GENERAL & WEB
Online version of a book by Michael Beizer that tracks the history of synagogues in the countries of the former Soviet Union, as well as their suppression, the restitution process, and the restoration of synagogues after 1991. The book includes photographs and information on dozens of sites. Note: the book came out in 2002, so some of the material is out of date.
Le Dor Va Dor Project
Project documenting Jewish cemeteries in Russia, established in 2007 by young enthusiasts.
Web site about Jewish history, life & heritage in East Prussia (now divided among Lithuania, Russia & Poland)
Home to the largest Jewish community in Russia, with many resources for local Jews and visitors.
Grand domed synagogue, the main synagogue in Russia, designed by the Austrian architect Semeon Eibuschitz with S.K. Rodionov. The construction of the temple was completed in 1891, but it was not formally inaugurated and open to the public until 1906, after further renovation and architectural work by the noted architect Roman Klein.
See this documentary film (in Russian) about the synagogue:
BABUSHKIN (MYSOVAYA; MYSOVSK)
A stop on the Trans-Siberian Railway on the southern shore of Lake Baikal. There is a small, ruined Jewish cemetery, established in around 1825 and used until 1937.
Initiative spearheaded by Russian-born, Canadian author Vladimir Rott. The web site has a list of names of people found on the surviving gravestones. See the JHE post on this project.
A locally-funded restoration project is set to place the synagogue at the heart of Jewish communal life in this town in southwest Russia. The building was constructed in 1905 and nationalized by the Soviet regime in 1929.
Dzerzhinskogo Street, 41
Tel: +7 (484) 292 6690
This pre-World War I synagogue was confiscated by the Soviet authorities in 1926 since when it has been used by a trade union and as a college for cultural workers. With the revival of the town’s small Jewish community, the synagogue was returned to it in 2013. A two-year renovation program culminated in the rededication of the building, which boasts a distinctive dome. The first floor has a cultural and educational center and a kosher dining room.
Profsoyuznaya Ulitsa, 15
Kazan, Tatartstan 420111
Tel: +7 843 292 1724
Fax: +7 843 292 1724
Built in the Russian neoclassical revival style fashionable in the decade before World War I, this synagogue in the capital of the Muslim-majority republic of Tatarstan was denuded of its religious and cultural identity while in the hands of the Soviet authorities. On taking the building back into communal ownership in 1996, after decades of use as a centre for educators, the Jewish community even found a portrait of Lenin incorporated into the wall. Thanks to public and other funding, extensive restoration and renovation was undertaken allowing the synagogue to celebrate its centenary with an elegantly refurbished façade and a lavishly decorated interior featuring a heavy, carved wooden ark.
Today’s Jewish community uses the so-called Soldiers’ Synagogue, built in 1872 and now the only functioning synagogue in the city. It has simple facades with tall arched windows and small cupolas at the corners of the roof. Damaged in anti-Jewish riots in 1905, it was renovated and restructured in 1913-14 under the direction of the St. Petersburg artist-architect Jacob Germanovich Gevirtsa, who specialized designing synagogues. It was nationalized in 1935 and used for a decade as a factory. It was returned to Jewish ownership in the early 1990s, after which it was refurbished, restored and rededicated in 2005. See the building’s history on the Jewish community’s web site.
Ulitsa Isakovskogo, 9
Tel: +7 (481) 238 0118
More than 80 years after it was taken over by the Soviet authorities, Smolensk’s renovated synagogue reopened in 2012. It was built in the shadow of the 16th Century fortress surrounding the closest Jewish community to the town of Lubavitch. The building hosts the Beis Malkin Jewish Community Center and the Beis Menachem synagogue.
Grandly ornate, Moorish-style synagogue with distinctive tall dome, consecrated on Dec. 8, 1893. The web page (on the Jewish community web site) provides a detailed history of the synagogue, in the context of the history of the Jewish community. It includes pictures and architectural designs.
Part of the Great Choral Synagogue complex, this synagogue was dedicated in 1886. It reopened in 2015 after five years of renovation work. (Click HERE to see videos.) This web page gives its history (and more can be found on the web page for the Great Choral Synagogue): “Its stucco ceiling was created by sculptor Moisei Anoli; Aron-ha-Kodesh was made by cabinet-maker Berman and gilder Solomon Antovil. The Small synagogue functioned as Temporary synagogue until the Grand Synagogue prayer hall was ready (1893). In 1894, when the seven Jewish chapels officially existing in the city were closed down by Government’s decree, the Small Synagogue began to be used as Chassidic merchants’ chapel. It has remained Chassidic up to this day.”
38 Ruza Luksmburg Street
The Great Choral Synagogue in this town in western Siberia was built in 1902. Confiscated by the Soviet regime, it was returned to Jewish community ownership in 1999. A decade later, It was completely restored inside and out and rededicated in 2010. The restoration included placing a new on the central tower — the original dome had been removed. In addition to a prayer hall, the complex now includes a community center, classrooms, a library, children’s playrooms, a mikveh, a Judaica shop and a cafe.
The architect, Israel-based Ignat Feldblum, posted a Facebook gallery showing the renovation of the building and its completed form, as well as pictures on his web site.
Praporshchika Komarova Street, 5
Vladivostok, 690091 Russia
Tel : +7 (423) 279 0207
Built in 1916, the synagogue was handed over to the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia in 2005. The building had been confiscated by the Soviet authorities and used as a candy factory. Following an extensive restoration process it was reopened in 2015. It now serves as the Siberian town’s only place of worship for the small Jewish community.