I am a federal judge in Cleveland Ohio, where I belong to two Conservative synagogues and am very active in Jewish community affairs, particularly in the area of Jewish education. I came to Chisinau/Kishinev for a week in mid-May with a colleague from Philadelphia to help train Moldovan judges, under the auspices of the U.S. Department of State.
I wanted to attend Shabbat services Friday, May 18, so I located Chabad, which was a short walk from my hotel. It is a wonderful feeling to walk into a synagogue anywhere in the world and feel at home, and that’s how I felt as soon as I arrived. I don’t speak Russian or Romanian, but I was able to converse a bit in Hebrew until the Rabbi arrived. I had no difficulty following the service in Hebrew. I kept thinking that my great-grandparents must have prayed in a synagogue much like this one before they emigrated to the United States in the late 1800’s. There were many people in attendance, and I was gratified to see a number of young people. Some spoke English, which made communicating easier.
I stayed afterward for a short time to have a little dinner, even though I had eaten earlier in the evening while my colleague and I debriefed our week in Moldova, because I so enjoyed the company. There was a very special spirit that evening. I plan to return to Moldova for additional training sessions with the judges, and I will definitely come back to Chabad for Shabbat services.
Dan Aaron Polster