70 Bar/Bat Mitzvahs Celebrate in S. Petersburg Celebrate


S. PETERSBURG, RUSSIA

June 2, 2004

The Great Choral Synagogue of S. Petersburg hosted a Bar and Bat Mitzva ceremony for about 70 girls and boys from the city's Jewish schools and Family Clubs last week. The event was arranged by the local Jewish community and made possible through the support of the local branch of Joint and the Palm Beach Jewish Federation.

"This celebration might enter the Guinness Book of World Records", said the city's Chief Rabbi Menachem Mendel Pewzner, upon greeting the children. "Your parents couldn't even dare think about obtaining a Jewish education in such festive surroundings." He also reminded the children that this ceremony symbolized their coming of age as Jewish adults. "From now on, you are competent representatives of the Jewish people.”

In a symbolic event on the eve of Shavuot, the boys approached the Torah, while the girls lit their first candles as a sign of the Torah's light.

The young bar and bat mitzvahs had spent weeks of studying the text that was read aloud during the Bar Mitzva ceremony. A website created especially for the ceremony featured personal pages for each of the participating students.

Barely containing their excitement, the children thanked their parents and teachers, and spoke to the guests about the meaning of the Torah in the life of a Jew.

Young children, pupils of the Chabad Cheder, presented each of the participating children with books, A cantorial performance by the synagogue's Chief Cantor Baruch Finkelstein followed. A moving film about Jerusalem brought the event to a dramatic close.

--Courtesy www.fjc.ru

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