Photos: Levi Nazarov
It’s been nearly 16 years now that the children davening at the Marina Roscha shul in central Moscow are part of something very special.
On Friday nights and Shabbos morning they have been joining the “Chevra Tefilla” and on Shabbos afternoons the “Chevra Tehillim.” The children sit together and daven beautifully, savoring every word, along with their devoted counselors.
These programs were founded by the shul’s gabbai, and over the years hundreds of children davened there intensely and made a tremendous Kiddush Hashem on thousands of shul attendees and many guests.
This year the gabbais decided to take it up one notch higher. They arranged a special Hakhel gathering on Chol Hamoed with the participation of Russia’s Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar, who has been handing out prizes in shul to the outstanding daveners.
The highlight of this Hakhel would be the special bracha on flowering trees which is only said during the month of Nissan.
The gathering took place in Moscow’s Botanical Gardens which were established by the Russian Czar 310 years ago. He could never have imagined that the day will come when dozens of Jewish children would stand proudly in the center of his gardens and loudly proclaim this special blessing.
The gathering began with a letter of appreciation to the park’s director, who so graciously allowed the gabbais to set up a special dais near the flowering trees, and extended free entrance to all of the Hakhel’s participants.
The Chief Rabbi then spoke to the children about how important it is to learn from the flowering trees, and encouraged them to continue striving in both their davening and Tehillim on Shabbos, wherever they may be.
The Hakhel included Torah, Tefilla and Tzedaka, with the entire crowd saying Tehillim together and giving coins to Tzedaka.
After that, the children heard fascinating stories and divrei Torah about this mitzva in Eretz Yisroel from the noted educator and teacher, Rabbi Mordechai Horvitz who came from the Holy Land.
When the official part of the gathering was over, the children were treated to a grand tour of the gardens where they strolled along magical, winding pathways and magnificent waterfalls. They also visited the tropical gardens, which house many plants that have become extinct. This really opened the children’s eyes to how wonderful are Hashem’s creations and how pleasurable they are to us.