Wedding came during the yearly FSU-wide Yachad Torah-study program trip
They came on chartered flights from five former Soviet countries, celebrating a year of Torah study with their rabbis and rebbetzins in more than 100 cities. The group was headed to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates for a week of inspiration, celebration and, the highlight of the trip, the wedding of two participating students, Alexander and Alina Rudenko.
For the 600 young men and women, the Dubai experience comes after a year of participating in weekly Yachad Torah-study sessions with their local Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries. Yachad, which runs programming for young people aged 18 to 28 throughout Russia, Ukraine and the Baltic States, is led by Moscow-based Chabad Rabbi Mendy Wilansky, youth director of the Federation of Jewish Communities of the CIS and Baltic States.
“The first generation to grow up after the fall of the Iron Curtain came to visit Dubai, to see how it’s possible to walk around with a kippah and tzitzit, as proud Jews, even in an Arab country,” says Rabbi Berel Lazar, chief rabbi and head Chabad emissary of the Russian Federation. “We were welcomed with open arms, and in my eyes, this is the vision of the end of days.”
The Rudenko wedding, attended by the Yachad group and members of the local Dubai Jewish community, took place on Oct. 20 under the desert skies outside of Dubai and was the largest Jewish wedding ever held in the UAE. Lazar served as the officiating rabbi.
The next day, an elegant dinner was held at the Expo in Dubai, headlined by His Excellency Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, the UAE’s minister of tolerance; Emirati businessman Mohamed Alabbar; Jewish community leader David Dubinsky; and Rabbi Levi Duchman, director of Chabad of the United Arab Emirates.