Rosh Hashana in Eesti

The following is an excerpt from my blog, The Baltic Babushka, a journal of my JDC Entwine Global Jewish Service Corp year in Estonia. You can read the full post and keep up with my updates here.

It was Rosh Hashanah right when I got here. The first Rosh Hashanah related event I attended was a Klezmer concert. It was awesome. I was still really jet-lagged but the sounds of Hava-Nagila really helped to perk me up (many of you received snap-chats of this concert).

I also attended the anniversary party of Aviv, the Jewish kindergarten. The event was something I wish I could properly describe. There were two clowns. It was all in Russian. The clowns asked parents and kids to act out a Russian fairytale. Maybe? That is the most I understood about the scenario. There was lots of cake and chocolate. it was a good time!

The next day I went walking through the Old Town. I had been so excited to do this. When you google “Tallinn,” there are pictures of the Old Town. Oy, it's beautiful. It is a preserved medieval town! They sell Elk soup and roasted nuts. It's just a great thing.

Afterwards, I got a call from Yoel, who is a madrich (youth leader) in the community, to come to the community for a Rosh Hashanah program. Another element of my work here is with the madrichim and School for Madrichim. In Estonia (and the other Baltic countries) the Jewish youth participate in a 2 year training program to become madrichim. Training takes place on Sundays and focuses on both leadership development (hadracha) and Judaism. Once kids in the School for Madrichim graduate from this program, they are certified leaders in the community and can lead programs for their peers and be camp counselors!

I had the opportunity to meet both the madrichim and the kids in the School for Madrichim after the program. They are so amazing. After we spent shabbat together (which is when i discovered that Estonia has the greatest chocolate ever), we had a dance party. We danced to a mix of Russian and English songs. After my summer at Biluim I swore I would never listen to “I’m so fancy,” ever again. So much for that. It is a favorite here too. Of course, in between dance-partying I was being taught all the dirty phrases in Russian. I wont repeat them here. Every utterance of a dirty Russian phrase was followed by ten 15 to 17-year-old boys dying of laughter. I love it here.

Also I've been renamed because “Jordana” isnt a name here. The teens gave me some options of names I could choose from. When one of them read out the name “Aurora” from  list of Russian names, I immediately chose that one. I of course love it because it is the name of the princess in Sleeping Beauty. But turns out that Aurora is a big ship in St. Petersburg, so all the teens started laughing because I named myself “Big Ship.” Not exactly what I had in mind. So much for my princess idea.

I went to services on Rosh Hashanah. It was, of course, all in Russian and Hebrew. There were some parts of me that missed hearing the service in English. But mostly I am still loving the novelty of hearing Russian all the time.

On Saturday, Shayla, from Latvia, came to teach Israeli dancing for the whole day. I thought that this was going to be more instructional. Turns out the teens are all expert Israeli dancers. This was not rikud at CKB on shabbat. This stuff was the real deal and I was horrible. I have enough trouble learning to dance when someone is explaining it in English, let alone Russian. The good news is that I made many people laugh.

On Sunday, I ran my first program with the School for Madrichim. I taught them some of my favorite ice breakers. It was the coolest thing to see the games I love playing at camp transposed in this new environment. Camp games are just the worlds most relatable thing.

You can read the full post and keep up with my updates at The Baltic Babushka.

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October 7, 2014 at 12:21 PM




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