Purim in Chernigov
Chernigov is a picturesque city in the north of Ukraine. Before it was struck by the twin Hamans of Stalin and Hitler, Chernigov had a thriving Jewish population. It was a Chassidic city, led by illustrious rabbis, and full of a rich Jewish life. Today, Chernigov is still filled with Jews – but many of them do not know it, or if they do, they are not telling. Judaism is something to hide, people feel. They have enough problems trying to put bread on the table, not an easy feat in this former Soviet city.
This past Sunday, the Jews of Chernigov were treated royally. They entered a hall set for royalty and enjoyed a scrumptious feast. There were exhilarating entertainment, games, and prizes, all the while fulfilling the Purim mitzvos. The dancing that spontaneously broke out expressed true happiness. Their souls were pampered while soaking in the proud Jewish atmosphere and good Jewish fun.
Fittingly, the event was masterfully emceed by a prominent figure in the political scene of Chernigov. A Jewish man, Leonid has not attended a Jewish event in over 25 years. This year, he inspired his community, relating Purim’s message to their lives.
Judaism in Chernigov is no longer ancient history. It is alive, and now, a source of pride.