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