Despite a raging blizzard outside, Kiev community members gathered in the five star Fairmont Grand Hotel in Kiev, Ukraine, to celebrate Purim in Ancient Persia, hosted by R. Raphael and Devorah Rutman.
The main ballroom was decorated to look like Achashverosh’s Palace of thousands of years ago, with the guests arriving in their choice of costume typical to that time period. Diplomats, public figures, dignitaries and representatives from the local and international business communities, as well as Rabbis and Shluchim from different cities in Ukraine, all joined together in full costume to sing, dance and have fun, and, most importantly, to fulfill all four mitzvos of the day.
The evening began with a megillah reading, using a unique, one of a kind illustrated Megillah by a famous American artist, generously on loan by one of the local members of the Jewish community for the occasion, along with a special Hollywood film production telling over the complete story of Purim for the children to watch.
After ritual hand washing to fulfill the second mitzvah of the day, the festive meal, the guests proceeded into the main ballroom to find their places. Once the guests had been seated, they were ready to fulfill the third mitzvah of the day: before starting their meal, everyone was instructed to pick up their appetizer plate, which had been specially designed with at least 2 separate brachot. Each guest was then requested to “gift” their neighbor with their plate and receive their friend’s in return, thereby fulfilling the mitzvah of mishloach manot, gifts of food to a friend. In keeping with tradition, the host went around the table greeting and introducing all the guests in all their different costumes, to the amusement of all the guests.
After the introductions, everyone stood for a special prayer service led by R. Yossi Glick, head of Tzivos Hashem youth movement in Ukraine, for the safety and wellbeing of all the Jews around the world, and in particular in Israel, during these difficult times, as well as a Dvar Torah by Raphael Rutman. For the fourth and last mitzvah of the day, R. Yossi Glick made an appeal to raise money for the Jewish Orphanages in Ukraine. Everyone opened their pockets to give what they could to their young Jewish brothers and sisters in need.
The participants enjoyed a five course meal as well as separate adults’ and childrens’ programs, with the evening filled with singing, dancing, merriment, entertainment and shows.
The highlight was, of course, the annual Purim’s Got Talent Costume Competition, with each and every guest invited to walk down the red carpet while the judges, all well-known local celebrities, scored their costumes. 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners in both Children’s and Adult’s Divisions were chosen, with every single child receiving a prize and all winners receiving beautiful and regal crowns, each presented on a keepsake pillow.
Despite the frigid conditions outside, the party continued until late, with the guests reluctant to leave as Kiev celebrated Purim in true Ancient Persian style.