Two more synagogues in Russia — in Kaluga and St. Petersburg — have been reopened with gala ceremonies after refurbishment to service active congregations. (We reported earlier on the recent reopening of the synagogue in Kazan.)
The Grand Synagogue in Kaluga, designed by designed by the architect N. I. Novouspenskii and built in 1912-13, reopened October 8, almost 90 years since it was last used for worship.
The web site CrownHeights.info writes that the building originally only served as a synagogue until 1926.
At that point, the building was handed over, first to the labor union and then to a college of fine arts, and all Jewish activities there stopped. It was not until only two years ago that the region administration made a decision to return the building to its historical owners. Since then, the local Jewish community with the help of FJC (Federation of Jewish communities of the CIS) conducted major renovations, both of the building interior, that had to have all new communications installed and the facade, that was considerably run down and depleted.
It said that in addition to a place of prayer, the synagogue will also host a center for the elderly, a children’s’ Sunday school, a kosher cafeteria, and a library.
The Small Synagogue in St. Petersburg — built in 1886 and the oldest synagogue in the city — reopened after Rosh Hashanah after a four-year renovation.
The web site of the St. Petersburg Jewish community writes:
The Small Synagogue of St. Petersburg is located in the backyard of the Grand Choral Synagogue yet was actually built 7 years earlier, in 1886. Initially, there was the Hasidic Merchant Prayer Room. Back in the Soviet Union times, the Small Synagogue played the role of the ultimate stronghold of the Jewish tradition, heart and home of the Jewish life in St. Petersburg. The Small Synagogue never closed even under the World War II siege. Synagogue goers even managed to save all of its unique furniture. The Perestroyka years have brought numerous young Jews seeking their national roots into the Small Synagogue.
The Small Synagogue has always been full of flourishing life. However the building which had never been properly renovated, started to weaken.
A great deal of work was done in those four years. The facade and roof went through a major overhaul. All engineering communications were replaced. The interior was completely restored, including the Aron Kodesh, unique figured ceilings and parquet floor. The windows and doors were completely remastered. Historical chandeliers and lusters were renovated. The Small Synagogue is reverted to the original look, exactly as designed by the founders, almost 130 years ago.
According to the Federation of Jewish Communities in the CIS, major funding for the renovation, which began in 2011, came from Mrs. Lili Safra, in memory of her late husband, the late banker and philanthropist Edmond Safra.