Moscow is home to people of many nationalities. Muscovites of Jewish origin have contributed greatly to the development of the city they live in. Historically, the Jewish community has preferred to settle in neighbourhoods situated not far from the synagogues, namely Spasoglinishchevsky LaneRussian: Spasoglinischevskiy pereulok or Спасоглинищевский переулок, Bolshaya Bronnaya StreetRussian: Bolshaya Bronnaya ulitsa or Большая Бронная улица and Maryina RoshchaRussian: Марьина Роща. Specific amenities including Jewish cultural and educational institutions, kosher shops and restaurants have been constructed recently around Jewish prayer houses.
SETTLEMENTS AND CULTURAL CENTRES
There are approximately 15 Jewish communities in the Russian capital concentrated in old suburbs dating back to the 19thcentury, such as CherkizovoRussian: Черкизово, VsekhsvyatskoyeRussian: Всехсвятское, Maryina Roshcha and others. The notion of the “Jewish Pale” existed at the time, and it was easier for Jews to be overlooked by the police in the suburbs. Today, 100% Jewish streets exist in these areas, and an entire Jewish neighbourhood has emerged in Maryina Roshcha in the vicinity of the Jewish MuseumRussian: Evreyskiy muzey or Еврейский музей and Tolerance CentreRussian: Tsentr tolerantnosti or Центр толерантности. It is not very different to similar neighbourhoods in Europe, with its own system of religious, cultural and public services. Here, there is the Moscow Jewish Community CentreRussian: Moskovskiy evreyskiy obschinnyi tsentr or Московский еврейский общинный центр , probably the heart of Jewish Moscow. During Shabbat, this neighbourhood turns into a typical Jewish quarter, with no transportation, hasids dressed in white, children with long side locks and the special mood associated with Saturdays in the Jewish culture.
Located at 7/2 Bolshaya Nikitskaya StreetRussian: Bolshaya Nikitskaya ulitsa or Большая Никитская улица is the Jewish Cultural CentreRussian: Evreyskiy kulturnyi tsentr or Еврейский культурный центр, a place of leisure for adults and kids alike, attended by Jewish people and by many others. This is a concert venue which often hosts concerts and movie screenings, meetings with famous people, exhibitions and even auctions. The centre has many groups and clubs for visitors of all ages, along with an early childhood education program for young visitors.
The Gilel Youth Organization CentreRussian: Tsentr molodyozhnoy organizatsii «Gilel» or Центр молодёжной организации «Гилель», located not far from the Grand Choral SynagogueRussian: Horalnaya sinagoga or Хоральная синагога at 1/13/6/2 Pokrovka StreetRussian: ulitsa Pokrovka or улица Покровка, is another place popular with local Jewish people. In the neighbourhood, you will find the synagogue, a kosher bakery and residential streets inhabited by Jewish people. This neighbourhood is always crowded, and there are many fun things to do around here. Young people have plenty of ways to spend their leisure time, including community service opportunities, cultural events, clubs and associations, sport, strolls and fun activities.
Areas dating back to the 17th and 18th-century associated with the Jewish culture are located in the city centre. During the reign of Peter I the Greatreigned from 1682 till 1725, Jewish entrepreneurs, such as merchant N. Notkin and the renowned apothecary A. Rut, settled in the German QuarterRussian: Nemetskaya sloboda or Немецкая слобода, in the area of what is currently Baumanskaya StreetRussian: Baumanskaya ulitsa or Бауманская улица. The reforms introduced by Empress Catherine IIEmpress of Russia from 1762 until 1796 the Great made it possible for Jewish people to settle in Glebovskoye podvorye in ZaryadyeRussian: Глебовское подворье Зарядья, in the area of Varvarka StreetRussian: ulitsa Varvarka or улица Варварка. Most of the Jews had settled here by the end of the 18th century, many of them having come to Moscow after the disintegration of Poland. This area was lively, with workshops, street-stands, market stalls and residential buildings. The first synagogue attended by painter Isaac Levitanadvanced the genre of the #mood landscape# was built here in 1870. The building has not survived, but the Grand Choral Synagogue is just around the corner. A vast recreational area with a park and a concert hall will soon be built where Russia’s first Jewish ghetto once was.
The Jewish people of Moscow have been openly establishing prayer houses and religious communities since the mid-19th century. The first Jewish cemetery, which was then located in Dorogomilovsky DistrictRussian: Dorogomilovskiy rayon or Дорогомиловский район on the bank of the Moskva River, has since been replaced by Stalinist buildingsbuilt from the late 1930s to the mid-1950s during the reign of Joseph Stalin, mainly in the style of neoclassicism along Kutuzovsky AvenueRussian: Kutuzovskiy prospekt or Кутузовский проспект.
MUSEUMS AND LANDMARKS
The Jewish Museum and Tolerance Centre located in the building of the Bakhmetyev garageRussian: Бахметьевский гараж at 11/1 Obraztsovaya StreetRussian: Obraztsovaya ulitsa or Образцовая улица is one of the most interesting and unusual centres in Russia in terms of technology. This complex, created by Ralph Appelbaum Associates, comprises 12 theme-based pavilions, all fully equipped with the latest technology. The museum ensures all appropriate conditions for interactive viewings, including panoramic monitors and audiovisual devices, touch screens and many other state-of-the-art technological achievements for projections of rare documents and photographic and video archives.
The chronology of the museum exhibitions embraces the history of the Jewish people in Russia from the reign of Catherine II the Great to the present times. The exhibitions are devoted to the history of Moscow Jews and to the role that Russian Jews played in Russian and European life, with a special focus on the traditional Jewish lifestyle. In addition to the museum, this cultural complex comprises the centres of tolerance, as well as educational, children’s and research centres. Exhibitions of paintings and of photographs and excursions in Russian, English and Hebrew are also on offer here. The centre has a room featuring the Chabad Library as well as other documents and a unique souvenir shop. Movie screenings and meetings, lectures and master classes are also part of the events calendar.
The Jewish Legacy and Holocaust MuseumRussian: Muzey evreyskogo naslediya i Holokosta or Музей еврейского наследия и Холокоста located at 53, Kutuzovsky Avenue is an integral part of the historical and architectural monument dedicated to the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945 on Poklonnaya GoraRussian: Поклонная гора. Two main exhibitions are located in the lower level of the Memorial Synagogue constructed in remembrance of the 6 million Jews who died in WWII. One of them is the museum of the history of the Jews in Russia, the other is a tribute to the memory of the people that suffered the horrors of Nazi concentration camps, fought on the frontlines of WWII and gave 150 of recognised Heroes of the Soviet Union. The Museum also offers its visitors frequent lectures and movie screenings, along with educational, secular and charity events.
COMMUNITES AND SYNAGOGUES
Ashkenazi, Sephardi and Reform Jews have been holding religious services in the Memorial SynagogueRussian: Memorial'naya sinagoga or Мемориальная синагога on Poklonnaya Gora that is located at 53, Kutuzovsky Avenue since the autumn of 1988. Its interior is coloured with severe and solemn tones, while the detailed sculpture work was made by Israeli sculptor Frank Meisler and designed by architects Moshe Zarhy and V. Budayev.
One of the best known Orthodox Jewish synagogues, the Moscow Choral Synagogue, is located at 10, Bolshoy Spasoglinishchevsky LaneRussian: Bolshoy Spasoglenischevskiy pereulok or Большой Спасогленищевский переулок. This old Jewish prayer house commissioned by the head of the Jewish community Lazar Polyakov was built in 1891 by architect S. S. Eybushits. Both imperial and, later, Soviet authorities confiscated and rebuilt this classical-style building on several occasions until it was handed over to the Ashkenazi Jewish community in 2001. Ashkenazi Jews are migrants from Europe which profess Orthodox Judaism. The Chief RabbinateRussian: Glavnyi ravvinat or Главный раввинат, the Yeshiva Higher Religious SchoolRussian: vysshee duhovnoe uchilische Ieshiva or высшее духовное училище Иешива and a large library are all affiliated with the synagogue.
In this synagogue, services are held to the sounds of a magnificent chorus, hence the name “choral”. Ceiling and wall paintings, stylish religious utensils and furniture decorate the synagogue’s four prayer halls where Ashkenazi, Georgian and Mountain Jews gather to pray. The synagogue has its own Wailing WallRussian: Stena Placha or Стена Плача in memory of the destruction of the oldest temple in Jerusalem. The Beyt-TlahumRussian: Бейт-Тлахум synagogue opened its doors to Mountain Jews, also known as Azerbaijani Sephardis, as early as 1998 in the yard of the Moscow Choral Synagogue.
Poet Osip Mandelstam used to visit his brother who lived nearby, at 10, Starosadsky LaneRussian: Starosadskiy pereulok or Старосадский переулок. A monument to the poet was installed next to this building in 2006.
The Synagogue on Bolshaya Bronnaya Street located at 6, Bolshaya Bronnaya Street was erected prior to the Moscow Choral Synagogue. The country estate of the Jewish banker Lazar Polyakov was donated for this purpose in 1883, and three years later the well-known architect M. Chichagov rebuilt the synagogue in the Oriental style. In subsequent years, the synagogue was reconstructed several times, and now it has become a tall building decorated in a modern style where Jewish religious services and rituals are held on a regular basis. Celebrations, daily Torah classes and Sunday school classes also take place here, along with various awareness-raising activities. This synagogue is the heart of the Moscow Jewish community. In 2001, a monument to the Jewish writer Sholem Aleichem was unveiled in the immediate vicinity of the synagogue, at the intersection of the Bolshaya and Malaya Bronnaya StreetsRussian: Bolshaya i Malaya Bronnaya ulitsa or Большая и Малая Бронная улица.
The tall building of the Synagogue in Maryina RoshchaRussian: Sinagoga v Marinoy Rosche or Синагога в Марьиной Роще – the only synagogue founded under Soviet rule in 1926 – is located at 5a, 2oy Vysheslavtsev LaneRussian: 2-y Vysheslavtsev pereulok or 2-й Вышеславцев переулок. Initially, it was a small timbered house, which burned down in 1973. The chief architect of Tel Aviv I. Godovich reconstructed it as a modern 7-storey building to house the Jewish community centre. Today, it is one of the most active Jewish centres in Moscow. Alongside the synagogue, this building is also home to the Beyt Talmud Jewish Traditions Study CentreRussian: Tsentr izucheniya evreyskoy traditsii «Beyt Talmud» or Центр изучения еврейской традиции «Бейт Талмуд», the Rimon children’s Sunday club networkRussian: set' voskresnyh detskih klubov «Rimon» or сеть воскресных детских клубов «Римон», a library, an Internet café, an art gallery and fitness centres. The community’s active everyday life is filled with various events, hobby groups and clubs open to everyone, regardless of their religion.
Located at 19b, Signalny PassageRussian: Signalnyi proyezd or Сигнальный проезд, the Synagogue in OtradnoyeRussian: Отрадное is home to the Darkey ShalomRussian: Даркей Шалом (The Roads of the World) Community whose mission is to spread the ideas of peace and harmony all over the world. This tall red building was built in 1997. The Synagogue on Clear PondsRussian: Chistyie prudy or Чистые пруды at 10/2 Maly Kharitonyevsky LaneRussian: Malyi Haritonevskiy pereulok or Малый Харитоньевский переулок stands out among other synagogues because of its modesty and simplicity. This small outbuilding in the yard of the Griboyedov Registry OfficeRussian: Griboedovskiy ZAGS or Грибоедовский ЗАГС is jokingly called the “synagogue for the beginners”. It is attended by those who seek warmth and friendship, heart-to-heart chats and prayers and frequent meetings with those with similar beliefs close to home.
Cemeteries are sacred to many Jewish people. There is just one modern cemetery within the boundaries of the capital featuring one lot for Jewish burials, the Vostryakovskoye CemeteryRussian: Vostryakovskoe kladbische or Востряковское кладбище at 47, Ozyornaya StreetRussian: Ozyornaya ulitsa or Озёрная улица. Two more Jewish cemeteries, called MalakhovskoyeRussian: Малаховское and SaltykovskoyeRussian: Салтыковское, are located outside Moscow. The Khevra Kadisha Jewish Memorial ServiceRussian: Evreyskaya pohoronnaya sluzhba «Hevra kadisha» or Еврейская похоронная служба «Хевра кадиша» is situated at 11/2 Obraztsova Street. The same building houses the Shaarey Tsedek Charity CentreRussian: Blagotvoritel'nyi tsentr «Shaarey Tsedek» or Благотворительный центр «Шаарей Цедек» aimed at assisting socially disadvantaged Jewish people, those with disabilities, orphans and large families. A dining hall, clothing warehouses, a second hand store and medical equipment rentals are available at the centre. The Rambam Russian-Israeli Medical CentreRussian: Rossiysko-Izrailskiy meditsinskiy tsentr «Rambam» or Российско-Израильский медицинский центр «Рамбам» employing highly qualified medical staff is another Jewish institution located at 11/2 Obraztsova Street.
EDUCATION AND ENTERTAINMENT
The Mesivta Jewish Boarding SchoolRussian: Moskovskaya evreyskaya shkola «Mesivta» or Московская еврейская школа «Месивта» for boys in Grades 5 to 11 and the Mir Intellecta (The World of Intelligence) Jewish Secondary SchoolRussian: Evreyskaya shkola «Mir intellekta» or Еврейская школа «Мир интеллекта» for boys and girls with an advanced curriculum are situated near the Rambam Medical Centre at 19a Obraztsova Street.
There are many Jewish tertiary education institutions, including the Moscow Jewish University for the HumanitiesRussian: Moskovskiy evreyskiy gumanitarnyi institut or Московский еврейский гуманитарный институт for girls, located at 3/1 Oleny Val StreetRussian: ulitsa Oleniy Val or улица Олений Вал, and in the International Jewish Institute of Economics, Finances and LawRussian: Russian: Mezhdunarodnyi evreyskiy institut ekonomiki, finansov i prava or Международный еврейский институт экономики, финансов и права at 6, Otradnaya StreetRussian: улица Отрадная. The curriculum includes Judaism studies and Hebrew language courses.
The Shalom Moscow Jewish TheatreRussian: Moskovskiy evreyskiy teatr «Shalom» or Московский еврейский театр «Шалом» plays a major role in the Russian capital’s theatre life. Established in 1988, it occupies the premises of the former Luch CinemaRussian: kinoteatr "Luch" or кинотеатр "Луч" at 71/1 Varshavskoye HighwayRussian: Varshavskoe shosse or Варшавское шоссе. The theatre puts on performances of classical and modern plays and literary works by Jewish writers and playwrights which are of interest to people of all nationalities. Since 2016, the theatre has been part of the International Theatre Institute under the auspices of UNESCO. It is very popular with both local residents and visitors to Moscow and is often away on tour.
The MestechkoRussian: Местечко Restaurant, located at 27/4 Bolshaya Bronnaya Street not far from the Jewish centre, is one of the most popular Jewish restaurants of Moscow for both residents and visitors to the Russian capital. People often bestow the title of “religious hymn” upon it, and for good reason; the menu complies with every kosher dietary label. Carefully chosen products are cooked in strict compliance with kashrut. Dishes offered at the Mestechko Restaurant are made to old Ashkenazi recipes and include forshmaks with hash browns, roasted meat, beef belyashis, solyanka, the most delicious matbukha and babagaush sauces and many other mouth-watering dishes. Having lunch is rather expensive here and may well cost you 2,000-2,500 rubles, the restaurant’s kosher status adding to the bill. The dishes are delicious with Berel Lazar, the Chief Rabbi of Russia, often having lunch here. The 690-ruble “Jerusalem lunch” is definitely good value, however.
A kosher restaurant located at 6, Bolshaya Bronnaya Street on the roof of a synagogue, ‘JerusalemRussian: Иерусалим’ is, in a sense, a closed-door place and getting there is not particularly simple. Among the regulars are frequent visitors to the synagogue, actors from the nearby theatre and some local celebrities. The restaurant operates a strict access policy, but it is still possible to enjoy the view of Moscow roofs while savouring tasty Oriental meals at Jerusalem. Dishes cooked over wood smoke are particularly delicious. Be advised that regular restaurant customers will not appreciate revealing or overly-modern outfits – it is best to dress modestly. Prices here are good value and this is a place you’ll probably want to return to, time and again.
Another kosher restaurant, RimonRussian: Римон, is located on the second floor of the Choral Synagogue at 9, Bolshoy Spasoglenishchevsky Lane. It is considered one of the modest and inexpensive restaurants in the capital, and its menu features Jewish, old Russian and European recipes. Reduced-price lunches are offered here from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., and you can get a 20 per cent discount on lunch on Saturdays.
The restaurant’s cozy interior makes it a popular place for family celebrations, children’s and themed parties as well as master classes by a chef from Israel. Great meals and friendly waiters is why this is one of the favourite restaurants among the Jews and other visitors.
ShtetlRussian: Штетл, a meat and milk restaurant located at 5a, 2oy Vysheslavtsev Lane as part of the Jewish Community Centre in Maryina Roshcha has two halls and can satisfy the most exacting visitors at a reasonable price. Enjoy Jewish, Belorussian and Caucasian meals, try meat dishes for lunch and milk dishes for breakfast, chat with your friends over a glass of wine and treat your kids to milkshakes. Shtetl is popular with most Muscovites and visitors to the capital because of its prices and its accessibility to people from all walks of life.
Obrazh ZhizniRussian: Образ жизни (Lifestyle), a bar-restaurant offering French, Israeli and vegetarian food, is located at 40/2 Prechistenka StreetRussian: ulitsa Prechistenka or улица Пречистенка at the intersection of many tourist routes. In this cozy place, you can enjoy your lunch break, a meal with your kids or a dinner with your friends while listening to live music. Meals are delicious and relatively inexpensive, considering the generally high cost of this upscale Moscow district.
A place of importance to many Jewish people is situated not far from Obrazh Zhizni, on the same side of the street. At the end of the 19th century, the renowned Russian painter of Jewish origin, Isaac Levitan, rented an apartment in the old and restored mansion formerly owned by Prince Orlovthe favorite of Empress Catherine the Great of Russia at 10, Prechistenka Street. Between 1942 and 1948, this building housed the Jewish Anti-Fascist CommitteeRussian: Evreyskiy antifashistskiy komitet or Еврейский антифашистский комитет that took an active part in combating Hitler’s Germany and created a monetary fund to contribute to the victory in WWII. Now, the building is home to the Peace and Collaboration CommitteeRussian: Komitet za mir i sotrudnichestvo or Комитет за мир и сотрудничество and the International Association of Peace FundsRussian: Mezhdunarodnaya assotsiatsiya Fonda mira or Международная ассоциация Фонда мира.
All Jewish restaurants are located near popular religious and public places, which makes it easy to find them. Listing them all is utterly impossible. In addition to the above-mentioned restaurants, there is a multitude of Jewish cafés, snack bars, confectionaries, street food shops, both expensive and less so, big and small, strictly kosher and secular options. There are at least seven kosher markets in Moscow, situated near popular centres of Jewish culture. Many of them sell cooked meals. Food is an essential part of many Jewish people’s public and private lives, so it must be easily accessible and bring joy, too!