Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

11 October 2016. Yom Kippur Begins at Sundown Tonight



Yom Kippur, one of the holiest days in the Jewish Year, begins tonight at sundown. If your Jewish friends need a hand today… give it! Run an errand, watch the kids, walk the dog… whatever that they might need on this hectic day for them. It’s what decent people do… tomorrow, give ’em the space to honour their day of repentance. That’s the best gift that you can give them.


Friday, 3 October 2014

3 October 2014. Yom Kippur … Holiest Day for Jews, Begins at Sundown

Yom Kippur


Yom Kippur is Holy Friday, Holy Week, and Lent rolled into one… on one day! Don’t bug your Jewish friends… they’re supposed to be reflecting and meditating on their sins. They’ll be breaking the Yom Kippur fast tomorrow at sundown… then, it’s copacetic to visit them and bring a gift or two. This is like Easter for them… it’s the most important day of their religious year. Give ’em the space to honour it. That’s the best gift that you can give them.


Saturday, 8 October 2011

Rav Lazar Asked Jews to Prepare Themselves Adequately for Yom Kippur… the Day of Atonement



Jews are preparing to observe Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, a time for repentance, and the remission of sins. On Friday evening, at the Moscow Jewish Community Centre, Jewish believers will meet for services, where a famous cantor from New York, Shneur Zalman Baumgarten, shall lead the ceremony.

“On this day, God finally determines the fate of everyone for the coming year; He forgives our sins, and seals us in the Book of Life. Throughout the Days of Awe, we prayed to the Creator to show us mercy”, Chief Rabbi of Russia Berel Lazar said in his Yom Kippur message, which was quoted by his press office. He noted that the Jewish sages taught that there was a threefold way “to mitigate the Lord’s verdict”… repentance, prayer, and charity. Rav Lazar pointed up that “repentance” (in Hebrew, תשובה‎: teshuva) literally means, “return”. He wrote, “Simply put, repenting wrong actions and promising not to repeat them is only the beginning. Then, we must move on to the most important point… we must return to God and recover our true essence, because each of us is created in His image and likeness. When we make such a ‘return’, we’re transformed; it opens up within us our previously-hidden God-given true nature”. Rav Lazar said, “To proceed, believers must pray, because it’s a direct channel of communication with the Creator, and when we establish such a connection, we can return to the God-given fundamentals, and embody our repentance in action, in good works“. He hoped that Jewish believers would fulfil all three components of the Atonement, that it wouldn’t only provide them with “a good and sweet new year, a good testimony, and a place in the Book of Life, but that it would also hasten the redemption of all things, the coming of the Messiah”.

Yom Kippur ends the ten days of repentance in the month of Tishrei that seals the ultimate fate of each person in the coming year (the first day is Rosh ha-Shana (Rosh Hashanah), Jewish New Year). The Bible describes it as a Day of Atonement before God; people should rest from work and not “trouble their souls”. However, Yom Kippur isn’t considered a day of sorrow and grief.

7 October 2011



Thursday, 29 September 2011

VOR Presents… Rosh ha-Shana (Rosh Hashanah)… or, Jewish New Year 5772

On the evening of 28 September, Jewish communities began to celebrate Rosh ha-Shana, or, the Jewish New Year, which they calculate from the date of creation. According to the Jewish reckoning, the year coming is 5772. During the High Holy Days (Days of Awe), every believer gives an accounting of all their words, thoughts, and deeds of the past year to the Creator. People repent and correct their shortcomings, in order to return to God.


Jews celebrate Rosh ha-Shana, which in Hebrew means, “The ‘head’ (beginning) of the year”, on the first and second days of Tishrei on the Jewish calendar.


On the eve of Rosh ha-Shana, Jews greet each other with the wish, “May only good be written of you this year”. An ancient legend says that the names of everyone living on earth is written in the great book of life in heaven, and that God decides everyone’s fate during the time of Rosh ha-Shana, “Who shall live, and who shall die; who shall have serenity, and who shall roam; who shall have confidence, and who shall doubt; who shall be wealthy, and who shall be in poverty”.


One of the important parts of the celebration of Rosh Hashanah is the blowing of the shofar (ram’s horn) during Morning Prayer. Jewish believers see this as a challenge to Divine Justice and as a call to repentance.


Like all Jewish holidays, the day begins with a prayer. In Moscow, the celebration of Rosh ha-Shana began at the Jewish Community Centre in Maryina Roshcha with a concert of the Hasidic Cappella Male Chorus, At 19.00 MSK (16.00 UTC, 11.00 EDT 08.00 PDT), the faithful lit candles, and Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar read the Prayer of the Year.


Israeli Ambassador to Russia Dorit Golender  (1951- ) (left) and Chief Rabbi of Russia Berel Lazar  (1964- ) (right) at Rosh ha-Shana celebrations at the Moscow Jewish Community Centre.


Jews count the New Year from the sixth day of creation, the day when God created the first man. Rav Lazar said, “This has a deeper meaning. We must remember mankind’s creation; we must become acutely aware that our lives have significance, which means that we didn’t come into the world aimlessly, but through the Will of the Creator”.


A father and son, participants in the solemn celebration of Rosh ha-Shana, seen before the start of the festive events at the Moscow Jewish Community Centre.


Jewish pilgrims seen during Evening Prayer at the synagogue. About 40,000 Hasidic Jews celebrate Rosh ha-Shana in Uman (Cherkasy Oblast, the Ukraine).


Prior to the festal New Year’s meal, the custom is to eat apples dipped in honey; this custom is to wish everyone a “good and sweet” New Year. During the meal, they eat fish, pomegranates, carrots, beets, and other fruit whose names in Hebrew or Yiddish are associated with good events.


Voice of Russia World Service

29 September 2011


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