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Bar Mitzvah in Moscow

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The son of a Jewish physician visiting the Soviet Union with his parents celebrated his Bar Mitzvah Saturday in the Central Synagogue in Moscow, marking the first public Bar Mitzvah in the USSR in 65 years. A New York rabbi participated and delivered the sermon. According to reports reaching the Al Tidom Association, Maimon Kuhr, son of Dr. and Mrs. Murray Kuhr of Suffern, New York, chanted the traditional Bar Mitzvah service in the Central Moscow Synagogue this past Saturday, Shabbat Nachmu, the Sabbath of Consolation.

Dr. Kuhr, a prominent upstate New York pediatrician, was in the Soviet Union with a group of American physicians participating in a medical exchange and lecture program in several Soviet cities. Having relatives and friends in the USSR unable to participate in the bay’s Bar Mitzvah in the United States, the Kuhrs decided to celebrate the event in the Soviet Union also.

The ceremony was embellished by the presence of Rabbi Yoacov Pollak, Rabbi of Congregation Shomrei Emunah of Borough Park, Brooklyn, who, while touring the USSR with his wife, had come to the synagogue for the Sabbath services. Rabbi Pollak charged the Bar Mitzvah boy in English and delivered a dynamic and moving sermon to the congregants in Yiddish.

Worshippers at the synagogue were brought to tears of joy when the Bar Mitzvah boy read beautifully from the Torah and chanted the Maftir, an event unparalleled in the Soviet Union since the Communist Revolution over six decades ago. They expressed astonishment to see that the yeshiva student son of an observant American physician visiting the USSR to lecture for Soviet medical personnel could perform the Bar Mitzvah so flawlessly and beautifully.

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