First Shul and Jewish Community Center for Arkhangelsk Russia
A beautiful new shul and community center was dedicated in an impressive and emotional ceremony in the city of Arkhangelsk. In attendance were Chief Rabbi of Russia Berel Lazar, Rabbis and Shluchim from neighboring cities, District Governor, Mayor, Government representatives and hundreds of Jews, as well as the local media.
The city of Arkhangelsk is located in northwestern Russia, and according to government archives, housed a shul close to one hundred years ago. Unfortunately, the Jewish voice has since nearly ceased to exist there.
Then the “Federation of Jewish Communities in Russia” was founded and began sending Moscow’s Yeshiva students to run Pesach seders, holiday services, and bring religious articles to the many cities that still do not have official rabbis permanently.
Upon the arrival of Russia’s Chief Rabbi on a flight from Moscow, he was given a royal reception in the government administration offices. The District Governor recounted the various stages of assistance to the city’s Jews, and the aid that was given to build the new Jewish Center.
From there they continued on to the new building in the center of Arkhangelsk, where they were received by the building’s sponsor, Mr. Tuvia Obermaister.
Mr. Obermaister showed them the different wings of the new Center which include a shul, a (yet) unfinished mikva, classrooms, library, Sunday School, restaurant, banquet hall, and hospitality rooms for Shabbos and holidays.
Before affixing the main mezuzah, the Chief Rabbi spoke from his heart and quoted the words of the Prophet Yirmiyahu: “Mitzafon tetze hara” (and the evil shall leave from the north). Although Arkhangelsk is located in the northern part of the world, and it’s been through many difficult times before meriting these blessed moments when it can celebrate the dedication of its own magnificent center, but the Lubavitcher Rebbe explains the prophet’s words in the following manner:
“Tzafon” (north) comes from the word “tzafun” which means hidden. When we delve deeper in any matter, we discover that which was previously hidden. We discover that there is no evil in what Hashem does, we discover the hidden treasures within each and every Jew.
The Rabbi thanked the dear sponsor and all those who assisted in establishing the large, new Center. He urged all the city’s Jews to come there for prayers and Torah classes.
After the official ceremony, gifts were presented to the donor and his family. The public was invited to a Chassidic concert, followed by a Chassidic farbrengen with the guest Rabbis, including St. Petersburg’s Rabbi, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Pewsner, which lasted into the wee hours of the night in a state of joy and jubilation.