Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Chernigov Chanukah

Young  and old are involved

Having a blast

The Military Orchestra

A Chanukah Drama

Booth #1 at the fair

Our own, one-and-only, stash of gold, the 'Goldener Menner' choir performing their old Yiddish classics

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Rosh Hashanah report

Here is our Rosh Hashanah report:

We have 2 Rabbinical students here to help infuse the community with Holiday energy and atmosphere.
Interestingly enough, one of them is Netanel. I met him originally in Kiev, where he was learning Smicha - Rabbinical ordination, and on my last trip to France, we met again, and he graciously volunteered to come to come to Chernigov for Holidays.

The first night of Rosh Hashana, we had Tefilot, followed by a light Kiddush with the holiday symbols. It was attended by 40 people, some of them in synagogue for the first time!

For the holiday dinner we hosted in our home different Jewish dignitaries who enjoyed themself until midnight!

For the first day, we had about 50 people for the tefilot, again followed by a light kiddush.

In the evening, we has a large community meal with shofar blowing, Tashlich, and a special children's program. It was attended by 70 people, including youth.

We also visited Jews who could not leave their work to blow shofar for them there.
The first day of the Holiday alone, we walked about 17-18 Km.

The second day attendance was a bit lower - about 25-30 people

For Shabbat, even after two full days of holidays, we over 20 men in the synagogue (and more ladies)!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Happy New Year from Chernigov

Wishing you a Shana Tova u'Mituka!
Rabbi Yisroel & Aliza Silberstein
Chernigov, Ukraine 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

About Us

A  blog about life in the Jewish Community of Chernigov (Chernihiv), Ukraine.

On the eve of the Communist revolution, 30% of the population of Chernigov was Jewish. It was a thriving Jewish community with many synagogues, Jewish schools, yeshivas, and a mikvah. Both the 5th and the 6th Chabad Rebbes personally came to Chernigov to facilitate the community affairs. The chief rabbi of Chernigov was the famed goan R’ Dovid Tzvi Chein.

The Community:
Chernigov has approximately 5000 Jews. Jewish life is lead by the devoted community president Semyon Belman and Rabbi Silberstein.

The Silbersteins:
Rabbi Yisroel and Aliza Silberstein moved to Chernigov with their family in 2009. Their 3 children, Mendel, Baila and Chaya are dedicated to looking after the younger members of the community.

The Chernigov region is a strategic point between the capital of Ukraine and the borders of Belarus and Russia. Within the Chernigov region, just 90 kilometers from Chernigov, is the tzion of the 2nd Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Dovber. Many people have had wondrous blessings after praying at his kever, and we feel
that he is personally looking out for the Jewish community of Chernigov.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

This Sweet Torah

The kosher ice cream,a once a year production, was sent to us all the way from Donetsk on the other side of the country. It was carefully kept in the freezer for the past month. Allen, who runs an ice-cream bar, graciously got things set up.

A crowd of 60 gathered, and anticipation built as they waited for the desserts.

The Torah was read, and people were thrilled to get aliyahs. The 10 commandments were read to a fascinated audience, some of whom had never been in synagogue before.

Then, everyone made their way downstairs where a delicious dessert buffet was set up. The fruit, homemade cakes, and of course, ice creams and various toppings were thoroughly enjoyed by all. The kids especially loved tasting all the kosher sweets.

May the message and the sweetness of the Torah seep in to us and stay with us all year round.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

STARS TV - Live!

A new program has begun in Chernigov, changing the face of Torah learning here.

This past Sunday, the Jewish Community of Chernigov premiered a showing of "STARS TV", a multimedia learning presentation. 

 The event was well attended, by youth and older community members alike, and the audience was absolutely fascinated.

The show opened with a clip of popular Chassidic reggae star Matisyahu singing his hit song "Jerusalem". The rest of the class, moving at a fast pace, focused on Jerusalem, Israel, Abraham, and Hebrew language.

At the request of the viewers, the video was paused every few minutes for a fascinating discussion analyzing the historical and practical applications of the lesson.

The reactions of the crowd were perhaps summed up best by participant Vladimir S.* "Can we expect to watch a class like this each week?" He asked incredulously.
"No", he was answered with smile. "Next week it will be even better."
The smiles that broke out on the faces around the room proved the success of the class. 

*Names have been changed to protect privacy.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Bright smiles under the blue Ukrainian sky

Sounds of music, combined with laughter, giggles, and excited shouts, were heard from Krupskoy 48, a scenic wooded area and second home to the Jewish children in Chernigov, the Or Avner Educational Complex.

This past Sunday, Jewish children and families gathered for a rally of Jewish unity and Torah.

Then, with palpable pride, they paraded through the streets of Chernigov.  

  The children and the parents were then treated to an afternoon of unbelievable activities, carnival, limousine rides and a moon bounce. 

  The delicious barbecue and picnic was polished off.

Every person present received an amazing door prize - a day pass at the Gor Sad amusement park, and beautiful new book teaching Hebrew through Tehillim.

The smiles on the faces of the Jews of Chernigov looked like were permanently glued on. Everyone went home with memories, and a sense of Jewish pride that will last a lifetime.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Lag B'omer Celebration Invitation

Lag B'omer in Chernigov!


a Barbecue Picnic

This Sunday at 11 AM

At the grounds of the Jewish school, 48 Krupskoy St.

See you there!

Or, if you unfortunately don't live in the vicinity, stay tuned for pictures.

Thank you to Avner for the beautiful flyer

Saturday, May 14, 2011

All Because of a Bag: A Story

It was a frosty Tuesday morning, and I was on my way to the synagogue. Things had held me up at home, and I left the house some time later than usual.

Out of the corner of my eye, a noticed a couple walking. The bag they were holding got my attention: It was covered in Hebrew writing.

I introduced myself, and, it transpired, that this couple had lived in Israel for a long time. They returned to Chernigov when the husband's father became ill. He passed away after some time, but their son was comfortable in Chernigov and did not want to return to Israel. They remained in Chernigov, visiting Israel from time to time.

They were thrilled to meet, and we talked about the Jewish opportunities here: children's programing, synagogue, classes.

I told them that this meeting really was divinely inspired, as I usually am out walking much earlier. It was only because I noticed the bag, I told them, that I approached them.

"I was not planning on taking the bag today", replied Michael, the husband. "In fact, I had already left the house without it. On second thought, though, on my wife's urging, I went back in to get it."

Sometimes even a plastic bag can be G-d's messenger.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Pesach in Chernigov - a Huge Success

The crowd in the hall looked at the door expectantly, as they waited for Eliyahu the prophet to visit the seder, as he does to each Jewish home on the seder night.

And then, from the back of the room, came "Eliyah Hanavi".  A gasp rose up in the room as people began to recognize a community member dressed in a long robe. The haggadah became alive to the seder participants. They began to shout of their requests for a good year, asking for happiness, peace, and spirituality.

It was a touching end to a beautiful seder, enjoyed by 150 participants in the restaurant Khutorok. Between seder plates, the four questions, reading of the haggadah, and stories, the seder was a huge success.

~ ~

The last few hours of Pesach is an opportune time for the coming of Moshiach. At the closing of Pesach this year, the Chernigov community, and especially the youth, gathered for a "Moshiach Seudah", or Meal of Moshiach.

The inspiration was palpable as the guests tried to hold on to the holiday for just a little longer. The singing went on for a long time, as people enjoyed the last of the Pesach salads, matza, and wine. Pesach finally ended, but the inspiration and positive resolutions will remain forever.

May we merit to spend next Pesach in Jerusalem with Moshiach!

Friday, April 15, 2011


Форма для продажи хамеца онлайн
Sell Your Chametz Online


1. Еврей, во владении которого к моменту начала Песаха остался хамец, каждое мгновение нарушает сразу два запрета Торы (см. выше, 105:1), а сам этот хамец навеки становится запретным для какого бы то ни было использования, даже если этот еврей перед Песахом совершил битуль хамец (отказ от хамеца). Поэтому тот, кто владеет хамецом в таком количестве, что, в случае уничтожения его перед Песахом, понесет большие убытки, обязан продать его нееврею на все время праздника.
Подчеркнем, что процедура продажи хамеца нееврею носит отнюдь не символический характер, а является настоящим юридическим актом, к которому следует относиться со всей серьезностью.
Продающий хамец обязан сказать себе: «Этот хамец более не принадлежит мне, и я не имею на него никаких прав». Продажа хамеца — весьма непростая операция, требующая досконального знания соответствующих разделов Галахи, поэтому ее совершают только при посредничестве авторитетного раввина.
2. Продажу хамеца невозможно совершить в канун Песаха позднее окончания 5-го солнечного часа (потому что затем вступает в силу запрет извлекать из хамеца какую бы то ни было пользу, а следовательно, и продавать его). Поэтому необходимо сделать это пораньше, чтобы у раввина, который осуществляет продажу хамеца в качестве доверенного лица всех евреев города, осталось достаточно времени для продажи хамеца нееврею.
3. Вместе с хамецом принято также продавать всю посуду и кухонные принадлежности, которые в течение года соприкасались с ним. По окончании праздника окунать их в воды миквы не нужно.
4. При продаже хамеца заполняют соответствующий бланк раввината, куда вписывают свое имя и полный адрес. Желательно также указать, где находится продаваемый хамец и предметы, которые продаются вместе с ним. При передаче этого бланка раввину или доверенному лицу, который отнесет бланк в раввинат, принято совершать т. н. «киньян» (букв. приобретение) — поднимают и опускают какой-либо предмет (например, платок), передают его раввину или доверенному лицу, и тот тоже поднимает и опускает его. Согласно Галахе, киньян необходим при совершении какой-либо сделки, поскольку означает, что обе стороны пришли к окончательному решению и не отступятся от принятых на себя обязательств.
5. Проданный хамец следует запереть в отдельной комнате или отдельном шкафу, а ключ — спрятать. Если комнатой, где находится хамец, придется пользоваться в течение праздника, следует поставить внутри нее устойчивую перегородку (которая не стала бы колыхаться при ветре) высотой не менее 80 см, чтобы отделить хамец от остальной части комнаты. Туда же складывают и все остальные предметы, проданные на время Песаха.
6. Теоретически после окончания Песаха хамецом можно пользоваться спустя час-два после захода солнца, когда раввины выкупят у нееврея проданный ему перед Песахом хамец. Однако принято полагаться на то, что из года в год эта процедура происходит без всяких помех, и потому брать хамец и проданные вещи для использования сразу после «цет а-кохавим» (появления звезд).
7. Некоторые хасиды хранят какую-либо еду или напитки, полученные ими от своего ребе. Если эти продукты содержат хамец, их принято съедать или выпивать перед праздником, а не продавать нееврею.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

A Purim Turn-Around Miracle

The year: 1988. The place: Siberia, Russia. The setting: The mess hall in a Soviet army camp. The room is simply built, made of cement, walls are painted a light green. The floor too, is made of cement, and painted gray. The room is filled with chairs, upon which sit 140 soldiers,chatting amongst each other as they wait for their commander to speak.

Among these soldiers was Vladimir*, an 18 year old Jewish man from Chernigov, a city then part of the Soviet Union, today in the Ukraine. Vladimir was relaxing with the other soldiers, waiting for the pep talk. As he waited, he thought of home, his family left behind, his mother's cooking, and the green trees that lined the streets of his home town. 

Vladimir was jolted out of his daydream as the commander call him up to the front of the room. 

The commander called for attention, and the room became silent. He began his speech, using Vladimir as a live example.

"A Jewish Jew (Israeli) is an embarrassment to the world", he announced. "A Russian Jew is a terrible person. But worst of all", he finished, pointing to Vladimir, "is a Ukrainian Jew."

Years passed. Vladimir finished his army service, the Soviet Union collapsed. Vladimir returned home, began to work, became a successful partner of a large firm. 

And he never forgot the lesson his commander drilled into him that day. He is Jewish, through no fault of his own, but that is a real shame. The best plan of action would be to forget about his religion. Barring his ability to forget it, he should hide it, pretend that the fact doesn't exist, stay as far from it as possible. 

Despite his best intentions, Vladimir has been unable to ignore the pulling of his Jewish soul. He has put on tefillin for the first time, been inspired by Torah reading in the synagogue, and readily offers his help with community affairs. Still, the embarrassment remained. So now he began to enjoy being Jewish, but that booming voice in the back of his head wouldn't leave him alone "Worst of all is a Ukrainian Jew"

On Purim, Vladimir walked into the hall where the Purim party was held. He stood by the door for a few moments, taking in the scene. The room was packed, decorated with balloons, and most telling of all were the smiles on the faces filling the room. For the first time in his life, Yuri felt proud to be a Jew.

A few minutes later, Vladimir stood up to make a lechaim. Once again, he stood in front of 140 people. This time, however, he stood with pride as he made a lechaim to the continuity of the Jewish people.

*Name and identifying details have been changed.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A Taste of Pesach

Experience the Exodus from Slavery to Freedom

A royal seder atmosphere:
4 Cups Kosher wine
Pesach Haggadah
Handmade Shmura Matza


Design by Avner SB of Chernigov

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Preschool Purim

For 2 months, the children of our preschool have been diligently practicing for their performance in honor of Purim.

 It was held on Shushan Purim, and it truly was amazing thing to be part of. 

It was hard to believe that this was taking place in the Former Soviet Union. In fact, many of the parents don't know anything about Judaism, and their children are eagerly teaching them. 

 The children were so excited to be there, celebrating the holiday. 

The looks on their faces as they proudly sang, danced and played to the theme of Purim was just precious. 

The parents were, of course, super proud of their children. 

They even got involved and played their own game, with the kids cheering them on. 

 All in all, it was a huge success, and parents and children alike are looking forward to the next performance.