In what has become an annual event; friends, supporters, community members, rabbis and shluchim all gathered together to mark 17 years to the Central Gmach of the Russian Federation. Since its founding, “Keren Chaya Mushka” has helped fund a respectable number of various aid and assistance programs, with only one goal in mind: to help and support any and every Jew in Russia.
This large and important fund was established seventeen years ago in blessed memory of the young shlucha Chaya Mushka Lazar a”h, eldest daughter of yblch”t Chief Rabbi and Rebbetzin of Russia, Rabbi Berel and Mrs. Chani Lazar. Since then it has merited to help hundreds and thousands of Jews, with its highlight being interest free loans to Russian Jews without the usual bureaucracy (which was almost unheard of in Russia until then). This has been a tremendous step in the renaissance of Russian Jewry, alongside the funds to help needy brides, childcare assistance, kimcha depischa, anonymous tzedaka, and more, all while respectfully preserving the dignity of those being assisted.
At the appointed time on Motzei Shabbos of Parshas Ki Tisa, hundreds gathered at the elegant banquet hall in the Radisson Hotel on the banks of the Moscow River. There they enjoyed a full course melava malka, along with a rich and diverse program led by Russian television personality Mr. Alexander Feifman, who has been returning to his Jewish roots in recent years and has begun studying Torah and Chassidus.
The Keynote Address was given by Rabbi Berel Lazar, who stands at the helm of this important fund from the day of its inception, and who has been its driving force from day one. Rabbi Lazar is constantly encouraging the Gmach administrators to keep on moving forward, and has personally turned to friends and acquaintances to take part in this special endeavor which is growing by leaps and bounds thanks to the tireless efforts of its dedicated volunteers.
During his speech, he shared the Rebbe’s explanation to the fact that on Purim the tzedaka that we give is called “matanos laevyonim” rather than simply “tzedaka”. In fact, what the fund does on a daily basis is truly matanos laevyonim throughout the entire year!
The Guest of Honor was Russia’s Deputy Minister of Defense, Mr. Ruslan Tzalikov, a personal friend of Rabbi Lazar.
Philanthropist Mr. Edward Shifrin spoke as representative of the Fund’s supporters.
Additionally, President of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Russia, Rabbi Alexander Boroda, and Israel’s Ambassador to Russia, Mr. Gary Koren, also spoke.
During intervals, the crowd was uplifted by a special orchestra of Klezmer musicians who played soul-stirring nigunim. The evening’s culmination was a professional performance about tzedaka and chesed, which mesmerized the audience and aroused them to the greatness of this mitzvah, and the importance of the chesed done by “Keren Chaya Mushka”.
After presenting awards and gifts of recognition to the supporters of this year, the Shliach and director of the Marina Roscha Jewish Community Center, Rabbi Mordechai Weisberg was honored with leading birkas hamazon.
Photos by Levi Nazarov