Jun 12, 2018
Shliach Welcomes FIFA Fans

Watch: Rabbi Chaim Danzinger welcomes Jewish soccer fans coming to Rostov to watch the upcoming World Cup games.

By Yehuda Sugar, Chabad.org

If Rostov-on-Don Chabad-Lubavitch Rabbi Chaim Danzinger has his way, thousands of Jewish soccer fans who will descend on his storied town and 10 other historic cities for the upcoming World Cup games in Russia will leave inspired not only by the sporting extravaganza, but by a taste of the ever-burgeoning Jewish communal life in the post-Soviet era.

The International Sports Travel Agencies Association estimates that 10,000 Israelis are expected at the international soccer tournament, held every four years.

Thousands of more Jewish fans are expected to fly in from Europe and as far away as South America for the world-renowned soccer games—also known globally as football—between June 14 and July 15 for what is the most widely viewed and followed sporting event in the world, exceeding even the Olympic Games.

Some of the novelty this year derives from the fact that since its inception in 1930, the tournament was never held in the Soviet Union or in any of the 15 former member republics since its collapse.

Among the visitors will be many Westerners and Israelis who have never been on Russian soil, even though Israel's soccer team did not qualify this year for the challenges. Tickets begin at $105 for a group-stage match and top out at $1,100 for the final.

In Rostov, where 15,000 Jews live among a general population of more than a million people, a spirited Danzinger notes that "it's the first time my city is going to be a major tourist destination of any kind."

He says that the most important point is that "it will be amazing to see so many people come as proud Jews to Russia to buy kosher food, celebrate Shabbat and sing kosher melodies in a place where for 70 years this was not possible."

Rostov-on-Don has the distinction of being the burial place of the fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Sholom DovBer Schneersohn, of righteous memory (1860-1920), and the city for whom a most beloved Chabad Chassidic melody—composed by him—is named.

With World Cup travelers already reserved for Shabbat meals, and traditional song and drink planned for the menu, Danzinger said his hope will be that guests will leave with the soulful tune, known as the "Rostover Nigun", on their lips. He said he planned to introduce the melody as part of his efforts to offer as decidedly a Jewish experience as possible to all between matches.

"It doesn't have to be an experience exclusively dedicated to the sporting event," said Danzinger, who has spent the last 10 years with his wife, Kaila, leading the community also known for being the site of the largest massacre of Russian Jews and others during World War II.

"It will also be a great opportunity to connect and be inspired by local Jews who despite hardships during Soviet times and occupation are embracing their Jewish pasts."

In addition to steering the visitors to the most meaningful historical sites, emissaries in the host cities, like Danzinger, plan to offer opportunities for prayer, study and other mitzvahs, and, of course, kosher food, with Friday-night and Saturday Shabbat meals planned for every city.

In addition to Rostov-on-Don, World Cup host cities include Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Nizhny Novgorod, Samara, Yekaterinburg, Kaliningrad, Volgograd and Saransk.


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Opinions and Comments
One cool Shliach
Amazing energy and style!! Hatzlacha in all you do.

Best, Moshe
(6/12/2018 2:05:01 PM)
(6/12/2018 2:05:53 PM)
Kiddush lubavitch!!
(6/12/2018 3:43:13 PM)
Hello from Sydney
Rabbi Chaim - wishing you hatzlocho

we Love Pizza : )
(6/13/2018 1:32:02 PM)
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