The grand, largely demolished Choral Synagogue in Samara, on the Volga River in Russia, is in the process of full reconstruction under the auspices of Chabad. Though work was already under way earlier, a symbolic cornerstone was laid September 30 in a ceremony attended by Russia’s Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar and Samara Oblast governor Dmitry Azarov.
A Chabad news report said the reconstruction would take around two years, to be finished in time to mark the 120th anniversary of the start of the synagogue’s original construction in 1903.
Another Chabad report said the rebuilt structure “will house a large central sanctuary and classrooms for educational programs for all ages, alongside a museum, a youth club, and charitable programs for the elderly and needy.”
The synagogue — a monumental neo-Moorish style building red and white striped brick walls and a tall front tower with a large rose window, was built in 1903–1908 and designed by the Jewish architect Zelman Kleinerman, a graduate of St. Petersburg School for Civil Engineers.
Only the towering front section the building has survived more or less intact over the decades.
See a Russian TV video about the synagogue, featuring drone footage.
The Center for Jewish Art, which visited the synagogue this year during a research trip along the Volga River, writes that the building was closed by the Soviet authorities in 1929.
The building was then “first used as a Jewish club named after the Third International (the Comintern), but after WWII converted into a bakery,” it writes. It was returned to Jewish ownership in the 1990s.