The century-old synagogue in Kazan, central Russia, celebrated its centenary with a festive ceremony September 3 rededicating the building following a restoration and renovation that included a elegantly refurbished facade and lavishly decorated new interior featuring a heavy carved wooden ark.
…the attempt to refurbish the building, which was in utter disrepair, was made with the help of old documentation. The interior and exterior have been dramatically spruced up in warm colors and wood tones.
The timing, just before Rosh Hashana, makes the synagogue another example in our High Holidays series highlighting synagogues that were inaugurated or re-dedicated after restoration around the Jewish New Year. (See previous posts on the synagogues in Versailles, and in Budapest and Sofia.)
Kazan, about 800 km east of Moscow, is the capital of Russia’s primarily Muslim Tartarstan autonomous republic. The synagogue, a three-storey building, was inaugurated in 1915, but it was nationalized and shut down by the Soviet government in 1929. It was turned into an educators’ center, the House of Teachers, and functioned as such for decades.
The building was returned to Jewish ownership in 1996 but retained none of its former synagogue character. Its facade, painted blue, had been stripped of decorative elements. After restitution, it was used by the Jewish community, which, like most Jewish communities in Russia forms part of the Chabad movement, and some renovation work was done on the interior.
According to Chabad, funding for the final stages of renovation came from a government grant allocated by Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov as well as Jewish sources.
Abut 600 people, including government, Christian and Muslim VIPs, attended the rededication, which including the affixing of a mezuzah on the door. The celebration including an interfaith meeting and also kicked off a Limmud festival and Jewish music festival.