A new Torah scroll, the first ever to serve the recently established Jewish community in the south-western Siberian city of Novokuznetsk, was completed on Wednesday, June 8, at the Jewish Community Center of Moscow. The ceremony was attended by Russia’s Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar and Mr. Gavriel Tour, the sponsor of the historic scroll.
The Jewish community in Novokuznetsk, an industrial city with many natural resources, was formally set up two years ago with the arrival of Rabbi Menachem Rabinowitz (formerly from Nizhny Novgorod) as its Chief Rabbi.
Thousands of Jews live in the city and its suburbs, but the city’s Jewish community only started developing as Novokuznetsk grew into a sought-after location for business and industry.
The new Torah Scroll, donated by Mr. Gavriel Tour and his family in honor of their son Eliyahu Shabtai, will be a vital contribution to the emerging community, which holds prayer services on weekdays, Shabbat and holidays, along with an array of educational and humanitarian activities for all ages and interests.
Representatives from many different Jewish communities in Russia attended the ceremony at Maryina Roshcha synagogue. They participated in writing the last of the 304,805 handwritten letters and enjoyed dancing and a festive meal to celebrate the new Torah scroll.
In the upcoming days the scroll will be brought to Novokuznetsk, where the locals are working hard to build a permanent synagogue and JCC and to progress to the next level in their journey of becoming a fully established Jewish community.
Photos by Levi Nazarov.