Kaluga is a Russian city located 150 kilometers southwest of Moscow. For close to 100 years, the communists did not allow Jews to come and daven there. Thus, this magnificent edifice lay hollow and dormant for all this time—silent witness to a decaying Jewish life all around it.
Until last week, when a growing Jewish community inaugurated this historical shul. It will now once again serve as a home for Torah and tefillah for the Jews of Kaluga.
The growth has been slow but steady; as the neshamos of these Jews have been reawakened through the monumental efforts of caring Jews.
A festive chanukas habayis saw the attendance of the Rabbi Berel Lazar, Chief Rabbi of Russia, who affixed a mezuzah at the main entrance to the shul, hundreds of members of the Jewish community, Rabbi Mendel Zaklos, regional Rav who has overseen this great growth—including the restoration of the shul—and representatives of international Jewish organizations.
The Chief Rabbi notes that this year is Hakhel, one in which Jews gather to reaffirm their belief in Hashem. It is no coincidence that this special gathering takes place at this time.
Rabbi Lazar gave a tour of the sprawling center to Anatoly Aratomov, mayor of Kaluga. It encompasses a large, cavernous shul, a library, a soon-to-be-completed mikveh, lecture rooms, and chessed offices—to serve the thousands of Jews living in the area.
The mayor who welcomed this growth pledged his assistance as this community goes on to greater growth.
It was a great day for this area which is seeing Jewish life thrive once again.