The Jewish communities in Kishinev and greater Moldova have suffered immensely throughout our history. Not only were many innocent Jews murdered in the “Kishinev Riots,” but subsequently many people lost their lives during the rise of Communism as well as the Nazis. Having suffered genocide, wholesale destruction, and the burning of their synagogues and mikvehs, Jewish communities in post-war Moldova found themselves in shambles.
Thirty years ago, during the festival of Chanukah in 1990, Rabbi Zalman Abelsky and his wife Rebbetzin Leah moved to Moldova, becoming the first Shluchim of the Rebbe to go back to the Soviet Union.
They began to work to revive these Jewish communities and to instill light and hope in the hearts of the Jews of Moldova. Their success served as an inspiration and model for more couples to move to other communist countries after the fall of the Iron Curtain.
On Wednesday, the third day of Chanukah, 2019, Chabad of Moldova arranged a beautiful concert, marking thirty years of growth and Judaism in Moldova. A large Menorah was lit outside of the concert hall, and all the participants enjoyed homemade traditional Chanukah doughnuts.
A longtime community member, Rabbi Baruch Cohen Dubirni, emceed the event. He began the event by reading letters of greetings that were sent for the occasion by local authorities and distinguished public figures.
The crowd was addressed by the community president, Mr. Simcha Bojor, who proudly noted that the community that was founded by Rabbi Abelsky OBM continues to grow and flourish each day. He welcomed the oldest son of Rabbi Zalman, the current Chief Rabbi of Moldova, Rabbi Yossef Abelsky, and the assisting Rabbis, Rabbi Mendy Axelrod, Rabbi Mendy Gotsel and Rabbi Shmuel Zalmanov.
With a pledge to raise funds to increase the budget to bring more rabbis with their families to Moldova, Bojor promised that “with the help of G-d, we will add and grow like the Chanukah candles.”
Mr. Slavic Roitman and Mr. Simcha Weinberg, members of the Chabad synagogue, thanked and congratulated Rebbetzin Leah on behalf of the entire community.
People left the concert feeling connected and empowered, organizers said. Many shared that they are ready to commit to being more involved in Chabad’s activities and to come to Minyan and Kollel Torah more often in honor of the 30 year anniversary.
“The growth we’ve seen in the past thirty years is phenomenal,” said Rabbi Zushe Abelsky, director of Chabad of Moldova. “From here, we will continue to grow and expand, and reach every Jew that we can in Moldova.”