In a true spirit of unity, seventy-five Rabbis from Russia’s cities and regions joined together in the Siberian city of Tomsk for a special Shabbos Achdus which began on Friday morning at the large central shul, and continued in the neighboring Jewish Community Center which serves as the spiritual address for all jews, amongst them many of the Jewish students who are attracted by the city’s prestigious universities.
The Governor General of Tomsk, Mr. Mazur, and the city’s Mayor Mr. Ratner, arrived at the shul on Friday to express their appreciation, on behalf of the region’s citizens, for the extensive activities of the Rabbis who arrived all the way from Birobidzhan in Russia’s Far East to Kalliningrad in its west.
Russia’s Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar, in turn, expressed his gratitude on behalf of the region’s Jews for the help and government support provided in Tomsk and its surrounding areas. Rabbi Lazar presided over the unique Shabbos, giving classes both to the local Jews, and answering many halachic questions raised by the visiting Rabbis. He spoke at the special farbrengens in honor of Shabbos Mevorchim Sivan, and in preparation for the Yom Tov of Shavuos, when the Jewish nation stood as one at the foot of the mountain, their unity a symbol and inspiration for generations to come, just as the unity and love amongst the many Rabbis present could be felt and seen as a shining example.
Additional speakers were Rabbi Yitzchok Kogan of Moscow’s Bolshaya Bronnaya shul, Rabbi Alexander Boroda, President of the Federation of Jewish Communities in the FSU, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Pewsner, Rabbi to St. Petersburg, and Rabbi Zalman Deutsch, Rabbi of Perm, the latter two who are also part of the organizing committee of the Annual Regional Kinus. This is the fifth year of such a gathering, with previous kinusim being held in the cities of Ufa, Rostov, Novosibirsk, Nizhny Novgorod, and next year’s kinus planned to be held Russia’s European enclave of Kalliningrad.
On Friday there was a variety of halachic symposiums and different forums to present new outreach tools for working with the community’s youth.
Together with the Rabbis who attended, were also about 50 young boys, their sons, who enjoyed an uplifting Shabbos together, which gave them a much needed boost in their role as shluchim, living in cities in which they and their families are the only frum jews for miles and miles.
Throughout Shabbos, into which so much work and effort was put by Tomsk’s shluchim Rabbi Kaminetzky and Rabbi Reuven Nekhoda, many of the local jews came by to see the unusual sight of so many rabbis gathered together in their city’s shul. This caused a great Kiddush Hashem, and brought about a respectable amount of local media coverage.