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.

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