Saturday, December 15, 2012

Chanukah Lighting at your Home

Chanukah at home

People have been sending in photos of themselves lighting Menorah at home

It is very special to see the light of Chanukah reaching everyone in their homes

The youth went to visit people and personally light Menorah with them

Keep scrolling down for some more beautiful pictures of the light of Chanukah lighting up the entire Chernigov

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

HOT! - Chanukah Miracle Contest

Take a picture of yourself lighting Menorah for an entry into a raffle for a tablet computer.

Each night = 1 more picture = 1 more raffle ticket

Monday, December 10, 2012

Chanukah - Night 1!

 Climbing up. . . 

 A light in the darkness

 Spontaneous dancing

"I can almost reach the top. . ."

Friday, October 19, 2012

A Tefillin Wrap-Up

Walk into the synagogue in Chernigov, or any place where you may find a Jewish man, and chances are that you will see him clutching his precious pair of tefillin. Within the past two weeks, an additional 7 Jews have joined the Tefillin club, and are now donning tefillin daily. In a beautiful display of brotherly love that reaches across divides of the ocean, culture, and language, Chabad of Long Island City, NY, led by Rabbi Zev Wineberg, generously sponsored tefillin for those who can't afford to buy their own pair. The men were thrilled to receive their tefillin. One man proudly cradled his tefillin as if it were a baby. Another called a friend to convince him to start donning tefillin as well, explaining how many blessings he has seen in his personal life since he committed to this daily mitzvah. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Sukkah Party!

 Simchas Bais Hashuava in Chernigov was the place to be, especially if one happened to be under 30. The youth club organized a dynamic program, complete with music, delicious food and interactive games. They competed against other youth groups all over Ukraine for the best event, and the unbiased consensus in this city, judging by the reactions and involvement of the participants, was that Chernigov won. The excitement and joy it generated (see video!) was palpable in the sukkah, as the farbrengen lasted until 2:00 in the morning.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Pure Nachas

The children of Preschool Chai put on an adorable presentation in honor of the new year. As they danced and sang about Judaism and the holidays, the eyes of the audience teared up. The children were so excited to live and to teach the Judaism they are learning. One mother remarked that she never had a chance to learn about Jewish life; now, her little daughter is bringing the traditions into their home. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A New Year at the Red Square

Rosh Hashana. A new year, a new start. For the Jews located in Chernigov, Rosh Hashana was also a mark of pride of their Jewish identity. An overflow crowd of 150 came to a beautiful holiday meal in the elegant restaurant ‘Okian’, located in the central square of Chernigov. 30 years ago, attendees remarked, blowing the shofar in our “red square” was not even they would dream about. Today, many local Jews are still breaking through the Soviet mentality of hiding their Judaism. Yet this Rosh Hashana, they were able to see that Judaism can, indeed, be displayed proudly.  Our guests, Rabbi Mendel Duchman and his son J.J., inspired the community with their fiery enthusiasm for Judaism and love for all Jews.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Bar Mitzvah Celebration with a Wedding Theme

Shavuos in Chernigov

Chernigov, Ukraine - This past Sunday, Jews the world over celebrated a wedding – our bond with G-d as we received the Torah anew for the 3,324th time. In Chernigov, we celebrated not only a meaningful wedding between man and G-d, but we were privileged to have two Bar Mitzvahs as well.

Before the holiday, a flurry of phone calls, flyers, and text messages were sent out, inviting all to reading of the Ten Commandments and an ice cream party. The children, especially, were excited to participate in the special children’s program. They insisted on coming to the synagogue, bringing their parents with them. Among the attendees were two Jewish fathers, entering the synagogue for the first time in their lives! The men were inspired to join in the crowd of 80 as part of the minyan, and enjoyed a meaningful prayer service.    Then, they were called up to the Torah to receive their very first Aliyas.

The children thoroughly enjoyed an action-packed program of games and learning. They competed in a mitzvah quest to find all the 10 commandments, were challenged to answer questions and receive a key to a locked gift, and were reminded to follow the Torah. Long after the program finished, the children continued to play the Jewish-themed games.

Following the services, all moved outside for a beautiful Kiddush and mouthwatering spread, set up by devoted volunteers. The food was plentiful and tasty. The highlight, for the young and young at heart, was the ice cream bar. Kosher ice cream was brought in especially from Donetsk, almost 1000 kilometers away. All received a heaping bowl of ice cream, which they proceeded to decorate with a colorful array of tempting toppings.  The consensus was that the kosher ice cream was absolutely scrumptious. The Bar Mitzvah ‘boys’ made lechaims, committing to move forward in their Jewish observance.
Shavuos in Chernigov. Meaningful. Inspiring. Fun. Above all, delicious. What could be better?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Sailing Against the Tide - A Ukrainian River Adventure

Lag Bomer in Chernigov, Ukraine

The graceful ship docked at the port, and, as each smiling child got off, it was evident on his face just what this cruise meant to him.

It was the end of a wildly successful Lag Bomer event in Chernigov, Ukraine – a trip down the Desna River.

As the ship began its journey, we sailed against the tide. Fighting, against the odds to make Judaism relevant to the modern, post-Soviet era, Chernigov Jew. We welcomed children, their parents, grandparents and friends on board, for an afternoon of fun and Judaism.

One hundred Jewish men, women, and children enjoyed the view and soaked in the atmosphere. They joined in the games, enjoyed the music and the delicious refreshments. Perhaps the most fun part of the trip was to watch the children, the college students, and best of all, the seniors competing in games and acting out themes of Lag Bomer. All joined in a rally of Jewish pride, and the energy brought about by saying the 12 pesukim was palpable.

As our ship sailed back to the port, you could almost hear the thoughts swirling around people’s heads. Yes, they seemed to be saying, Judaism is alive, real, and for ‘normal people’ too. They were ready to take the plunge and become more active in Jewish life. The current was now with us.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Here he is!

Baby Chaim in all his finery

A note from little Chaim:

In exactly 8 days, I am going on a very, very long journey, all the way to a far-away country called Ukraine. I will really try hard to be a good boy and not cry the entire plane ride. We can inspire and touch our fellow Jews only with your help. Please would you make a donation in my honor?

With love,
Chaim, 11 days old