By COLlive reporter and JTA
Lubavitchers have already learned that when Ukrainian Jewish billionaire and philanthropist Gennady Bogolubov pledges, he delivers. The Shluchos enjoyed his commitment this week when it was announced that he’s giving $500 to each of their families.
And so is happening with his most ambitious idea (yet): creation of the Menorah Center, a 400,000 square foot Jewish community center that will be the largest in the former Soviet Union and perhaps the world.
As new photos sent to COLlive.com Tuesday show, the 20-story building with 7 terraced roofs is in full construction mode above the existing Chabad synagogue on Shalom Aleichem Street in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine.
The $70 million complex is being funded by Bogolubov, his partner in the Privat group industrial holding Igor Kolomoysky, and metals magnate Viktor Pinchuk. The three Jewish businessmen are among Ukraine’s richest men.
The Menorah Center will house the headquarters of Bogolubov’s charitable foundation on its top floor, as well as the nerve center of the Ukraine-wide Federation of Jewish Communities and a host of local organizations.
The center will have a Holocaust museum, kosher hotel and a lobby with an elevator programmed to allow observant passengers to ride on Shabbos.
There will be apartments for visiting Jewish educators and community workers, as well as office space to rent for Jewish-related entities, such as the Jewish Agency for Israel, an Israeli consular office and other organizations.
Dnepropetrovsk was the Rebbe’s home before he fled the Soviet Union. His father, the saintly Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson OBM, was arrested 50 yards from where the community is now rebuilding the facade of his home and placing a memorial.
The city’s Chief Rabbi Shmuel Kaminetsky said the Rebbe wanted to see the community revived as a source of pride for the Chabad movement worldwide and a new center of gravity for the emissaries and local adherents that dominate much of Jewish life across the former Soviet Union.
“For many Chabadniks in the whole world, Dnepropetrovsk is a very special place because of the history,” Kaminetsky said. “We give the rebbe all the credit because he sent me here and he gave me a plan, and told me how to work and gave us blessings.”