On the morning of Yom Kippur a few weeks ago, I woke up in a hotel built during the reign of Tsar Nicholas II, marched past the tempting smells of blini and raspberry jam drifting from the dining room, crossed a bridge over the Moscow River, skirted a corner of the Kremlin wall, proceeded along Ulitsa Varvarka past several 17th-century churches and the Znamensky Monastery, dodged sharply dressed Moscovites cruising the sidewalks on their way to work and spotted a gold Star of David atop a squat white dome behind a cluster of other buildings. I dug out my little pocket map. Yes, that would have to be it. The Moscow Choral Synagogue.
Lev Gorn knew that Kehilat Romemu wasn’t a regular minyan when the Torah service began. Rising from their chairs and meditation cushions, the roughly 100 people in attendance last month sang a lilting melody. There was guitar and Middle Eastern tabla drumming. The Torah was passed around from one cradling embrace to the next. When it was returned