KIEV PURIM 2002
Last Sunday of February, on the 12th of Adara, the day before Purim's eve, the "Ukraine" Palace which is traditionally rented by the common efforts of the different Jewish organizations opened wide cordially the doors and the curtains before the masquerade's and Purimshpil's fancy. In foyer the boys wearing the skullcaps were proposing to fill in the lottery tickets that promised to win domestic electric appliances in Brodskiy's Synagogue. Among the dozens of khesed's active clients the youth covered with the transparencies informing of Gigel's disposition was running about. Clowns were juggled and invited children to play.
The actions of the Jewish Agency occupied almost the whole first floor. A frilly robust young man at the stairs was giving out to newcomers the rattles and hooters getting them from a big sack. There was a quiz conducted by a fellow in glasses whose face is well-known for most newspaper's attentive readers by the rubric "Every question has an answer, every situation has a way out". Everyone could hear in the hall: "Who was the Prime-Minister in Israel in the 90-s? No, not Peres! What is the biggest city in Israel? No, not Tel-Aviv!"
The famous Hebrew teacher in Kiev dressed in angel's suit drove the bowling recklessly on the same floor. A prize could win everyone who hit the bottle with soda by the ball made from Israeli newspapers and adhesive tape. There were a few children wearing fancy dresses. Boys with the noses and masks from foam-rubber they had won in competition prevailed. Perhaps the most noticeable was a boy in musketeer's suit with the cross on his cape. Juvenile circus actresses demonstrated ductile mastery and calisthenics between the floors. Finally the guests were invited guests into the hall. This invitation was heard twice before all the people entered and took their places, like in theatre. Anatoliy Shengite and Chernovitskiy Jewish Orchestra started the performance. Then Yaakov Dov Bleich appeared and congratulated the people. As usually he made a brilliant display of his excellent knowledge of the Ukrainian language and surprised the audience by having invited his friend... Chief Rabbi of Kiev Moshe-Reuven Asman to the stage. The respectable rabbis embraced in public.
Rabbi Bleich invited the audience to celebrate Purim in the restituted synagogue situated on the territory of the "Transsignal" plant. He stressed that today there are several places in Kiev where you may read "Megilat Ester". He mentioned new Aman in the person of Arafat and added emotionally "Im'ah shmo ushem zihro" without taking interest whether the tie would suit him. Then the head of the "Sokhnut" delegation Alex Katz entered the stage and thanked all for solidarity during this not simple for Israel time. At the end of the first part of the holiday there was Purimshpil and songs about Mordehai's wisdom and Ester's smile.
The second part of the holiday presented to the audience KVN and the welcome with Klara Novikova. Then Rabbi Moshe Asman disguised as Brezhnev together with Tsvi Kaplan as Andropov entered the stage. Rabbi Asman invited "the Chief Rabbi of the Persian empire"... his friend Bleich to the stage. After that he called the leader of the "movable property" Agency Alex Katz...
Alexander Levenbook from old good "Radionyanya" and Evgeniy Valevich with dance tricks cheered the audience during the third evening part of the holiday. The tired schoolboys showed the morning Purimshpil again.
The next day the Galitsk synagogue was preparing for the reading of "Megilat Ester". To tell the truth it was for the first time for the parish to go through the plant's checkpoint on their way to ceremonies. We can say paraphrasing the remarkable song from the movie "Spring in Zarechnaya Street":I don't want another fate,
I will barter it for nothing
The checkpoint of my plant
That took me out to Purim!
Perhaps, it was also for the first time for the guards to let pass the hasids in shtraimls with paces on the territory of the plant. The children were mainly disguised as Israeli soldiers and armed with toy guns. There were almost 150 people in the hall and about 100 on the balcony, when Rabbi Bleich started reading the Ester's Scroll. The most educated people took part in the reading following the text in the prayer books. The rest listened with intelligent look and periodically joined the rattles' crack, guns' volleys and all that noise that the children boomed at every mentioning of villain's name from Amalek's progeny. Ionatan Markovich, the principle of the "Or-Avner" school, brought "Megilat Ester" in a special tubule and in expensive parchment. He watched the prayer with the help of it together with Alic Nadan from the Embassy.
At the same time we should note how baldly the building looks, in which the synagogue of famous Kiev Evbaz was in former times...
There is a memorial board fixed in honor of the centenary of "Transsignal" on the building next door. There is a letter of the happy workpeople of stagnation's epoch behind it, which is addressed to the bright future and should be opened in 2025. I wonder what this place will look like by that time...
Chief executive of Kiev city Jewish community Anatoliy Shengait reported the following to the "Jewish Observer" about the plans connected with the synagogue:
- Now the Religious Jewish community of Vatutinskiy district which is a part of the Association of Jewish Religious Organizations of Ukraine works in the building. Besides, the Association has proposed to use this building also for the needs of the Kiev city Jewish community having transferred the communal center "Makor" into it. The center stopped prematurely its existence in Gorodetskiy Street. Certainly the youth club in the synagogue needs the new concept. Perhaps some kind of activities will be inappropriate here, the others connected with the history and tradition have to be developed. We would like to open an art studio for Jewish children. There are also some other ideas. We have two perspective partners - "Joint" and "Sokhnut". They are ready to help us. Anatoliy Shengait told in detail about the unprecedented cooperation of different Jewish organizations which was shown in "Ukraine" Palace.
-We proposed to all powerful Jewish organizations which are able to rent the festive hall themselves to come together under one roof. The KCJC fulfilled the unifying function. Our representatives had coordinated all the questions with other organizations and established the fund. Our friends from "Sohnut", "Joint" and Jewish Cultural Center helped us greatly with money.
"Khesed Avot" in cooperation with the Vaad helped our guests from Kiev region to visit the morning holiday. The representatives of HaBaD-Lubavich from Brodskiy's synagogue had invited Klara Novikova and KVN teams who appeared on the stage in the daytime. Our organization was responsible for the evening show. As a result 11 hundred people have visited the "Ukraine" Palace during the day.
Chief Rabbi of Kiev and Ukraine Yaakov Dov Bleich called the reading of "Megilat Ester" in Galitskaya synagogue on February 25 a historical event because it was for the first time for the last 70 years.
In newspaper Bleich thanked the President of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma, the Prime-Minister Anatoliy Kinah and Minister of transport Valeriy Pustovoitenko owing to whom the restitution of the synagogue to the Jewish community became possible.
Yaakov Dov Bleich said that the historical name "Beis Yakov" will be given back to Galitskaya synagogue. Our reporter asked whether the noticeable cooperation among the Jewish Organizations in realization of the holiday in "Ukraine" Palace was valid for one occasion only. But Yakov Dov Blaich answered:
- No, it's a tendency. We are improving the coordination and cooperation between Jewish organizations in Kiev and we also hope that they will develop steadily.
Photo by the author