As puzzled non-Jewish residents observed the commotion all week long, Rostov’s only Sukkah was packed with guests. The whole community shared in the Sukkah through special programs and activities geared towards every age group.
On the first day of Chol Hamoed children gathered for snacks and games in the Sukkah and then headed out to a park near the Don River where they enjoyed fun Sukkos arts- and- crafts projects, activities, and horseback riding.
The following day over 60 Jewish seniors gathered in the Sukkah for a festive afternoon meal and Sukkos program that included a choir performance by members of the Jewish Seniors Club.
That evening a Farbrengen was held for 25 important members of the community. Many resolutions were made for the coming year, including a special initiative to import kosher meat from Moscow and distribute it to members of the community.
On the last night of Chol Hamoed, over 70 college- aged students and young professionals gathered for an exciting Sukkos program. They enjoyed pizza, a competitive Sukkos contest, music, and socializing. For many of them this was their first time fulfilling the mitzvah of Lulav and Esrog and sitting in a Sukkah. Rabbi Chaim Danzinger shared a story of Sukkos and elaborated on the significance of this Yom Tov, encouraging everyone to become more involved in Judaism.
Simchas Torah was the highlight of Yom Tov, with spirited dancing going on well into the night. The Jewish community of Rostov joined many Chabad houses around the world in dedicating a Hakafah in memory of Daniel Pearl HY”D.
During kiddush on Simchas Torah, an older member of the community spoke about the contrast between Jewish Rostov today and during the communist era. He described how during Soviet times, Simchas Torah in Russia was the most exciting Jewish Yom Tov of the year. Despite the danger, people would dance in the streets outside shul because the shul was so overcrowded. He recalled how one year, in 1968, the government didn’t want any dancing outside so they sent large trucks to circle the block ensuring no one would be able to dance in the streets. Yet now, so many years later, Jews can once again dance freely and proudly outside with the Torah!
With the spiritual high of the ‘high’ Holidays still in the air, the community enters an exciting new year filled with hope, optimism and great plans for Jewish residents of Rostov.