Sumy, Ukraine: ‘Purim In The Shtetel’

With a bazaar around the corner from the Synagogue and a regular scene of locals dressed right out of the shtetel, the Jewish community of Sumy, Ukraine wasn’t quite sure how a Purim party themed “in the Shtetl” would actually play out.

As the local economy continues to collapse and many people are experiencing difficulties Rabbi Yechiel Shlomo and Rochi Levitansky wanted to bring an upbeat atmosphere to the Purim party. The crowd completely connected to the theme – it hit their ‘Pintile Yid’ – so close to home, unearthing the feelings of Yiddishkeit covered by years of communism. In Sumy there has never been such a successful Purim party as this. The Yiddishe Shtetel brought out nostalgia in the crowd. 

The room was decorated by the staff of the FJC’s ‘Or Avner’ Preschool including: bales of hay and old antiques as the stage where the Megillah was read, a horse drawn wagon filled with challah rolls as center pieces and washing line hanging from the ceiling. The choleptches, bobby’s chicken soup and apple strudel all created a varme Heimishe feeling. 

People brought pictures of their grandparents and came forward to speak about their loved ones throughout the program. The Klezmer band from Konotop played inspiring Ukrainian and Yiddish songs about life in the shtetel bringing tears and laughter to all.

The highlight, was the beautiful Purim Shpiel by the FJC’s ‘Or Avner’ Preschool and the “kazatzka” the Rabbi and his little sons performed for the crowd spontaneously as the  ‘hop kozzak’ song was played.

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