Purim in Uzbekistan

I was sorry to be missing the Shomrei Purim celebrations. But I was looking forward to celebrating Purim in another country.

We met with Rabbi Abram Ishakov the day before Purim, on Friday. Rabbi Abram is the rabbi of the synagogue in Bukhara, Uzbekistan, a Jewish community of about 100 people.

At that time, he told us that only men attended services on Friday. Women attended on Shabbat morning, sitting in a separate outside balcony. That was not very enticing to the women in our group. However on Purim women and men attend together.

However, when we arrived for Purim services the next evening, there were no women or men. Only Rabbi Abram was there. Turned out that the community had traveled to Khazakstan for a wedding. There would be no Purim service.

Unsatisfied with missing the megillah reading, one member of our group offered to chant the megillah. He had brought the hotel bathrobe to wear as a costume and would, instead, use it as a kittel.

Rabbi Abram began with a Purim song.

Then Jonathan chanted the megillah (or at least a few verses at the start of each chapter.) The rest of us followed along on a scroll with Claymation illustrations.

Rabbi Abram finished by chanting the end of the megillah.

I did not find out how Purim is typically celebrated in Uzbekistan. But Rabbi Abram showed obvious joy about being able to celebrate the holiday and it felt really good for us as well to share Purim with him.

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