ARKHANGELSK, October 12. /TASS/. Russia’s northernmost synagogue - North Star - opened in Arkhangelsk on Thursday in a three-story building, which hosts a Jewish cultural center with a concert hall and classrooms, a TASS correspondent reported from the site.
"North Star is, first of all, a cultural center, which welcomes not only Jews - they are few in Arkhangelsk - some 600 people only," Chairman of the local Jewish community Anatoly Obermeister told TASS. "As for the synagogue, it is a place for praying, for reading the Torah, which will host about 40-50 people."
At the opening ceremony, Russia’s Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar affixed a Mezuza scroll (a scroll with Torah’s two verses in Hebrew).
"I am sure this place will host many events to have people, including the Jews, see traditions, culture, values of our people. <…>," Lazar told reporters. "This would favor mutual understanding <…> and will help the Jews to learn more about the Torah, about our people’s religion and history. <…> I believe it is the northernmost [synagogue] in the world, at least in Russia."
The synagogue’s construction began in 2010 at the expense of the Jewish community.
"Historically, our region has many confessions," the Arkhangelsk Region’s Governor Igor Orlov told reporters. "In February, we opened the northernmost mosque, and today the North Star synagogue began shining in our sky, the synagogue is open, and the Jews have received their spiritual house."
Before the October Revolution, a wooden synagogue used to be in Arkhangelsk downtown, and a prayer house was on the Solombala Island.