Braving the cold temperatures of a Russian winter, members of Hillel St. Petersburg took to the snow-covered streets of their city to film a buoyant and boisterous Purim version of the Black Eyed Peas' "I Gotta Feeling." Dozens of costumed young people performed synchronized dance numbers in such iconic venues as the central square in front of the Hermitage Museum, attracting coverage by the local media.
"When we were dancing in the streets of St. Petersburg a lot of people took pictures of us and approached to ask what we were doing, some even wanted to join our Purim celebration," says Evgeny Levitin, engagement intern at St. Petersburg Hillel, one of 27 Hillel groups in the former Soviet Union.
This generation of Russian students is far removed from the anti-Semitic depredations experienced by their parents, grandparents and great grandparents. Reflecting the optimism of young people worldwide, they sing:
"We'll scream together Mazal Tov!
Our glass is full to the brim.
With what? Let's fill it with wine
And drink it all up.
And during this Purim we'll change the world!"
Nevertheless, anti-Semitic remarks were posted on sites that carried news reports of their production. "Some of the comments we received were very unpleasant but the majority of them were very supportive and positive," says Ira Pastuhova, St. Petersburg Hillel director. "We didn't mean to provoke anyone with our performance. It was open for anyone and a few of our students even brought a couple of their non-Jewish students to participate. We believe that singing and dancing are the universal languages that everyone can relate to regardless of nationality or religion. We hope that they help unite and bring people together."
To view the film, click here