Like Never Before: Unique Jewish Studies Center Opens at Kazan University

Kazan Federal University and the local Jewish community join forces in a new partnership. First of its kind Center for Jewish Studies will open this year at KFU, one of the oldest, largest and most prestigious Russian universities. This is a great gift for the Jewish community of Kazan and for the entire Republic of Tatarstan, revealed the Chief Rabbi of Tatarstan Yitzhak Gorelik. 

“For us, for Kazan, this is a very special moment. It is well known that people in our city are not just tolerant but always treat other nationalities with deep respect and interest. We can see constant support for such ideas. There are many students and residents of Kazan who want to get acquainted with Jewry, so thank G-d the moment has come when the University officially opens such a center,” noted Rabbi Gorelik. 

The Chief Rabbi of Tatarstan says the main goal of the center is to develop Jewish education.

Rabbi Mordechai Kantor, the leader of the Jewish Youth Community at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics, explained the uniqueness of this initiative: “This is probably the first such project in the world, when a public university authorizes a local Jewish community to fully manage the center and to develop its curriculum. We hope there will be many such centers at different universities across the country, but this is the first one.”

The practicalities of opening the new Center for Jewish Studies at KFU were discussed on July 21 at a meeting between Ilshat Gafurov, the Rector of the University, Prorector Dmitry Pashin, who’s been one of the main driving forces behind the project, and the representatives of the Jewish community of Tatarstan, the press office of KFU reports.

The Center for Jewish Studies will be based in a beautiful century-old mansion at the very heart of Kazan. The design project is now under development. From October, the courses will begin in a test mode at one of the University lecture halls. According to the initiators, the current program includes ten subdisciplines on the most pressing Jewish topics such as Jewish lifestyle, history, and languages. These free of charge courses are aimed primarily at the 2,000 Jewish students of KFU, but the center will be open to all Kazan residents who are interested in Jewish culture. 

The renovation of the historical building on Levo-Bulachnaya street is planned to be completed by the end of 2022.

Ilshat Gafurov, Rector of KFU, spoke about the system of training specialists for the Muslim and Orthodox Christian communities, implemented at KFU as a part of the state program in the field of religious education. As for the new Center for Jewish Studies, its activities “will make it possible for the Jews to replenish the knowledge of their own culture and traditions, as well as introduce Jewish values to all comers, regardless of their age, religion and nationality”.

Photos provided by the Press Office of the KFU.

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