|KGB File photo of R' Mendel Schneersohn, Rav of Chernigov|
Many difficult years pass for the orphaned Jews of Chernigov. Communism, Nazism, forced assimilation. Miraculously, against all odds, 5,000 Jews survive. Jewish, as clearly stamped in their passports, but ignorant of Jewish traditions.
March 8, 2013. Three trucks pull up at the Chernigov Jewish Community Center. They deliver their precious cargo: 3300 pounds of Matza, to nourish the souls and spirits of the hungry Jews of Chernigov, Ukraine.
Once, the hearts of Chernigov’s Jews were filled with fear. Today, that fear is replaced with pride, and a yearning for Judaism, as Jewish souls connect to their heritage.
This year, two seders were held in Chernigov, filled to capacity with 150 attendees. Hanging on the wall was a purple banner, with gold letters announcing “Oshutiti Nastoyashuyu Svobodu” – Experience True Freedom.
Indeed, for the Jews of Chernigov, Pesach symbolized real freedom - physical freedom from the Communist oppression, and the freedom of immersing themselves in their rich heritage.