The Synagogue – Синагога

I visited the synagogue today. While the first 13 years of my life were filled with visits to Temple Beth Am, a reform synagogue in Framingham, Mass., I have never visited an Orthodox synagogue. I was hoping to recognize some of the prayers I knew in my youth but I couldn’t quite follow along. Although I have no idea if my Russian ancestors practiced Orthodoxy, it was fascinating to see and hear what it may have been like for them.

Summer is a sleepy time in Kazan and there was only a small gathering at the synagogue this morning. I am very much looking forward to returning in late September and seeing Kazan in a more active state. I have laid important groundwork this summer and I find myself even more dedicated to and passionate about this project.

Change is in the Air

Fall hath fallen in Russia. A bit early for my taste but I’m thankful for a break from the heat. One day it was the heat of summer and the next, a cool breeze swept through the city bringing autumn with it. Outfits of young (and not-so-young) Russian women have transformed from open-weave tops, micro-mini skirts and platform stilettos to slightly more opaque tops, skinny jeans and platform stilettos. Babushkas are carting buckets of apples instead of berries. The smell of burning wood occasionally overtakes the smell of diesel. College students are returning and the Christian Orthodox are celebrating the autumn harvest. Soon I will be leaving my fair city for Kiev to apply for another visa. I excited to see Ukraine but nervous about the visa process. I realize it’s been a long time since I posted and I have so much to share it’s rather overwhelming. Alas, I’m off to photograph another Tatar family but hopefully tomorrow will bring a more detailed update.

Temple of the Holy Miracle Workers of Yaroslavl

The Temple of the Holy Miracle Workers of Yaroslavl is situated just outside Kazan’s center. It is the only church in Kazan that remained open during the Soviet period- all other churches were either destroyed or repurposed for Soviet causes. All of the icons and relics of Kazan were brought to this church to be safeguarded. Sermons had to be pre-approved by the State. During this time, it was largely the Babushkas (grandmothers) that kept the spirit of the church alive. And to this day, Babushkas tend to the needs of the church.