Four months have already passed since I began working at my project, the Jewish Kindergarten Maccabi Lauder. I chose this project because Jewish culture and traditions really interest me and I want to know more about this. So, when I found this project, I came to Samara from my native Lithuania without hesitation. Now I understand that I am where I was meant to be. Additionally, I will also get to know the Russian culture better here, because I am so close to it.
Despite the fact that the kindergarten is Jewish, all the children speak Russian. Every day they learn a few new words in Hebrew. Russian children as well as Jewish attend the kindergarten, and also children of other nationalities.
My work consists of looking after the children every day. Generally I do everything in the kindergarten :) I help everyone with what they need. I read, draw and make festive decorations with the children, and I also sometimes wash the dishes and help lay the table… And sometimes I even feed the children.
The food in the kindergarten is kosher. The difference between this and usual food is that it is made in a specific way. For example, you must not prepare meat and dairy dishes on the same plate, and you even need to keep them in a a different place.
In our group the children are fairly grown up- 4-5 years old- so you can communicate with them a lot; they get used to the new person quickly. I am therefore very happy that I had the opportunity to choose the group with these older children. In the kindergarten there are are also very little children (2-3 years old) and older ones (5-6 years old). When it is someone’s birthday, all the children are brought together in the hall and celebrate.
In terms of events, in the kindergarten they celebrate all Jewish holidays. Every Friday they mark Shabbat here- when the sun starts to set, in our group we light candles, read the Torah and break the national bread, Challah. At the start of the year, Jewish people have a lot of holidays, the first of which is, of course, New Year- Rosh Hashanah. The year starts in mid-September. Every time the children take part in a programme of dancing, reciting poems and singing songs.
I have the opportunity to attend the holidays and all events that go on in the kindergarten with the children. This allows me to get to know the culture, specifics of national traditions, and even Hebrew more closely. Now I can already count; I know the alphabet and I’m learning new words. I think that by the end of the project I will be able to speak Hebrew :)