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The History Of Moscow Religious Jewish Community

Chief Rabbi of Russia Rabbi Adolf Shayevich

Chief Rabbi of Russia Rabbi Adolf Shayevich

In 1886 the chairman of Jewish community Lazar Polyakov had purchased some grounds in Spasoglinischevsky Lane (Archipov Street), where a new building of the Choral Synagogue was erected in 1891 under the direction of Architect Simon Eibushitz. The synagogue was assumed to be ready for March of 1891, but the new Moscow General-Governor Prince Sergey Aleksandrovich had decreed the expulsion of the Jewish population from the capital. For two years, Moscow Jewry was reduced ten times and in 1893 it numbered only 7 thousand people. The revolution of 1905 changed the situation. The tsar's manifesto of October 17, 1905 proclaimed freedom of religion and at the beginning of 1906, Moscow authorities permitted to open the Great Choral Synagogue on Spasoglinischevsky Lane for prayer. The community board had conducted necessary restoration works, in which the well-known Moscow Architect R. Klein was involved. He introduced to the decoration of the large prayer sanctuary the refinement of modern art. The solemn opening of Moscow Synagogue was held on June 1, 1906. Yakov Maze was the rabbi of the Moscow Choral Synagogue, a strong spiritual leader, who defended the interests of the Jewish community for 30 years. After the revolution of 1917 the Evsekzia demanded to converse the synagogue into a workers club. Rabbi Maze raised his voice to protect of the temple and succeeded in achieving the right to save the synagogue. During the hardest years Jews had prayed here, addressing to G-d with faith and hope. In 1936 Soviet regime have closed the last Jewish school in Moscow. During 1937-38 the biggest part of educational and cultural Jewish organizations were closed too. Begun in 1917 the state persecution of religious Jews was increased. So, in 1938 the court under the Moscow Rabbi Sh. Medalie and some of the members of Jewish community was hold. During the September holidays of 1948 in the Moscow Synagogue the Jews solemnly welcomed the ambassador of Israel Golda Meir. The narrow street was filled with people, the white and blue flags fluttered all over the crowd, and national songs were heard. However, at the end of 1948 anti-Semitism became the main focus of Stalin's domestic policy. At that time when Rabbi I. Levin become the Chief Rabbi of Moscow, he had opened the yeshiva "Kol Jaacov". In 1960-1980 the process of revival have taken place in spite of the resistance of authorities. It was connected, first of all, to Zionist movement. Thousands of Moscow Jews have made aliya this time. Since 1983 Rabbi Adolph Shayevich took the place of Chief rabbi of Russia. Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt has become the Chief Rabbi of Moscow. Now, at the end of century, the Great Choral Synagogue has remained the score of the Jewish life in Moscow in spite of presence of many Jewish cultural, charities, educational and other organizations. Words of the first Moscow rabbi Solomon Minor, which where said at the hallowing of the synagogue in 1870, came true. He said: “The House of God should become an inexhaustible source of light and spiritual force for us. It must be a radiant luminary for us, so that its action would be felt even by our descendants”.
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World-known music festival "The Stars of the White Nights". Artistic director - Valery Gergiev (Mariinky (Kirov) Opera and Ballet)World-known music festival "The Stars of the White Nights".
Artistic director - Valery Gergiev (Mariinky (Kirov) Opera and Ballet)

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