The following two albums are about the Large Choral Synagogue.
There haven't been any synagogues in our albums, as far as I remember.
Just in time too - some significant reconstruction work has been recently
completed, so this worked out well.
The synagogue is located at Lermontov
Prostect, 2, (not far from the Theater Square). An out-of-the way kind
of place one wouldn't accidentally notice.
The building was erected in 1893 on the
order of, or, rather, with a permission of Alexander II in 1869.
project's architects were I. Shaposhnikov and L. Bahman. V. Stasov and
Benua also participated.
The building is constructed in the
Prior to reconstruction, the whole of the synagogue
was painted in a color similar to that of the cupola; now there is
The sign at the top:
To the left of this photo there is a sign:
"Reconstruction of the Large Choral Synagogue is performed by Mr. and
Mrs. Safra from 2000 to 2003.
On 5 Tamuz 5761 - 26 June 2001 the large hall was reopened after
To my mind it is a bit immodest to name a synagogue after the sponsor.
Even if the sum was $5 million. :-)
The left side of the building is either
still to be painted or this is the original plan.
Same place, on the left, a bit further inside the yard, there is
another, less noticeable building.
This is the Small Synagogue. It was
built in 1886. The services were conducted here during the construction
of the Large Synagogue.
According to one of our readers: "the Small Synagogue in the yard
belongs to Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidim. The bosses of the Large Synagogue
have always treated them with certain coolness."
(The sign says "Prepare for the
Coming of the Moshiah".)
This is not as scary as it sounds :-)
"Moshiah" means "Messiah", who's coming the religious Jews still wait
for. Meanwhile the Christians believe the wait has been over for the
last 2004 years.
In other words, nothing too original.
The Saint Petersburg Synagogue is the
second largest in Europe. The largest one, in Budapest, is also built in
the Mauritian style.
One must admit that selecting the spot to build
on, even after Alexander II's order to do so, was rather difficult.
In particular, there could be no Orthodox Christian churches near by,
nor government roads (i.e. ones used by the Czar), etc.
Another little amusing fact was the requirement to close all other
prayer houses (after the opening of the Synagogue, of course).
Also, the architects' original proposal had to be greatly reduced
(the building's height is 45 meters instead of 65; there a third less
space inside; there is no second cupola) due to:
"...His Majesty noting that 'a more modest appearance befit the
building of the first synagogue in the capital, corresponding to the
civic standing of Jews in our homeland'"
And, of course, an important reason for
building on this spot was that this area (Pod'yacheskaya's',
Masterskay's' and others on that side of the Sennaya street) was a
historical location of Jewish settlement in Saint Petersburg.
the prayer houses mentioned above, they never were closed done under the
A plaque from older times.
The fence was built later, in 1909, by
architects I. N. Ropet and A. D. Schwartzman.
I am told that a synagogue, unlike a
Christian church, is not a Temple, but just a house, where the Jews come
for communal prayer, study of the Tora (the Bible) - and also just to
talk. That is why one is not enjoined there from walking about, speaking
loudly and even smoking (not during the Sabbath, of course). Nor from
eating and drinking during the holidays.
A view outside from the yard - nothing
much really. :)
In the next album we will look at the
interior of the Synagogue.