The Jewish community of Vladivostok, Russian furthest South-East port city on the Pacific ocean, chose a Soviet theme for the holiday’s masquerade on Sunday, to underline Purim’s miracle of turning the darkest of times into a period of light and hope.
“Soviet symbolism may seem as a strange choice for the holiday’s celebration to some people,” says chief rabbi of Vladivostok region Shimon Varakyn, “but it actually highlights the meaning of the day. As we know, the Soviet regime was one of the main enemies of Jewish tradition in modern times, that spared no effort in separating Jews from their heritage. Even today its effects are still felt by some of our brethren, who are ashamed of their identity and try to guard off their children and grandchildren from it.
But, the Soviet regime failed – it has seized to exist and today our government promotes the freedom of religion. This means victory and we call on all Russian Jews to be proud of their heritage and identity, especially on Purim.”
Purim celebrations in Vladivostok were conducted in city synagogue, where the bust of Lenin with a red pilotka greeted the guests. Red young-pioneer ties were also distributed, and the synagogue was decorated with some posters and memorabilia of the Communist propaganda. The community read the Scroll of Esther and continued on to a festive meal, during which many personal stories of life and struggle under the Communist rule were exchanged, topped by remembering that the regime’s ruthless leader and Jewish enemy Stalin died on Purim 64 years ago.