By Rebecca Shapiro (BA/MA)
It is with great sadness that I write this blog, knowing that it is our last night in Moscow. The past four days have been a remarkable experience that exposed us to the breadth of Jewish life in Moscow and the community’s commitment to supporting both individuals and institutions. We are gratful for the phenomenal hospitality received from the Jewish community here.
On Friday night we enjoyed a dinner coordinated by the e-club, short for ‘ivrim’ club. This Jewish club brings together post-college age members of the community to share in Shabbat dinners, holiday parties, learning and philanthropy. During the dinner I was struck by the words of one woman in the group. She told a story of an encounter in Israel with a man that looked familiar. She asked him where she might know him from, and he responded “You don’t remember? We met thousands of years ago at the foot of Sinai. Every Jew was there, you must remember.” These powerful words reminded each of us of our connection to Jews throughout the world. Jews throughout the world may practice or observe Judaism differently, yet despite these differences we share a powerful common history. Sitting in the Choral Synagogue on Shabbat morning, I was once again reminded of this concept, as members of the community invited us into their homes for Shabbat lunches and attempted to set us up with their sons, simply because we are Jewish. We share one powerful connection, our past.
During our trip to Moscow we visited incredible institutions such as a Jewish orphanage, Gan Chama- a Jewish Childcare center, a budding Reform community, and the Chabad and Nikitskaya Jewish Community Centers. Each location had a profound impact on the group. Prior to the trip, each of us read Gal Beckerman’s When They Come For Us We’ll Be Gone: The Epic Struggle of Soviet Jewry, which discussed the history of the Jewish communities in Russia, and their fight to remain Jewish. The community is able to thrive today as a result of organizations like those listed above that are committed to connecting Jews throughout Moscow.
Just as the community reached out to us because of our shared history, this trip has showed me how I can support and partner with the remarkable Moscow community. I will never forget the faces of the children in the Jewish orphanage, who live a well-adjusted and happy life as a result of the loving support of their community. I am struck by the Moscow Jews and will forever feel a connection to them, as we once stood together at Sinai.