A new Jewish community center opened in Moscow yesterday, targeting students of the prestigious International Relations Institute situated next door. This is the first “on-campus” Jewish center in the Former Soviet Union (FSU), where most JCCs are family-oriented and located in residential areas.
The new center hosts a synagogue, a library and study hall and a kosher cafe. The festive opening was attended by chief Rabbi of Russia Berel Lazar, city administration representatives, students and friends of the community.
“Jewish students of the institute have long been taking an active part in the life of the Jewish community. The need to have a Jewish center close to campus has been discussed for a long time and finally we can say that a major part of our plans has come true,” said rabbi Shimon Krasnodomsky, the head of the new center. “The main thing is that now Jewish students of one of the leading educational institutions in the country will be able to combine their studies with an opportunity to learn more about the traditions and history of their people,” he said.
The opening comes on the hills of an independent study, published in the US last week, that revealed that having a Jewish center on campus has significant and long-term effect on Jewish engagement among the students. “Students’ involvement in Jewish centers on campus has a very strong impact on their Jewish lives after college,” stated the report, commissioned by the Hertog Foundation and conducted by noted social scientists.
FJC representatives hope that yesterday’s opening will pave the way for creation of more ‘on-campus’ Jewish student centers throughout the region. The opening of the new center was made possible by the FJC of Russia and the country’s chief rabbinate.