By COLlive reporter
Ukrainian Jewish billionaire Gennady Bogolyubov, most famous for building the world’s largest Jewish community center in Dnepropetrovsk, is involved in another construction project.
He is helping to fully renovate a historic French chateau in the Brunoy township located in the south-eastern suburbs of Paris, to be used for the legendary Yeshiva Tomchei Tmimim.
The chateau was given by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee to Chabad when the Yeshiva was founded in 1947 by the Frierdiker Rebbe, following the Nazi Holocaust.
With a restricted number of 30 students and an even more restricted financial means, the Yeshiva opened its doors to a bastion of Torah scholarship and Chassidic Jewish life.
Leading it and guiding its students were the Chassidic greats of that generation. Among them were Rabbi Nissan Nemanow, Rabbi Yosef Goldberg, Rabbi Yisroel Noach Belinitzki and Rabbi Nochum Labkowski, of blessed memory.
Some 20 years ago, with a second building erected on the campus, the use of the the historic building was forbidden due to safety building codes and has remained vacant ever since.
As the Yeshiva continued to grow, there was a need for additional space to hold the 300 students who come from around France, the United States and Israel to study under the leadership of Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Yechiel Kalmenson.
Plans were made to make use of the historic structure and Bogolyubov generously donated the majority of the $3.8 million construction budget. The building will be dedicated in memory of his father and named Beis Baruch.
“This building is ancient and most of our bochurim have learned in it,” said Rabbi Mendel Gurevitch, financial director of the Yeshiva.
The building was carefully restored to retain the original architecture. It will include a study hall (zal), classrooms and offices. The old mikvah of the yeshiva was also renovated at a cost of $130,000, as well as the courtyard and parking lot.
Bochurim have recently been calling it “the Altneu building,” borrowing the name from the Old New Synagogue in Prague, Europe’s oldest active synagogue which combined an old and a new congregation.
“Preparations are being made for the inauguration ceremony of the building which will take place in the near future,” Gurevitch said. “We are contacting the thousands of the Yeshiva’s alumni to participate.”