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Pesach in St. Petersburg

Pesach in St. Petersburg – Three Sedarim and it’s only the first day!

I am now writing to you from St Petersburg, and it seems strange after months of planning to have finally arrived here.

We have just finished the Shacharit service for the first day of Pesach, and already I’ve been involved with three sedarim; I would love to write about all of them now, but I only have a couple of minutes on the computer, so I’ll have to be brief (more will follow).

After a relaxing morning on Wednesday, together with Julia, Josh and David, I was thrown straight into the lions den, with our task being to run a seder for 15-17 year olds, in a cramped classroom, in 40 minutes. And if that wasn’t enough we were going to have to repeat the feat twice.

The first seder was an interesting experience, I think when we planned it we must have forgotten the fact that we were working with a translator (Zina, a real superstar), and everything we wanted to say would therefore take twice as long. They were definitely a challenging group, who were more interested in the food than what we had to say, but they definitely learnt a little bit, and they looked like they were having fun.

I’m now thinking of the first seder as a test run for the second one, which was an excellent experience. With a five minute break to re-group between the sederim, we were ready and raring to go. We sang (Mah Nishtana, Dayenu, and Echad Mi Yodeah), we ate (carpas, matza and the Hillel sandwich), we drank (four cups of grape juice), we laughed (together at the four children, them at our poor attempts at Russian, and us when they were tearing the classroom apart looking for the afikoman), and we learnt (why the Jews left Egypt).

I will write soon about the first night seder at the community, but thanks to help of Samuel Farbman (Rabbi Michael’s son) I can now count up to four in Russian: adin, dvah, trie, chiteera. Maybe by next time I’ll be able to reach seven!

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