Jewish Children Come of Age in the FSU


S.PETERSBURG, RUSSIA

May 25, 2005

In the grand finale of a comprehensive Bar Mitzva project, more than 100 boys and girls celebrated their coming-of-age at a joyous Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebration at the Great Choral Synagogue of S. Petersburg.

Sponsored by S. Petersburg's Beit Chabad and involving most of the Jewish organizations operating in the city, the Bar Mitzvah program drew adolescents who attend Jewish schools and those who attend secular municipal schools. The celebration event topped last year's, both in number and grandeur, which counted 70 bar/bat mitzvahs.

The project began with a seminar designed to prepare the youths for their upcoming Jewish rite-of-passage. "The boys and girls took part in a six-month training course, dedicated to this important event in the life of a Jewish child," explained Rabbi Tzvi Pinski, director of Beit Chabad.

S. Petersburg's Chief Rabbi Menachem Mendel Pewzner congratulated the young guests of honor, and, while presenting each one with a gift, reminded them of their new obligations as full fledged members of the Jewish community. "It is important to participate in communal prayers and in collective activities," explained the Chief Rabbi.

"From now on," said the Chairman of the city's Jewish community, Mark Grubarg, "each of you has to realize your responsibility to the entire Jewish people."

Emotions ran high among the parents, visibly grateful for the opportunity their children had--one that was, of course, denied them under communist rule. Each child presented his or her parents with a gift of flowers.

A similar program took place in Dnepropetrovsk this week, as 37 boys celebrated their bar mitzvas. By now an annual tradition for the city's Jewish community, this year, members of the local community came out to honor the young men, all of whom are students at the Ohr Avner Chabad Day School in the city of Krivoy Rog.

For the first time in their lives, the young boys bound the tefillin in the traditional manner. The Chief Rabbi of Dnepropetrovsk, Shmuel Kaminetsky, the Bar Mitzvah boys, and to their accompanying mentor, Chief Rabbi of Krivoy Rog, Meir Ostrovsky, who prepared them for their Bar Mitzvahs.

"Today, I felt this Jewish community to be my second home," explained Anatoliy Polevoy, one of the boys. "These people are rejoicing at my success and are ready to help each other at any time. Wherever I may be in the future, the Jewish community of Dnepropetrovsk will always remain in my heart," he said.

(fjc.ru)

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