22 June 2018 / 9 Tammuz 5778
For soccer fans, Optus Sport’s World Cup streaming issues have plagued its broadcast of this year’s FIFA World Cup in Russia. The Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has involved himself in the saga. “I have spoken with the Optus CEO, Allen Lew. He assures me he is giving the World Cup streaming problems his personal attention and he believes it will be fixed this evening.” Mr Turnbull tweeted.
Rabbi Chaim Danzinger, Chabad emissary from Rostov-on-Don, is preparing for thousands of Jewish soccer fans who will descend on his town and 10 other historic cities for the upcoming World Cup games in Russia. Rostov-on-Don has the distinction of being the burial place of the fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe—Rabbi Sholom Dov Ber Schneersohn, obm (1860-1920).
It is estimated that 10,000 Israelis and thousands more Jewish fans are expected to fly to Russia from around the world.
In addition to steering the visitors to the most meaningful historical sites, Chabad emissaries in the host cities intend that visitors will leave inspired not only by the sporting extravaganza, but by a taste of the ever-burgeoning Jewish communal life in the post-Soviet Era. Naturally they plan to offer opportunities for prayer, study and other mitzvahs, and of course, kosher food and Shabbat meals.
In Moscow two halls are being set up to hold an expected 1,000 Shabbat guests for each meal. The Jewish Community Centre has released a phone app with Jewish traveller information for every host city.
Rabbi Berel Lazar, Chief Rabbi of Russia and Head of Chabad Russia, has spearheaded Russia’s Jewish revival since his arrival in 1990. The poignancy of so many Jews attending the games is heightened by the fact that the 1917 Russian Revolution overthrew a centuries-old regime of Tzar Nicholas, and the official anti-Semitism in the Russian Empire. However, the previous legacy of anti-Semitism soon continued with a vengeance by the Soviet State’s particularly murderous Soviet regime of Joseph Stalin. Until his death in 1953, thousands of Jews and others were killed as political prisoners, and Jewish observances often took place under the threat of death or imprisonment.
In 2002 when President George W. Bush toured Rabbi Chaim Danzinger Rostov-on-Don Synagogue, he asked him “Can you really be a Jew in Russia and not be afraid to practice your religion?“ To which he replied, “If the president comes to this synagogue, then that is a statement that things have changed.”
With over 60 Chabad centres in Russia today the future of Russian Jewry looks bright, and if you are travelling to Russia for the World Cup and you need a Kosher meal, Shabbat lodgings or a Minyan, just contact the local Chabad Rabbi.
Rabbi and Sheyna Riesenberg