By Sarah Bendetsky
On 13 September, 170 people gathered at Subbotnik’s Pre-Rosh Hashana Funday at Russian Sunday School Lider in Caulfield North (a suburb in Melbourne, Australia).
Hosted by a young, dynamic volunteer-driven organisation Subbotnik in partnership with the Russian Sunday School Lider, the event was a truly unforgettable experience for kids, parents, grandparents and many friends.
From an incredible Shofar factory and a gripping magic show, live music and face painting to gift packing for children and local Holocaust survivors, a raffle, arts & crafts, photo booth fun, and a visit from a huge Bumblebee, the carnival brought hundreds of smiles to participants’ faces while spreading the holiday spirit in a very exciting way.
“To be honest, I was truly touched to see my children’s emotions during the magic show,” shared volunteer musician and parent Alexander Sudakov. “They were simply mesmerised, while us, parents, had a chance to catch up on socialising over tea and delicious home-made desserts, knowing that our kids were having the best time ever.”
Organiser Sam Well said, “We had a spontaneous idea of taking the Rosh Hashana spirit and symbolism to the doorsteps of the Russian Sunday School Lider, where there are so many Jewish students from Former USSR. Luckily, the Subbotnik team was warmly welcomed by the school’s Principal Marina Prostakova and Vice-Principal Mikhail Gerdel, who helped us at all stages of planning with great cheer and involved excellent volunteers among the parents of students.”
During the preparation time, the Organising Committee members met at each other’s homes after work, shopped at local markets and baked, decorated the hall and planned every detail to make the carnival a success. And according to numerous photos on the Subbotnik’s Facebook page, the mission was accomplished with flying colours.
“Thanks to the Subbotnik team’s extraordinary energy, dedication and a positive can-do attitude, the Pre-Rosh Hashana Fun Day was one of the most memorable events we’ve held at school. We hope to host many more events together and wish Subbotnik to go from strength to strength,” said Mikhail Gerdel, Vice-President of Russian Sunday School Lider.
Sarah Bendetsky, Subbotnik’s Co-Founder said, “Sometimes, it’s hard to believe what a small group of volunteers can achieve together. Most of us are working parents of young children with plenty of responsibilities… and yet, here we are preparing for our 6th function!”
Established in April 2015 by a group of Russian-Speaking volunteers in Melbourne, the Subbotnik team is currently organising a mobile succah event in Caulfield Park, in addition to their first-ever Shabbat Dinner in Sydney, which will be held on 23 October as part of the International Shabbat Dinner Project, together with Hillel Sydney and FREE Chabad Centre in Bondi.
To find out more about Subbotnik and to help cover the cost of events by donating and volunteering, please contact Sarah Bendetsky on 0468333770, visit the Subbotnik Facebook page or www.subbotnik.org.au or email firstname.lastname@example.org
* Subbotnik – a Russian term for volunteering action commonly held on Saturdays