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Bringing in Shabbos in Bulgaria

Ari Greenspan and Ari Z Zivotofsky

There was no eiruv, no Sefer Torah, and the town’s only shul hadn’t had a cleaning in more than 60 years. But that didn’t stop Mishpacha’s intrepid travelers from fulfilling a promise they had made last year: bring Shabbos to the people of Pazhardik, Bulgaria.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

When we journeyed to Plovdiv, Bulgaria, last year, we conducted a Shabbaton in one of the only two functioning shuls in the entire country. It was the first time in recent memory that the Jews of Plovdiv had a community Shabbos with meals, davening, and shiurim. Afterward, we stopped in a small town called Pazhardik. There, smack in the center of town, stood a polished looking building that on the inside was gathering dust. Constructed in 1850, this had been the local shul for decades, a reminder that at times this town’s population was over 30 percent Jewish.

During the Communist era the building was first used as a local history museum, and then it was sporadically used as a warehouse. It had not been used for prayer since the 1940s. Looking through rusty metal grates and cobwebbed windows and stymied by a huge lock, Ari G. decided that this shul would once again hear the singing of Lecha Dodi and the reading of the Torah. A year later that happened, and this is the story.



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