Spent a few days this week in Moscow, and my first visit to the city was educational, fascinating and enriching. Found the city to be rich with history, culture and many worthwhile experiences.
A highlight of the trip was better understanding my wifes’ families roots, and heard stories about the travails of the Jewish people, ancient and modern.
Visited the central synagogue of Moscow (The Moscow Choral Synagogue), where my wife’s parents got married in 1970, having traveled overnight from the city of Kharkov, which today is located in the Ukraine. Like so many other Jews of those times, there were few choices for Jews who wanted to be married under a chuppah by a Rabbi.
While there, we heard stories about how the synagogue draws hundreds of people for Shabbat services, and is open seven days a week, hosting prayer services three times a day. They have an active, involved community, with day school, classes and more. What a great tale for a synagogue which for so many years had to indur government harassment and was unable to practice open Judaism. In the lobby today are signs which read “Am Israel Chai”, and items sold in the shul store include Jewish books, art, and religious items. It’s great to see.
Living in New York, when I travel I always try and visit synagogues to see the local Jewish experience. Upon entering the Moscow synagogue, right on the front door one sees a sign proclaiming the shul is the sister synagogue of New York’s Park East Synagogue is tremendously reassuring. What a reaffirmation of the strength and unity of the Jewish people. And to travel so far to see such a sign for this New York/Russian Jewish couple was touching.
No matter what it is, and where we are its a continued lesson that our roots and our people must remain strong. And today, thankfully as the result of course my wife emigrating to America, my Jewish children of a Russian-Jewish mother are proud Jews. As we outlived the Nazis, the German Empire, we also outlived the former USSR and will eternally be proud, strong Jews.
From Moscow: Am Israel Chai! The Jewish people live.
by Ronn Torossian, on Oct 25th, 2013.