Last week hundreds of FJC communities across the former Soviet Union, opened their doors to welcome local Jews for Rosh Hashanah celebrations. Thousands partook in holiday meals, shofar listening and various programs planned around the holiday for kids, youth and grown-ups.
This week the same communities were busy preparing for Yom Kippur – performing the customary Kaparot ceremony for the masses, hosting lectures and getting the members connected to the holiest days of the Jewish calendar.
“FSU Jewry sees an enormous importance and a sign of their deep and on-going connection to Judaism in participating in the rituals of these days – the prayers, the blowing o the shofar, the festive meals and the meaningful fast. This is evidence of how much Jewish life in the FSU has revived since the fall of the Iron Curtain more than 25 years ago,” said Daniel Gordon, FJC’s outreach coordinator.
“Young, old, men and women, children and teenagers, people from all different types of backgrounds take part in FJC’s Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur activities – another sign of renewal and vibrance of the region’s Jewish communities,” he said.
For Yom Kippur, FJC communities have released viral social media videos explaining the intricate traditions o the day and have provided on-site support for any questions and inquiries. Symbolic kaparot – atonement rituals were performed everywhere from Tallinn to Azerbaijan, while the day’s prayer services drew thousands of people to the region’s synagogues and community centers.
“We are hoping for a good and sweet year for Jews worldwide and here in our region, and by making a decision to become closer to our people in some way – each in his own, we are showing our resolve not just by words, but by action,” said Rabbi Berel Lazar, Chief Rabbi of Russia in an e-mail greeting message on Tuesday, ahead of Yom Kippur.