Judaism is not only a religion, it’s a way of life. With its large Jewish communities and well-known synagogues, Moscow is the capital city of Russian Judaism. It is in Moscow that Russia’s most renowned rabbis reside, including Berel Lazar (Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia, or FJCRRussian: FEOR - Federatsiya evreyskikh obschin Rossii or ФЕОР - Федерация еврейских общин России) and Adolf Shayevich (Congress of the Jewish Religious Organizations and Associations of Russia, or CJROARRussian: KEROOR - Kongress evreyskikh religioznykh organizatsiy i ob'edineniy Rossii or КЕРООР - Конгресс еврейских религиозных организаций и объединений России).
The history of Judaism in Russia dates back to the 17th century, when the first Jewish merchants came to the German QuarterRussian: Nemetskaya sloboda or Немецкая слобода in Moscow, where most of the foreigners lived. The city’s first synagogue was only built in 1870. Today, the Moscow Choral SynagogueRussian: Moskovskaya Khoralnaya sinagoga or Московская Хоральная синагога is located not far from the place where that synagogue used to stand.
Moscow’s Jewish communities mainly profess traditional Orthodox Judaism, as maintained by emigrants from Eastern Europe, or Ashkenazi. They are centred round the FJCR and CJROAR in Moscow. The Association of Modern Jewish Organizations in RussiaRussian: Ob'edinenie religioznykh organizatsiy sovremennogo iudaizma v Rossii (OROSIR) or Объединение религиозных организаций современного иудаизма в России (ОРОСИР) represents Reform Judaism. Other Jewish movements are not particularly widespread among Jewish people living in Moscow. Notably, contradictions among Jewish people of various backgrounds are rare and never lead to outright confrontation. In addition to Ashkenazi Jews, there are a few other Jewish communities in Moscow, including Mountain Jews, Georgian and Tajik Jews, and the Karaitesan ethnic group derived from Turkic-speaking adherents of Karaite Judaism in Central and Eastern Europe and the KrymchaksJewish ethno-religious communities of Crimea derived from Turkic-speaking adherents of Orthodox Judaism, who speak Russian as their first language.
The Jewish community is a special place for Jewish people in terms of both their religious and social life. As a rule, it takes up a whole neighbourhood or a street not far from a synagogue and is inhabited by all the community members and their families. The community has its own meeting place, markets, restaurants, leisure and entertainment. The Moscow Jewish Community Centre in Maryina RoshchaRussian: MEOTs – Moskovskiy evreyskiy obschinnyi tsentr v Marinoy rosche or МЕОЦ – Московский еврейский общинный центр в Марьиной роще, located at 5a, Second Vysheslavtsev LaneRussian: Vtoroy Vysheslavtsev pereulok or Второй Вышеславцев переулок, is a fine example of such a community. It is situated in the well-known ‘Moscow’s Jewish Triangle’, a neighbourhood spread out between Maryina RoshchaRussian: Марьина Роща, MendeleyevskayaRussian: Менделеевская and DostoyevskayaRussian: Достоевская Metro Stations.
Jewish communities are centred round the local synagogue, where collective prayers take place. Traditionally, synagogues are built to resemble the long-since destroyed Temple and are always oriented eastwards, towards Jerusalem. This prayer house serves as a place for holding religious services and sacrifices and for studying and commenting on the Torah. Public libraries and schools for children and adults are usually affiliated with synagogues. Currently, there are some ten synagogues in Moscow – these are open not only to community members, but also to any Jewish people as well as non-Jewish people. The latter are very welcome, provided they respect the synagogue’s code of conduct.
Moscow’s oldest synagogue is thought to be the Moscow Choral Synagogue (10, Bolshoy Spasoglinishchevsky LaneRussian: Bolshoy Spasoglinischevskiy pereulok or Большой Спасоглинищевский переулок), which is affiliated to the Moscow Jewish Religious CommunityRussian: Moskovskaya evreyskaya religioznaya obschina (MERO) or Московская еврейская религиозная община (МЕРО). Commissioned by L. Polyakov, head of the Jewish community, it was built in 1891 by S. Eybushits in the classical style. Following numerous reconstructions and difficulties throughout the 20th century, the building was handed over to the Ashkenazi community in 2001. The synagogue underwent extensive restoration and was inaugurated in 2006. The Choral Synagogue has its own Wailing WallRussian: Stena Placha or Стена Плача in memory of the destruction of the First Jewish Temple. There is a sculpture called the Bluebird of HappinessRussian: Ptitsa schastya or Птица счастья by I. Buranov in the courtyard.
In this synagogue, religious services are held to the accompaniment of a magnificent chorus, hence its name. The building features four prayer halls boasting splendid ceiling and wall paintings, and all religious utensils are of great beauty and elegance. Various halls are built specifically with Orthodox, Mountain and Georgian Jewish peoples in mind. A school for advanced religious studies, yeshiva, works in coordination with the prayer house. The Beyt Talkhum SynagogueRussian: sinagoga «Beyt-Tlakhum» or синагога «Бейт-Тлахум» was built for Sephardi Jews from Azerbaijan in 1998, long before the main building was returned to the Jewish community.
Of special importance among Moscow synagogues is the Memorial Synagogue in Victory Park on Poklonnaya HillRussian: Memorialnaya sinagoga v Parke Pobedy na Poklonnoy gore or Мемориальная синагога в Парке Победы на Поклонной горе. Funded by the Russian Jewish Congress and built by M. Zarkhi and V. Budayev in 1998, it is a fine example of modern religious architecture. Its main hall is decorated with highly symbolic sculptures by F. Meysler, a well-known artist from Israel. The synagogue’s lower hall is dedicated to the Holocaust and to the memory of the six million Jewish people who died during World War II. This museum consists of two rooms, where visitors are told the history of the Jewish people in Russia and what they suffered during the war. The Memorial Synagogue is located at 53, Kutuzovsky AvenueRussian: Kutuzovskiy prospekt or Кутузовский проспект.
The Synagogue on Bolshaya Bronnaya StreetRussian: Sinagoga na Bolshoy Bronnoy or Синагога на Большой Бронной is one of the oldest in Moscow. Built in 1883 on the premises of the mansion that belonged to the financier L. Polyakov, it was later reconstructed by I. M. Chichagov in the Oriental style. In the late 20th century, the synagogue was restored according to modern requirements. The building stands out due its dimensions and multipurpose nature, with its prayer rooms, halls designed for hosting religious and social events, a library, the Jewish Memorial MuseumRussian: Muzey Pamyati evreev or Музей Памяти евреев and even IerusalimRussian: Иерусалим, an excellent kosher restaurant. This synagogue has suffered several terrorist attacks: arson in 1993, muffled explosions in 1999 and 2003, and personal attacks on worshippers in 2006. Today, the entrances to the synagogue are carefully protected. Being a religious centre of Lubavichi hasids, the synagogue supports Makhon RanRussian: Махон Ран, a yeshiva training rabbis and shochets. The address is 6/3, Bolshaya BronnayaRussian: Большая Бронная Street.
Founded in 1926, the Beys Menakhem Synagogue in Maryina RoschaRussian: Sinagoga «Beys Menakhem» v Marinoy Rosche or Синагога «Бейс Менахем» в Марьиной Роще used to be Moscow’s main synagogue in Soviet times, hence the popularity of this neighbourhood among Jewish people in Moscow. The old wooden building that housed the synagogue burned down in 1993 and was replaced by a lavish (for its time), new 7-storey building by I. Godovich, Tel Aviv’s leading architect. It now houses numerous organizations, from an art gallery, the Beyt Talmud Centre for the Study of Jewish TraditionsRussian: tsentr izucheniya evreyskoy traditsii «Beyt Talmud» or центр изучения еврейской традиции «Бейт Талмуд» and Internet cafés to RimonRussian: Римон, a network of children’s Sunday clubs, a library, fitness centres and a concert hall. This lively and crowded building belongs to the Moscow Jewish Community Centre.
The Synagogue has a total area of 7,200 sq. m., and the big prayer house can host up to 2,000 visitors. The total number of worshippers regularly coming to this synagogue is some 100,000. The main rabbinate and yeshiva are actively engaged in the synagogue’s activities. The building features ShtetlRussian: Штетл, a restaurant with meat and milk halls offering delicious and inexpensive meals to visitors of any denomination who wish to come. The address is 5a, Second Vysheslavtsev LaneRussian: 2-y Vysheslavtsev pereulok or 2-й Вышеславцев переулок.
The Synagogue on the Clean PondsRussian:Sinagoga na Chistykh prudakh or Синагога на Чистых прудах, occupying a small outbuilding in the courtyard of the Griboyedovsky Civil Registry OfficeRussian: Griboedovskiy ZAGS or Грибоедовский ЗАГС, is hard to find as it is poorly signposted. Jokingly called the ‘synagogue for beginners’, it was established by a group of like-minded people taking their first steps in embracing their traditional religion. This modest, cozy synagogue holds only small number of people and is usually frequented by those who live in nearby neighbourhoods and streets. The address is 10/2, Maly Kharitonyevsky LaneRussian: Malyi Kharitonevskiy pereulok or Малый Харитоньевский переулок.
The Synagogue of the Darkey Sholom Community in OtradnoyeRussian: Sinagoga obschiny «Darkey Sholom» v Otradnom or Синагога общины «Даркей Шолом» в Отрадном is part of the one-of-a-kind Three Religions Spiritual ComplexRussian: Dukhovnyi kompleks Tryokh religiy or Духовный комплекс Трёх религий. Built in the immediate vicinity of an Orthodox Christian church and an Islamic mosque at 19B, Signalny DrivewayRussian: Signalnyi proezd or Сигнальный проезд on the outskirts of Moscow, it is informally referred to as New JerusalemRussian: Novyi Ierusalim or Новый Иерусалим and embodies the coexistence of three major religions in Russia. A Buddhist temple will also soon be constructed here, as well. The three-storey synagogue, built in 1997, is involved in not only religious, but also educational and social programs, including a youth and family club, a library and a video library.
Located at 3, Chapayevsky LaneRussian: Chapaevskiy pereulok or Чапаевский переулок, the Isaac’s Tent SynagogueRussian: Sinagoga «Shatyor Itskhaka» or Синагога «Шатёр Ицхака» occupies the Triumph PalaceRussian: Triumf-Palas or Триумф-Палас residential building, Europe’s tallest and most comfortable high-rise. The facility was purchased in 2008 by a group of Sephardic Jewish emigrants from Georgia to commemorate their ancestor, Isaac Yelashvili. The inauguration ceremony was attended by Chief Rabbis of Russia and of the Georgian Jewish people of Russia and Israel. As well as holding religious services, the synagogue’s community is engaged in educational and awareness-raising activities, takes part in charitable work and publishes its own newspaper.
A synagogue of the Chabad tradition of Judaism, affiliated with the Among Our Members Jewish AssociationRussian: Sinagoga evreyskoy obschiny «Sredi svoikh» or Синагога еврейской общины «Среди своих» was founded in Moscow in 2008. Community members declared their basic programme of activities to be focused on religious education for all age groups of learners at the educational centre headed by the Israeli counsellor Joseph Khersonsky. Entrepreneurs and senior managers give lectures and classes to students attending the centre. Leisure time is filled with festivities and club entertainment. The synagogue is located in a beautiful old mansion (built in 1890) in Moscow’s historic centre at 14, Lva TolstogoRussian: Льва Толстого Street.
Located at 16/2, Marshala TukhachevskogoRussian: Маршала Тухачевского Street in Moscow’s ShchukinoRussian: Щукино District, the David’s House SynagogueRussian: Sinagoga «Dom Davida» or Синагога «Дом Давида» is a prayer house for the small Chabad Jewish community. It occupies premises 120 square metres in size in an ordinary one-storey building. Community members warmly welcome guests from every strand of Judaism and dedicate their time at the synagogue to self-education and self-improvement.© 2016-2018 moscovery.com