The Human Side of the Story

For the week ending 10 July 2010 / 27 Tammuz 5770

Catching the Seven Forty

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

When a new kosher restaurant recently opened in Moscow there was almost as much excitement about its unusual name as there was about the fact that it was the sixth kosher eatery to be established in the Russian capital.

"Seven Forty" is the name of the restaurant – a name with an interesting background. This is the name of a Russian folk song that is familiar to almost all Russian Jews. One explanation given for this strange appellation takes us back to the dark days of the Czars when it was forbidden for Jews to live in the Ukrainian port city of Odessa. If they had businesses or worked there they could be there only from six in the morning till eight in the evening. In order to comply with this regulation all Jews had to be at the railway station at exactly 7:40 to board the train for departure from the city.

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