Thursday, October 09, 2008

Yom Kippur in Kiev - 1987

I am lifting this entire post from This Blog
The storty is so moving it deserves to be reproduced in its entirety.

When "perestroika" became a reality in the former Soviet Union, Jews after many decades of forced assimilation were finally able to live openly as Jews again. The next year, in 1987, a young Chabad rabbi, sent by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, was leading the services in the main synagogue of Kiev on Yom Kippur night.

Announcements of the Yom Kippur services had been posted all over Kiev and Jews responded eagerly. Old men who remembered accompanying their parents to shul as children, young families who wanted a taste of their heritage after more than a half- century of Soviet persecution, and youth in their teens who barely knew they were Jewish, flocked to the main synagogue.

The services began with the cantor chanting Kol Nidrei. The moving melody stirred the hearts of all those who had come. But as the service proceeded, the Chabad rabbi sensed feelings of disappointment beginning to surface. After all, most of the people had never before even been in a synagogue; none of them knew how to pray together with the cantor. Despite the best intentions, Hebrew- Russian prayerbooks, and his explanations in Russian, he could sense that the people were becoming bored, and within their hearts a question was beginning to take form: Were these the prayers that20they had yearned for so many years to be allowed to say?

In the middle of the services, after the silent prayer said while standing, known as the Amida or Shemona Esrei, the young rabbi decided to make one more attempt to strengthen their involvement in the proceedings. So he ascended to the lectern and began to tell them the following Baal Shem Tov story:

One Yom Kippur, the Baal Shem Tov was praying together with his students in a small Polish village. Through his spiritual vision, the holy Baal Shem Tov had detected that harsh heavenly judgments had been decreed against the Jewish people, and he and his students were trying with all the sincerity they could muster to cry out to G·d and implore Him to rescind these decrees and grant the Jews a year of blessing.

This deep feeling took hold of all the inhabitants of the village and everyone opened his heart in deep-felt prayer.

Among the inhabitants of the village was a simple shepherd boy. He did not know how to read or even follow from the prayerbook; indeed, he could just barely read the letters of the alef-beit, the Hebrew alphabet. As the intensity of feeling in the synagogue began to mount, he decided that he also wanted to pray. But he did not know how. He could not read the words of the prayer book or mimic the prayers of the other congregants.

So, he opened the prayer book to the first page and began to recite the letters: alef, beit, veit - reading the entire alphabet. Then he then called out: "G·d, this is all I can do. You know how the prayers should be pronounced. Please, arrange the letters in the proper way."

This simple, genuine prayer resounded powerfully within the Heavenly court. G·d rescinded all the harsh decrees and granted the Jews blessing and good fortune.

The Chabad Rabbi paused for a moment to let the story impact his listeners. Suddenly a voice in the Shule called out, "alef." And thousands of voices thundered back "alef." The voice continued: "beit," and the thousands responded "beit." They continued to pronounce every letter in the Hebrew alphabet.

And then they began to file out of the synagogue. They had recited their prayers.


Blogger doubtisgood said...

What a great story. Thanks for posting it.

11:54 PM  
Blogger Mata H said...

you are welcome..I found it very moving...

4:28 PM  
Blogger anywhere_Smile said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:30 AM  

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