Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Jewish St. Petersburg Russia

Since it’s the second day of Rosh Hashonah, and I just returned from St Petersburg Russia, I thought I would post some pictures of Jewish St. Petersburg. While I don't know how many Jewish people there are in St. Petersburg today, I was told there are approximately a million spread across Russia. With a population of just over 5 million, I suspect there are a fair number, although not necessarily practicing.
 At one time there were 10 synagogues in the city, but today I was told there are just a few. You can find more information about the Jewish community here. http://en.jeps.ru/

I had occasion to visit two sites. The first was the Grand Choral Synagogue, the second largest synagogue in Europe. (The largest is in Budapest and is illustrated elsewhere on my blog.) It was built between 1880 and 1888, and was once called a "lavish, outlandish seductress."
Nearby within the secured grounds is a kosher store which sells some very garish (and very expensive) yarmulkas, a very nice kosher restaurant, and a reproduction of the wailing wall in Jerusalem.

Thanks to Michael Audain, I also discovered the "History and culture of the Jewish people on the territory of Russia” – an exhibition in The Russian Museum of Ethnography. The idea of this exhibition was announced by the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin during a meeting with the Prime Minister of Israel Ariel Sharon in 2003. The exhibition is considered to be the first step towards opening a separate museum of Jewish culture. 
It was interesting to see a map of the Jewish communities across Russia and various artifacts dating back to the 15th C as well as costumes worn by Jews in the various parts of the Soviet Union over the centuries. I looked for my relatives, but couldn't find them. I would have liked to have bought one of these Russia yarmulkas but they were not for sale!

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