Purim In the Alps


by S. Olidort - LUCERNE, SWITZERLAND

March 21, 2003

Nestled in the geographic heartland of Switzerland, surrounded by the panorama of the Swiss Alps, Lucerne, dubbed “a pearl in the world’s most beautiful oyster” is just an hour’s drive from Zurich. Once home to a thriving Jewish community, Lucerne saw its Jewish population shrink with the passage of time, as observant people moved away from a city that seemed hardly conducive to their lifestyle, leaving the unaffiliated with even less of a connection to tradition and observances.

But in a gesture of renewed interest in Jewish activity and affiliation, more than 150 people, a sizable sum for this tiny community, joined Rabbi Chaim and Rivky Drukman, new Chabad representatives to Lucerne and central Switzerland, for a Purim celebration Monday night. The event took place in a hall in the city’s train station, and featured “A taste of Purim with the flavor of Israel,” the latest Chabad trend in Purim parties. Children arrived in costumes, and the rabbi read the Megillah to a simultaneous slideshow. The couple also addressed the audience, speaking in English and German (Lucerne is located in the German part of Switzerland).

The Drukmans were hired by the chief Chabad emissary to Switzerland, Rabbi Mendel Rosenfeld, at the initiative of members of the local community who requested a Chabad center in Lucerne. “People are very warm and welcoming,” says Rivky. “They are all helping us look for accommodations, all eager to get us comfortably settled here in Lucerne.”

In addition to holiday functions the couple expects to focus on weekly adult education classes and children’s programs. And as the summer season draws near, which means thousands of tourists passing through, the Drukmans are looking forward to reaching a large Jewish contingent of tourists, in this magical city.

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