A Russian Rosh Hashanah

September 22, 2015 by Sarah Bendetsky
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Over 170 people gathered at Subbotnik’s Pre-Rosh Hashana Funday at Russian Sunday School Lider in Melbourne’s Caulfield North.

Subbotnik is a Russian term for volunteering action commonly held on Saturdays

Hosted by a young, dynamic volunteer-driven organisation Subbotnik in partnership with the Russian Sunday School Lider, the event was a truly unforgettable experience for kids, parents, grandparents and many friends.

A Subbotnik Shofar

A Subbotnik Shofar

From an incredible Shofar factory and a gripping magic show, live music and face painting to gift packing for children and local Holocaust survivors, a raffle, arts & crafts, photo booth fun, and a visit from a huge Bumblebee, the carnival brought hundreds of smiles to participants’ faces while spreading the holiday spirit in a very exciting way.

“To be honest, I was truly touched to see my children’s emotions during the magic show,” shared volunteer musician and parent Alexander Sudakov. “They were simply mesmerised, while us, parents, had a chance to catch up on socialising over tea and delicious home-made desserts, knowing that our kids were having the best time ever.”

Organiser Sam Well said, “We had a spontaneous idea of taking the Rosh Hashana spirit and symbolism to the doorsteps of the Russian Sunday School Lider, where there are so many Jewish students from Former USSR. Luckily, the Subbotnik team was warmly welcomed by the school’s Principal Marina Prostakova and Vice-Principal Mikhail Gerdel, who helped us at all stages of planning with great cheer and involved excellent volunteers among the parents of students.”

During the preparation time, the Organising Committee members met at each other’s homes after work, shopped at local markets and baked, decorated the hall and planned every detail to make the carnival a success. And according to numerous photos on the Subbotnik’s Facebook page, the mission was accomplished with flying colours.

“Thanks to the Subbotnik team’s extraordinary energy, dedication and a positive can-do attitude, the Pre-Rosh Hashana Fun Day was one of the most memorable events we’ve held at school. We hope to host many more events together and wish Subbotnik to go from strength to strength,” said Mikhail Gerdel, Vice-President of Russian Sunday School Lider.

Sarah Bendetsky, Subbotnik’s Co-Founder said, “Sometimes, it’s hard to believe what a small group of volunteers can achieve together. Most of us are working parents of young children with plenty of responsibilities… and yet, here we are preparing for our 6th function!”

Established in April 2015 by a group of Russian-Speaking volunteers in Melbourne, the Subbotnik team is currently organising a mobile succah event in Caulfield Park, in addition to their first-ever Shabbat Dinner in Sydney, which will be held on 23 October as part of the International Shabbat Dinner Project, together with Hillel Sydney and FREE Chabad Centre in Bondi.

Shailee Mendelevich, Assistant Director of Hillel said, “We were approached by the Subbotnik Committee to help facilitate the Shabbat Dinner experience in Sydney, and we were delighted to be involved. We have been very impressed by what we saw happening in Melbourne and felt the vision of an easily accessible cultural and spiritual experience, guided entirely by volunteers was the perfect program to support.”

“We are thrilled to co-host the upcoming Subbotnik event in Sydney; there is no doubt that it will be a remarkable success,” said Rabbi Yehoram Ulman, the Head of FREE Chabad Centre of Bondi. “The 10,000 members of the Jewish Russian community in Sydney are eager to enrich their connection to yiddishkeit and the Subbotnik initiative is a fantastic opportunity to accomplish just that.”

Organiser Jenny Medvedev said, “Thanks to the amazing support from our community, the Subbotnik project has grown tremendously. Our plans are ambitious and we are hoping that our first Shabbat Dinner in NSW will be just as enjoyable and heimish as our Melbourne functions, starting a series of great Jewish community events with Russian flavour in Sydney. Please spread the word and register today!”

To register for the upcoming Shabbat Dinner in Sydney, go to www.trybooking.com/JDJM

The Subbotnik team extends its gratitude to businesses, community organisations and volunteers for their generous support of Pre-Rosh Hashana Funday including: Lider Russian Sunday School, Boothiful Photobooths, AAW Cabinet Makers, Felix Magic, The Fancy Dress Party Place, BAS N MORE Bookkeeping Services, Margarita’s Home Loans, Shazami Imports, Passionate Catering, The Luna Park, Signarama Prahran and St Kilda, SAS Security, Toot Toot Toys, Fairy Heather Frankish Face painting, Super Zu Indoor Playcentre Dingley, RB Print Imaging, Sports Screens, Astoria Paper Products, Lombard The Paper People, Kids Dining Children’s Activity Packs, Chai Books and others.

To find out more about Subbotnik and to help cover the cost of events by donating and volunteering, please contact Sarah Bendetsky on 0468333770, visit the Subbotnik Facebook page or www.subbotnik.org.au or email info@subbotnik.org.au


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