A Venetian Masquerade Ball
Hundreds gathered in the five star Fairmont Grand Hotel in Kiev, Ukraine, to celebrate Purim at a annual masked ball hosted by Chabad activist and businessman R’ Raphael and Devorah Rutman.
The grand ballroom was decorated to look like an elegant Venetian palazzo, with the guests arriving in their choice of costume typical of Carnival in Venice.
Ambassadors, 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 3rd mitzvah of the day: before starting their meal, everyone was instructed to take their appetizer – a floating gondola plate – specially designed with at least 2 separate brachot- and “gift” it to their neighbor with their plate, 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 Rabbi 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.
Israel’s Ambassador to Ukraine, Mr. Eli Belotzerkovsky, then addressed the crowd, speaking about the importance of standing up to the Hamans of the 21st century. For the 4th and last mitzvah of the day, Rabbi 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 and Venetian Carnival 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 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 Venetian mask trophies.
The party continued until late, with the guests reluctant to leave as Kiev celebrated Purim in true style.