Purim in Kharkov has taken place at the circus for 25 years, ever since Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries arrived in this eastern city in Ukraine in 1990. This year, the theme of “Circus on Ice” brought a huge crowd out to the festivities, which served as a welcome respite from the economic and political stress the city and its residents have grappled with for two years now.
More than 2,000 mishloach manot (food packages) were given out to Jewish individuals and families. Tzedakah boxes were on hand so matanot l’evyonim donations could be made for the poor.
Or Avner Day School students presented a special dance in honor of Jewish unity. Dressed as an Eskimo, Rabbi Levi Raices of Chabad of Kharkov read the Megillah as clowns skated around him, and the cheder and yeshivah boys made raucous noise each time Haman’s name was mentioned.
Monkeys, clowns, bears, sea lions, emus and pelicans performed to Jewish music as the crowd enjoyed a unique performance in the spirit of the holiday.