A year in Dnepropetrovsk

An American volunteer in Ukraine

Archive for April, 2009

Purimspiel silent film

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Tanakh signing

A few weeks ago, Dnepropetrovsk participated in a global effort to write the Tanakh (the full Jewish Bible, beginning with the Torah, the first five books, and continuing with the Prophets and the Writings). Each participating city chooses a book to write in full, and then congregants each write one phrase in their native language. Dnepropetrovsk chose the book Bamidbar, or Numbers, to write in Ukrainian.


Here is Aharon Weiss, of Joint Jerusalem, former director of Yad Vashem, opening the ceremony. Read the rest of this entry »

30 days hath September…

I don’t know about you, but it’s pretty annoying to figure out how many days are in May the American way. You have to go through the entire poem (except the February part– everyone knows how many days are in February) before realizing that May is one of the unmentioned “all the rest have 31” months. Now, there’s an easier way.

I present to you the Ukrainian method:


The months on the knuckles have 31 days, while the months in the spaces between have only 30 (except February, but as I said, we all know what her deal is). You’ll never be caught looking upward, biting your bottom lip, and humming that poem you learned in first grade again.



Purim is pretty much the same in Ukraine as in America, with one important distinction: whereas in America Hanukkah is the major Jewish fun holiday, here that award is split between Hanukkah and Purim. In other words, Purim is a very big deal. Just like they did for Hanukkah, each Jewish organization has their own big celebration. The staff of the JCC, for example, put on a large Purimspiel play the Sunday after the holiday, replete with Hamentashen and other treats, which the entire community was invited to. At Sunday School we made a silent Purimspiel film, which was shown at the school’s Purim celebration and at the JCC play (more about the film itself in the next post). Read the rest of this entry »



One of the great things about Passover in Ukraine is that many of the dishes we normally eat are naturally kosher for Pesach. A prime example is borsht, perhaps the most well-known and beloved example of Ukrainian cuisine. Every Ukrainian woman has her own version and so I present to you my very own, one of a kind, borsht recipe.

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