Dozens of Jews from the city of Bender, located in the central region of Moldova, Transnistria (Приднестровье), celebrated Chanukah with Chabad Shluchim Rabbi Mendy and Leah Gotzel.
Transnistria declared its independence in 1991, following the civil war that broke out. Most of the Jews had immigrated to Israel by then. Today, only about 1,000 Jews live in the entire region of this country – out of a population of more than half a million people.
The separatist region was not recognized as a state, aside from by the Russians.
Chabad Shluchim operating in Moldova, under the Chief Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Abelsky, do not leave any Jew behind – including Jews of Transnistria! Although special visas are needed to enter the Transistria, with the separate authorities there, Rabbi Mendy and Leah Gutzel arrive there periodically to hold activities there.
In Bender, there is also a daily Kollel Torah operated by the Chabad Moldova.
On the fourth night of Chanukah, hundreds of Moldovan Jews gathered at the Philharmonic Hall in Chisinau Capital. This event marked the 30th anniversary of the arrival of the first Chabad Shluchim in the former Soviet Union – the late Chief Rabbi Zalman Abelsky OBM.
Moldovan Prime Minister and distinguished public figures sent letters of acknowledgment.
Mr. Simcha Buzor, president of the community, proudly noted that this community was established by Rabbi Abelsky. It continues to grow and flourish all the time, on the basis of his firm foundations.
Mr. Buzor emotionally welcomed the current Chief Rabbi – Yosef Yitzhak Abelsky, and all those who assist him in the holy work, the Axelrod, Gutsel and Zalmanov families. He promised that he would raise budgets to bring additional families of rabbis to Moldova. “With the help of G-d we will continue and grow like the Chanukah candles” he promised.
Rabbi Yosef Yitzhak Abelsky, Moldova’s chief rabbi, wished the audience: “May the following year bring the Chisinau community together, with all the Jews in Jerusalem along with Moshiach!” the rabbi concluded.