Update #3 from Ambassadors to Bulgaria

Shavuah Tov, Dobur Den and Good Afternoon,

We celebrated Shabbat in Plovdiv, an ancient city and contemporary of Troy. This city, which is built upon cities from the past. Today, Plovdiv is the second largest city in Bulgaria and a home to a small Jewish community with a long past in the region. After a short time in the city center, we prepared for a special Shabbat at the Zion Synagogue. The Zion synagogue has not had regular services and been closed for two past years. Joined by members of the community, we filled the synagogue with prayer, song and dance, which it rarely sees. We returned to the hotel for Shabbat dinner, elective sessions and a short reflection on our day.

After a nice sleep-in, we were led in Shabbat morning prayers, where we explored our value of Family in a deeper and richer way. Continuing to focus our program around Family, Responsibility and Leadership, we discussed our roles as ambassadors for the global Jewish community. We first defined our shared mission as ambassadors – returning home acting and advocating for our global family – before creating our individual “job descriptions”.

In the afternoon we left the hotel and immersed ourselves in the culture of Plovdiv’s hip neighborhood, Kappana. This artisan neighborhood is full of boutique stores, coffee shops and lively graffiti. Famous for its relaxed demeanor, the locals even created their own word to describe their lifestyle – Aylak. After exploring the new life of the city, we toured the Old Town, which houses many ancient sites and homes built at the end of the 19th century. We concluded our tour on one of the six hills that surrounds the city for amazing panoramic views of the city.

The next morning we said goodbye to Plovdiv and drove to Sofia to visit children in a hospital. Our value of the day was leadership; leadership for our community and as examples for others. Armed with coloring books, games, toys and much more, we met with non-Jewish kids that can use a smile, a welcomed distraction and a new friend. We colored, chatted, played jenga, built Lego figures and had a lot of laughs along the way. We left happy, a little emotional and fulfilling the important Jewish value of Bikur Cholim.

After a short break, we drove to one of the Jewish Community Center buildings and learned a little bit about the community, it’s history and then saw the Sofia Synagogue. The third largest in Europe, it was constructed in a moorish style and has been a home for the Jewish community for over 100 years. We learned more about the history of Bulgaria, and Sofia specifically, on a walking tour where we saw walls from the ancient city, the president’s palace, beautiful cathedrals and much more.

As we near the end of our program, we are excited to continue to build friendships and share the rest of our experience with you!

Ambassadors to Bulgaria

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