Grand Choral Synagogue Celebrates 120 Years in St Petersburg – ”In the heart of every Jew – 120 years and forever!”
Did you know that St. Petersburg has the third largest synagogue in Europe? This year the Grand Choral Synagogue celebrates its’ 120th anniversary. And this is not just another jubilee: ”Live to 120 years!” say Jews when they want to wish you a long and happy life. For the synagogue this birthday is particularly important – it signifies its’ majority.
The celebration was held on the 8th of December 2013. It started with a traditional 12 o’clock cannon shot from Naryshkin Bastion in Peter and Paul Fortress fired by the chief rabbi M. M. Pevsner and the Chairman of the St Petersburg Jewish community M. D. Grubarg. It was followed by a concert of traditional Jewish music, circus performances, and dances in the Synagogue courtyard. In the evening prominent representatives of the Jewish community from all over the globe gathered to participate in the main part of the celebration – the introduction of a specially written Sefer Torah – a scroll created by 1,000 Jewish citizens of St. Petersburg. And of course the celebration couldn’t be without presents. For example, the Russian Post printed a special envelope with a view of the Synagogue. Another present was made by the famous confectionery plant ”Neva” – special kosher sweets, such as fruit jelly and marshmallows, were produced there.
The synagogue opened in 1893 and is nowadays a huge religious and cultural center. With two kindergartens and two schools it plays a critical part in Jewish education. It has one of the largest libraries in the city numbering more than 5,000 books in Russian, Hebrew, and English. It is also a great charity center that helps more than 1,000 senior citizens in St Petersburg. Every day over 300 people can have a free meal inside two dining rooms belonging to the temple. The younger generation can contact a sort of Jewish marriage agency to find their future husbands or wives. So if you still hesitate whether it is worth visiting the Grand Choral Synagogue or not here is another special reason for you – it is believed that a word whispered in the Synagogues lobby can be heard at a distance of 10 meters. So, come and feel the unique atmosphere of the Grand Choral Synagogue!