Are Coming - To Shul In Brighton Beach
October 18, 1991
by Ira Nosenchuk
not as frequently as we would like to see them, the Russians
are coming in great numbers to services during the High
Holy Days, and this year, they came also to rejoice on Succos.
Well over 1,000 people jammed into the Hebrew Alliance of
Brighton Beach during this past Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
This is certainly a remarkable accomplishment considering
the facts that they have had no religious freedom, are lacking
a Jewish educational background, and have been isolated,
as a group, from anything Jewish during the past 75
The Hebrew Alliance, under Rabbi David B, Hollander's enthusiastic
guidance, in partnership with Friends of Refugees from Eastern
Europe (F.R.E.E.) under the leadership of Rabbi Hershel
Okunov from Lubavitoh, arranged a High Holiday program which
included the inspirational chazanut of a Russian born
cantor - Abraham Presman brought over from Eretz Yisroel,
and explanations and instructions given during the services,
by Russian speaking emissaries from Lubavitch. Every space
and seat in the main shul was filled, and many, many more
stood in the back of the synagogue as well as on a flight
of stairs reaching to the street.
The crowd was attentive and responded enthusjastically to
Rabbi Hollander's inspiring sermons, A synopsis of Rabbi
Hollander's sermons was translated into Russian by Cantor
Pressman and Rabbi Okunov. They contributed to the appeal
for "Operation Exodus," for the resettlement of
Russian and Ethiopian Jewry in Israel. The Hebrew Alliance
gave up its customary Yizkor appeal for its own maintenance
in favor of the "Operation Exodus" appeal.
The Hebrew Alliance, in conjunction with F.R.E.E., operates
programs for Russian Jewry throughout the year. This includes
classes and Shabbos services followed each week by an elaborate
Kiddush. It is hoped that through this program more and
more Russians will attend services regularly and become
more interested in Yiddishkeit, more observant, and more
interested in sending their children to yeshivos and other
During Succos, following the services in shul, the Jews
from Russia - some here only a few weeks - were served by
F.R.E.E. in the spacious succah set up in the shul yard.
Simchas Torah was most uplifting to all who danced for hours
with the Sifrei Torah. To the Jews from Russia, this joy
of the Torah was a new chapter of their lives. There were
many tearful comments, too numerous to list here, but one
that cannot be omitted, came from a man in his early 50s
who said that he had been a leading pilot in the Russian
Air Force, but all his flying could not compare to the heights
he reached when, for the first time in his life he danced,
in the company of other Jews, with the Torah.
F.R.E.E. holds Friday night and Shabbos services every week.
All Jews, especially those who are from Russia and who live
within walking distance are invited to attend. The Hebrew
Alliance has given its choicest facilities to the Russian
minyan and for this, our collective appreciation is due
to the officers of the Hebrew Alliance, under the leadership
of Mr. Shmuel Kohn, Chairman and Mr. Paul Samuels, Treasurer.
We heartily welcome our brothers and sisters from Russia.
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