In Moscow the chometz gets sold twice each year by the Chief Rabbi of Russia, Rabbi Berel Lazar. This is because of the great time differences that span this vast country – 11 time zones in total.
The first sale of chometz took place on the night of Bedikas Chometz. That’s when all of Eastern Russia’s chometz was sold, since their Yom Tov begins when it is still early morning of Erev Pesach in Moscow.
The second sale took place on Friday morning for the rest of Russian Jewry, spread over tens of communities who sent in their “sale contracts” during the weeks leading up to Pesach.
While in the yard of the Marina Roscha shul the chometz was being burned, preparations were underway for the hundreds of public sedorim that would take place throughout the city that night. This is in addition to the many sedorim that would take place in cities all over Russia by their Rabbis, the Chabad shluchim, along with bochurim who traveled especially to ensure that Jews in the most far-flung places in Russia would have a public seder to attend.
Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, sent a letter with warm wishes via his personal representative to the large public seder that was led by Rabbi Lazar for close to 1000 people. In addition to his traditional holiday blessings, he expressed his admiration for how the Russian Jews have preserved their traditions, passing them on from generation to generation, and are now experiencing a renaissance throughout Russia.
Photos by Levi Nazarov