Online kosher, extra rabbis for visiting Jews in Sochi

Mon Feb 17, 2014 3:10am EST
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By Mark Trevelyan

ROSA KHUTOR, Russia (Reuters) - Sochi's lone rabbi has drawn on reinforcements from the United States and shipped in 7,000 kosher meals to help cater for Jewish visitors to the Winter Olympics in Russia, a country where Judaism is reviving after decades of repression.

Speaking virtually no Russian at the time, Ari Edelkopf, a native of California, moved to Sochi 12 years ago with his wife Chani to establish a synagogue. In the run-up to the Olympics, he said he received emails from Jews from around the world, anxious to find out where they could eat kosher food and celebrate the Shabbat, or Sabbath.

"Yes there's a synagogue, there is a mikveh (ritual bath), there is children's education here and there's kosher food and there's Shabbat, so you can come to Sochi, you can spend time here and have all your Jewish needs taken care of," Edelkopf told Reuters in an interview.

Jews from Israel, Russia, Australia, Ukraine and the United States are among those who have gathered to pray and sing together in Sochi and share kosher meals of gefilte fish, chicken and wine.

"That deserves respect and appreciation - I'm sure that took some coordination," said Yossi Sharon, 29, an American of Israeli origin who works for a financial advisory company in Moscow. "It's nice to bring Jews from all over the world together."

Via the website, visitors can place orders for kosher food, which has mainly been sent in from Moscow. They can also find directions to the synagogue and two prayer rooms, equipped with Shabbat candles and Torah scrolls, in hotels in Sochi and in the mountains above the city.


Much of Judaism's revival in Russia has been driven by Chabad-Lubavitch, a worldwide Jewish movement that has flown in 12 rabbinical interns to back up Edelkopf for the duration of the Winter Olympics and Paralympics, which run until March 16.   Continued...