Hundreds are expected to attend the opening in Novosibirsk of what is said to be the largest Jewish community center in Siberia, Russia.
The Beit Machem Center, which is due to open Wednesday, will feature a synagogue, classrooms, a kosher restaurant, Jewish shops, computer corner and entertainment area as well as a gym, according to Rabbi Zalman Zaklas, the city’s chief rabbi and emissary for the Chabad-Lubavitch movement.
The new structure has 37,000 square feet of floor space and cost about $5 million to build, Zaklas told JTA on Tuesday. The money was raised in donations on three continents, he said, and the city of Novosibirsk donated the land for the center.
Approximately 20,000 of the 3.5 million residents of greater Novosibirsk are Jewish, according to Zaklas, an Israeli rabbi who has been living in Novosibirsk for the past 13 years.
“Many of them are descended from Jews who were exiled here in communist times, when Judaism was strongly repressed, and in recent years they have been retracing and reconnecting to their Jewish roots,” he told JTA.
The dedication ceremony will include an open-air concert by Israeli musicians and the Novosibirsk Academic Symphony Orchestra, and will be attended by Berl Lazar, a chief rabbi of Russia and senior-most Chabad emissary in the country.
“The timing of the opening means that the community will be able to celebrate the High Holidays already in the new center, which will help bring children closer to the Jewish faith and people,” Zaklas added. [nggallery id=232]