For Jewish residents of Dneprodzerzhinsk, Ukraine, a long-awaited event is soon to occur: the opening of the city’s very own community center.
Named the Beit Baruch Jewish Community Center after Boris Bogolubov, father of businessman and philanthropist Gennady Bogolubov, the new building will offer a combination of the necessary ingredients for a growing Jewish community, covering its activities in the cultural, humanitarian, social and educational spheres. Chief among its uses will be as home to the Beit Reuven Synagogue, named in honor of Chabad-Lubavitch Rabbi Shmuel Kaminetsky, chief rabbi of the Dnepropetrovsk region of which the city is a part.
The local Jewish community, led by Chabad-Lubavitch Rabbi Levi Stambler and chairman Dmitry Tarnopolsky, will hold the building’s inauguration ceremony on Sept. 18. Gennady Bogolubov, chairman of the Jewish community of Dnepropetrovsk, provided much of the funds for the building’s construction, along with the Rohr Family Foundation, which also underwrote Dneprodzerzhinsk’s new Jewish ritual bath.
An exact replica of Lubavitch World Headquarters in Brooklyn, N.Y. – where the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, kept his office and synagogue – the building’s foundation stones were laid two years ago. The stones were once part of a synagogue that originally stood on the site.
The design was chosen in deference to the dedication of Chabad-Lubavitch to sustaining and encouraging Judaism throughout the former Soviet Union and the world.
“A hundred years ago, the great-grandfather of Gennady Bogolubov had participated in constructing a synagogue at this place,” Kaminetsky said in a 2006 ceremony attended by the city’s mayor and an international delegation of Jewish leaders.
“77 years ago, Communists closed the synagogue. But today, grandsons of the Jews who had been expelled during the previous century” are helping rebuild Jewish life in Dneprodzerzhinsk.
The second largest city in the Dnepropetrovsk region of eastern Ukraine, Dneprodzerzhinsk has an estimated Jewish population in excess of 4,000. It’s Jewish community is a member of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Ukraine.