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In Kharkov, Ukraine, Purim Offers a Day of ‘Clowning Around’

In Kharkov, Ukraine, Purim Offers a Day of ‘Clowning Around’

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Rabbi Moshe Moskovitz shares the message of Purim with more than 2,000 men, women and children who celebrated “Purim in the Kharkov Circus.'' (Photo: Chabad of Ukraine)
Rabbi Moshe Moskovitz shares the message of Purim with more than 2,000 men, women and children who celebrated “Purim in the Kharkov Circus." (Photo: Chabad of Ukraine)

Despite escalating tensions throughout Ukraine and fears of an all-out invasion from Russia, Purim festivities went on as planned on Sunday. In fact, Jews came out in droves; more than 2,000 men, women and children celebrated “Purim in the Kharkov Circus.”

Sunday was also the day of a controversial referendum, during which Crimeans voted overwhelmingly to reunify with Russia. The Crimean Peninsula has been part of Ukraine since Russia turned it over to the former Soviet republic in 1954.

With that backdrop, the Megillah was read, food gifts known as shalach manot were handed out, and a festive meal was held. And this year, a worldwide effort by Chabad prompted Jews to fulfill the final mitzvah of the holiday—sending matanot l’evyonim, gifts to the poor—to Ukraine to help the dire fiscal straits of the Jews living there.

On the lighter side, folks relaxed a bit in an atmosphere of acrobats, monkeys and bears, and the Or Avner Chabad day school and kindergarten classes put on a Purim schpiel, complete with song and dance.

Hundreds of men and boys also wrapped tefillin—many for the first time—and more than 1,000 Shabbat candles were given out to women and girls.

Olga Chernavskaya, the religious affairs minister of the state of Kharkov, was moved to tears as she addressed the crowd: “We have to learn from the power of strength of the Jewish people to stand together, even in hard times.”

Giving matanot l’evyonim—gifts to the poor—is a key mitzvah on Purim. (Photo: Chabad of Ukraine)
Giving matanot l’evyonim—gifts to the poor—is a key mitzvah on Purim. (Photo: Chabad of Ukraine)

Rabbi Moshe Moskovitz, co-director of Chabad of Kharkov and chief rabbi of the city, recited a prayer for safety and peace in Kharkov in particular, and for Ukraine in general. He encouraged the community to perform mitzvot, emphasizing that the best way to help the instability in the country is by doing good deeds and caring for one another.

Looking over at the impressively large turnout, Moskovitz said that “being here today is a sign that the Jewish people are alive and well, and our heritage will keep us going—no matter where we are and no matter what is happening around us.”

 (Photo: Chabad of Ukraine)
(Photo: Chabad of Ukraine)
 (Photo: Chabad of Ukraine)
(Photo: Chabad of Ukraine)
 (Photo: Chabad of Ukraine)
(Photo: Chabad of Ukraine)
 (Photo: Chabad of Ukraine)
(Photo: Chabad of Ukraine)
 (Photo: Chabad of Ukraine)
(Photo: Chabad of Ukraine)
 (Photo: Chabad of Ukraine)
(Photo: Chabad of Ukraine)
 (Photo: Chabad of Ukraine)
(Photo: Chabad of Ukraine)


By Chabad.org Staff
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