The Jewish Community in
Helsinki, Finland seemed to me warm and "megubash". There seems to
be cooperation between the Chabad and the community. There is a very
active couple there as Shlichim of Beni Akiva who work very hard. I
was there on a Shabbat when there was a bat mitzvah. After shul, the
mother of the bat mitzvah girl made an effort to come over to me and
tell me I was very welcome to join in the community sit down
Kiddush. That was very nice.
Avi Hovav the caterer speaks
English and Hebrew. He had already invited me to the Kiddush! The
conf organizers hired him to provide me with food at the hotel and
even at a dinner in a restaurant. Privately I purchased food from
him for Shabbat. It was delicious, plentiful and prepared in the
best of taste.
There is a hotel right next
to the community center/synagogue. A Radisson I believe. I did not
stay there but the rabbi told me they are familiar with Shabbat
stuff like opening doors, etc.
Right next to the community
center is a small shop with kosher supplies. The variety was small.
Some cold cuts and salads. And packaged goods. For me, Avi was the
choice for Shabbat. I had a fridge in my room and he gave me paper
plates and cutlery.
In March, I stayed in a very
small but lovely hotel about a four minute walk from the community
center shul. It was where my meetings took place. The Hotel Helka.
What was great about it was that it was a VERY low tech building.
No sensors in the room, regular lights, and plugs. The only problem
was the electronic door. I was able to tape up the door and
leave it open when I left. I put my valuables in the hotel safe. The
main entrance to the hotel does have an automatic door. But the
adjoining restaurant had a regular door and from 12:00 on Shabbat
the restaurant was open so coming on and going out was not even a
problem, the staff was also very very nice.