Jewish Holidays in Latvia #latvia

Arlene Beare <arl@...>

I have received this message >from Rabbi Glazman. It is good to see
that Jewish life is alive and well in Latvia. I know that many of us
are unobservant and that the Chabad message is not to everyone's
liking but as I said they are doing a wonderful job in keeping Jewish
traditions alive.
Arlene Beare

The busy month of holidays is now over and it is time to make a reckoning of
all activities and accomplishments.

The attractive Jewish calendar that was published and distributed includes
information about holidays and other programs that will take place
throughout the year. A special pamphlet with all the dates and times of
prayers and celebrations in the Synagogue was sent mailed out and as a
result, there was a marked difference in the service attendance this
Tishrei. An informative booklet with detailed explanations and insights on
the holidays was given out, as was, of course, the yearly candle lighting

The first night of Rosh Hashanah, the Synagogue was full to capacity. The
next day, many people came especially to hear Tkiat Shofar. Late afternoon,
special programs for kids and adults were made for those who could not make
it to the morning prayers. It ended with a spirited walk to the Daugava
river for the traditional Tashlich.

A beautiful holiday meal was arranged in Hotel Riga for the students and
parents of Ohel Menachem Kindergarten and school. A separate evening for
college students was also well attended.

On Yom Kippur, the Synagogue was crowded for the Tfillot for Kol Nidrei and
Neila. Machzorim were provided for all and the "Prayer Partner" system was a
big help for those unfamiliar with the services.

With the help of the JDC, Lulavim sets were made available for interested
individuals and Jewish institutions in Riga and other cities in Latvia.

The week of Succoth was a lively one here in Riga. Various parties and
concerts were organized for groups of all ages. The Riga Klezmer band had
people dancing to their lively music in the Synagogue on Sunday afternoon.
The children of the kindergarten and school were happy to perform for their
parents and the many guests who also visited the decorated Succah and
enjoyed refreshments there. The joy was brought as far as Daugavpils with a
portable Succah and an interesting program.

What would holidays be without good food? Thank G-d, there has been a steady
supply of kosher chickens in the Baltics, with the most recent Shchita of 5
ton of chicken before Rosh Hashanah. Two thousand liters of milk were
imported >from France for those in the interested in Kosher milk products.

The old-age Jewish tradition of "Upsherenish"(first haircutting at a boy's
third birthday) was brought to public eye, when a triple ceremony took place
last week. The three adorable boys with their long locks of hair impressed
the guests with their knowledge of the Jewish Aleph Bet, Brochot and words
of Torah. They licked honey off the holy letters and had candies thrown on
them by the "angels", who also rejoiced in the new scholars' achievements.
All the young guests joined in for a Torah dance while their parents looked
on with pleasure. The boys were so proud of their brand new Tzitzit that
they were finally able to don. The transformation was complete when each
participant was called up to snip a piece of hair, leaving the payot as
required by Jewish law.

Wishing you a good "Chodesh" and a happy and healthy winter.

Rabbi Mordechai Glazman

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