THE JEWISH COMMUNITY OF ST.-PETERSBURG
The Jewish Religious Community of St. Petersburg is part of the religious hassidic movement, Habad Lubavitch. The Community unites over 20,000 of St. Petersburg Jews. The community is headed by Mr. M. Pewzner, Chief Rabbi of S. Petersburg and Mr. M.D. Grubarg, the community chairman. The Jewish Community has its own cantor, Mr. G. Yakerson.
The Community life is primarily built around the Grand Choral Synagogue of St. Petersburg which is located at 2, Lermontovsky Prospect. This is one of the most beautiful synagogues and second biggest in Europe. There are also six other district synagogues in the city, as well as the Jewish Community Center, “Maor”. All of them are blooming with religious and cultural life.
Several years ago, the city authorities returned the building next to the Synagogue (42 Dekabristov St.). The premises used to belong to the Jewish Community before the Russian Revolution of 1917 yet happened to be confiscated back in Soviet times. Сurrently, the building is being renovated to accommodate a big Community center.
There are multiple religious activities going on in the St. Petersburg Jewish Community, such as prayers, shabats, Jewish holidays, Tora lessons, brit-mila, bar-mitzva, Jewish weddings and Jewish burials.
Jewish Education in St. Petersburg
The community accommodates two general education Jewish schools, orphanage facilities for children from socially vulnerable families, two daycares, a heder (religious school) for boys from religious families, 2 kolels for married men as part of the international program “Kolel Tora”.
There is also a number of informal Jewish education programs, such as Tora lessons, lectures by local and guest rabbis; an international program called Jewish Learning Institute; the program "Hevruta" for men; various educational programs for women, the program "Judaism step by step" which provides help and moral support for newcomers.
The Synagogue’s library called “Sifria” is known to possess a good collection of Jewish literature in Russian: books on Judaism, Jewish history and philosophy, educational and fiction literature.
Programs for kids, youth and elderly people
The Community features multiple educational and entertainment programs for all ages: kid club Haverim; clubs for teenagers; the local operation of the international youth program “STARS” and the leisure center for the elderly. Also, there are summer and winter camps available for children and teenagers.
The Synagogue lives an active cultural life. There is a whole range of various events, such as Jewish music concerts, plays, meetings with famous Jewish media people and book presentations. Also, there are special entertainment programs: handiwork, sports, cooking club and arts club.
Сharity and Volunteerism
In the Synagogue, there is a charity program called “Rahamim”, which provides help and care for Jews in need. Monthly, over 100 families or senile lonely people receive help and support. Dozens of “Rahamim” volunteers deliver presents to elderly people helping them right at their homes. Volunteers clean up the St. Petersburg Jewish Cemetery every spring. The community also has a charity dinner for the retired.
In 2014, the Community launched a new charity internet project www.pomogu.jeps.ru This online resource raises money for Jews in need, the Grand Choral Synagogue itself and general support of Judaism in St. Petersburg.
The Community runs the restaurant “Lechaim” and the “Golden Café”. The kosher store offers food, Jewish books, ritual objects, souvenirs and jewelry. The production of kosher food items in S.-Petersburg is accelerating these days, so the segment of foreign kosher stuff is to diminish. The online project www.kosherno.com provides kosher food items being brought right at people's doorsteps.
There is the Tourist Department working at the Jewish Community. They organize guided tours around the Grand Choral Synagogue and the concerts of Jewish music. They also help individual tourists with travel arrangements, hotel reservations and kosher catering.
Jewish Community: Public Relations, Educational Projects
The St. Petersburg Jewish Community is one of the traditional confessions represented in St. Petersburg. The Community keeps up a close co-operation with the city authorities and participates in major city projects, such as the Library Night or the Night of Museums.
Annually, around the International Tolerance Day, the Community organizes the Open Day, a good chance for thousands of those interested to learn more about the Jewish religion and culture by visiting the Grand Choral Synagogue. The Synagogue also features a large-scale educational project called “The Open Judaism Course” available for everyone, regardless of the origin and faith.
Information and Public Relations
The Grand Choral Synagogue is constantly in touch with wide Jewish audience of St. Petersburg. Information on various Community activities is being shared online in social networks, text messages and call centers. One of the most important projects is a colorful Jewish calendar annually issued by the Community. The Synagogue mails out over 20,000 copies going directly into Jewish homes around the S. Petersburg area.
The press service of the Community spreads information on community activities in various city media resources.
Online and Printed Editions
The Community has their official internet portal www.jeps.ru and the printed newspaper called “Forsmak”.