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What Matters Most at Russian Style Sukkot in Melbourne?

By Sarah Bendetsky

On 23 October, a Russian-style Sukkot house party brought together over 60 people in Melbourne.

Organised by Subbotnik’s volunteers and hosted at Melbourne’s Kangarusski Russian Moishe House, the celebration included the Lulav and Etrog shaking ceremonies, a concert in the sukkah, a delicious BBQ, children’s entertainment and plenty of warm conversations.

Aiming to reconnect the Russian Jewish community with Jewish traditions taken away by years of Communist regime, the Subbotnik Sukkot BBQ created a space where everyone belonged regardless of levels of religious observance. From youngest guests of less than 6 months old to those of over 80, everyone had a great time.

Subbotnik’s co-founder Sarah Bendersky said, “One of the main themes of Sukkot is unity and understanding our differences. We marked the holiday as one family through shared memories, performances by talented musicians Alexander Sudakov and Yehuda Bondar, enjoying familiar tastes and celebrating Jewish life and culture. Such occasions are rare in the fast-paced world of work commitments, ‘likes and shares’ and stress as they help to keep the focus on what matters most.”

First-time participant, Sergey Gorelick, said, “We’ve been in Australia for only a month, but already felt like we’ve known everyone for years! Awesome people, awesome family-style celebration! And awesome weather, considering that Sukkot in Finland is very often celebrated in snow.”

Raisa Tsemel added, “We also attended an event organised by Subbotnik organisation for the first time. It was great to meet people with similar background. The atmosphere was very warm and friendly; we felt really welcomed there. We want our kids to know more about Jewish traditions, so this was the perfect opportunity to get them involved. After we came home, our son said that he wants to learn Hebrew!”

Subbotnik thanks the event organisers, partners, businesses, volunteers and supporters including: Kangarusski Moishe House, KangarusskiSolomon Kosher Butchers, Alona’s Catering, BAS & MORE Bookkeeping and Virtual CFO Services, Margarita’s Loans and Finances, Astoria Paper Products, Click Clack Cabinets, Alona and Ariel Krapivin, Alina Zamel-Well and Sam Well, Dosia Sinyavker, Gabi Hodge, Ariel Singer, Emmanuel Banakh, Kira Volpe, Rami Teplitskiy, Alex Sudakov, Yehuda Bondar, Rebetzen Miriam Telsner, Tatiana Shvartsman, Jenny Medvedev, Sergey Gorelick, Kira Volpe, Manfred and Masha Cohen, Avigdor Frenklakh, Avi Bendetsky, Habonim Dror Madrichim, Moshe and Rivkah Kofmansky.

Currently, Subbotnik volunteers are planning their next function – a heimish Shabbat Dinner with residents of Montefiore Homes in honour of the international Shabbat Project on 11 November.

View our Sukkot photos at Subbotnik’s Facebook page here

Listen to Alexander Sudakov’s great performance of his song ‘Oy Vey’ filmed at our Sukkot celebration and sing along!

For more information about Subbotnik, a grassroots organisation running events and projects for Russian-speaking Jewish community in Australia, and to assist financially or by volunteering, please visit Subbotnik’s Facebook page, email info@subbotnik.org.au or call Sarah Bendetsky on 01468333770.