Synagogue Russia reopened after closure of 80 years


Eastern Europe


Jewish boys at the opening ceremony of the synagogue. Photo Federation of Jewish Communities of the CIS

Since Sunday, a century-old synagogue in Russia has been open again after over 80 years of closure. The Bryansk synagogue had not been used as a religious house of prayer since 1939.

The opening ceremony occurred on Sunday, IRP reports. It was led by the rabbi of Bryansk, Menachem Mendel Zaklas and the chairman of the Jewish community, Lev Moiseevich Linkov. Also, several politicians were present when the ribbon was cut.

The Bryansk synagogue was built in 1891, the Jewish centre in Moscow writes. However, in 1939, it was transferred to a garment factory club. Later, it became the property of the Regional Council of Trade Unions. It took until 2011 before the building was returned to the Jewish community again. The community started restoring the synagogue. After ten years, it is suited to serve as a centre of spiritual and cultural community life, IRP writes.


During the restoration, construction workers found old books, for example, prayer books, the Torah and the Talmud, the Bryansk rabbi, Menachem Mendel Zaklas, said during the opening ceremony. "These holy books have been hidden from us for over a hundred years. Books seem to stand and wait for us."

According to Rabbi Alexander Boroda, also present at the grand opening of the synagogue, this century marks the "start of a new Jewish life in Bryansk." He points out that Jewish religious and cultural activities reappear. "Now, there is a Jewish kindergarten and school, leisure clubs, youth programs, the community openly and solemnly celebrates all Jewish holidays", he illustrates. He calls the opening of the synagogue a "very joyful and important event."

Other Jews are not as optimistic about the future of the community in Russia. Former chief rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt has repeatedly warned the Jewish community to leave the country "while it is still possible."



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