CHELYABINSK, Russia – Chelyabinsk is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its Synagogue with a series of festivities which got underway today. In addition to involving Mayor Mikhail Yurevich and other regional officials, the opening event involved Chief Rabbi of Russia Berel Lazar and other representatives of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia.
The leaders also participated in a meeting with the region's Governor Pyotr Sumin, who had helped the local community restore its Synagogue by allotting a sum of 200,000 rubles (about $7,000).
Rabbi Meir Kirsch, the Chief Rabbi of Chelyabinsk and a Chabad Lubavitch emissary, delivered an address to the audience and presented certificates of recognition to donors who supported the Synagogue's construction. Guests enjoyed a guided tour of the two-story building. Festivities are to continue in the city's Drama Theater, where a gala concert is to take place tonight.
The Chelyabinsk Synagogue was originally built in 1905 with funds provided by local Jews. Having functioned as a spiritual center for local Jews until 1930, the Soviet government eventually turned it into a concert hall and then, in 1937, a factory for producing artificial limbs. Finally, in 1992, the Jewish community regained legal title to this property.
The Synagogue is recognized as a monument of architecture, offering excursions for international travelers. It is visited by 100 worshipers daily, welcoming as many as 500 persons on holidays.
Today, it also serves as Jewish community center and hosts a Jewish library, women’s club and Sunday school, all of which are run by the Jewish community of Chelyabinsk. Ohr Avner Chabad Kindergarten and Jewish Day School also operate in the city. Headed by Rabbi Meir Kirsch and Chairman Abram Zhuk, this Urals center is home to an estimated 10,000 Jews.
The Jewish community of Chelyabinsk is full member of FJC Russia.