National and regional leaders, Jewish citizens and the general public celebrated the restoration of a 100-year-old synagogue in Kazan, the capital and largest city of the Republic of Tatarstan in Russia.
The event last week included the participation of Tatarstan’s president, Rustam Minnikhanov; mayor of Kazan Ilsur Metshin; mufti of Tatarstan Kamil Hazrat Samigullin; senior Russian Orthodox cleric of the region Vladimir Samoilenko; Chief Rabbi of Russia Berel Lazar; Rabbi Yitzchak Gorelik, chief rabbi and Chabad-Lubavitch emissary in Kazan, who arrived in the country nearly 20 years ago; R. Alexander Barda, president of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Russia; and Chabad rabbis from Russian cities and locales.
Hundreds of Jews then watched Rabbi Lazar hang a mezuzah on the doorpost of the historic synagogue, while musicians from Russia and Israel played outside. The inside of the synagogue was open to visitors and guests, some of whom got a personal tour of the new facility.
The synagogue, built in 1915, saw hard times during the Communist era, when it was taken over by Soviet authorities.
It was returned to the Jewish community in 1996, when 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.
Since the year 2000, the city has been undergoing a complete renovation of everything from buildings and stores to the airport and city streets. As such, the current government helped defray some of the costs of the synagogue reconstruction as well. Other funds were raised by the Jewish community there.
In the afternoon, the mayor hosted Lazar, Gorelik and dozens of municipal rabbis in Russia who attended the day’s proceedings.