Beit Simha Ushpizin Interfaith event Sukkot, October 2019During Sukkot celebration in October, the Sandra Breslauer Beit Simha Center in Minsk hosted its annual “Readings in the Sukkah” where guests took part in reading from Ecclesiastes (“Kohelet”) and prayers for peace in eight languages, as by Irina Belskia, Beit Simha’s Jewish educator. Festival participants developed the initiative to create an interfaith text for reflection to read at various memorial services after a peace prayer.

The event was attended by members of the Religious Union for Progressive Judaism and Netzer in Belarus, the Union of Belarusian Jewish Public Associations and Communities, the UN Resident Coordinator, ambassadors of Israel, Germany, Switzerland, Romania, Brazil, France, Armenia, and diplomats from Russia, Great Britain, Sweden, the Vatican and Poland. Ambassadors of Austria and Czech Republic sent their congratulations to the RUPJ in Belarus ahead of the event.

Beit Simha Center’s theater group, “Hohma,” presented a play about Ushpizin, the Sukkot practice of hosting and welcoming guests, was well received. And all participants enjoyed a festive meal in Beit Shimha’s Sukkah.

Reflecting on the event, Rabbi Grisha Abramovich noted, “This was the first diplomatic Ushpizin in Minsk to host so many important guests and diplomats to focus on the theme of maintaining peace, and the value of peace, in the modern world.”