Celebrations | Ancient Russian synagogues rededicated

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Two ancient synagogues that Soviet authorities confiscated in rural Russia have been rededicated as Jewish houses of worship.

One rededication occurred earlier this week in Voronezh, in southern Russia, at a 110-year-old synagogue that was nationalized and turned into a textile factory. The renovation cost $2.5 million; funding came primarily from the Russian-Jewish billionaire German Khan.

The week before, a rededication took place in the Black Sea city of Krasnodar at a ceremony led by Rabbi Berel Lazar, a chief rabbi of Russia, and Rabbi Avraam Ilyaguyev, head of religious services for Mountain Jews at the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia.

The Krasnodar Jewish community began renovating the synagogue seven years ago. The building, which cost several hundred thousand dollars to reconstruct with funds raised locally, now has a prayer hall for 500 as well as a day-care center and Sunday school.

The rededication of the Voronezh synagogue, which was returned to the community 26 years ago, drew hundreds of guests, including the chief rabbi of Moscow, Pinchas Goldschmidt.

“The vision of the Valley of Dry Bones is being realized before our eyes in these ancient communities,” said Goldschmidt, who is also the president of the Conference of European Rabbis. “The demand for Jewish education and Torah classes is only increasing.” — jta