Grand Choral Synagogue

Grand Choral Synagogue.

St. Petersburg. Russia.

  1. It is the second largest synagogue in Europe (after the one in Budapest)
  2. The Synagogue is  an architectural monument of federal significance
  3. It is the spiritual center of the Jews of St. Petersburg
  4. The lobby has a unique acoustics

            They say that today St. Petersburg is home for about one hundred thousand Jews. This is one of the most close-knit communities in the city, for whom the Great Choral Synagogue isn't not just a religious place, but also the area where you can meet, socialize and celebrate the holidays.

            The Grand Choral Synagogue was decided to build when Emperor Alexander II allowed the Jews to settle in the territory of Russia, including the capital. The place was found on the outskirts,in the part of the city that was considered to be  unprestigious at the time. The building is located on Lermontovsky Prospect, near the Theatre Square. And, nevertheless, the community was able to build the second largest synagogue in Europe. The main sponsors were Baron Ginzburg (the first chairman of the Jewish community in the city) and Polyakov, a famous philanthropist.

            The project was executed by four architects on voluntary basis for what they were dedicated memorable places. Emperor Alexander II gave permission for the construction , so the wedding hall of the synagogue was called Alexander's Hall. Before the opening of the Great Choral Synagogue, the Minor Synagogue was consecrated in 1886, its building is located nearby. The consecration ceremony of the Great Synagogue was held  on December 8, 1893.

            The building is constructed in the Moorish style, the facade was  painted in a beautiful terracotta colour, popular in the east.

            The  lobby is famous for its acoustics . Standing at one end of the ten meters room, you can hear the words spoken in a whisper at the opposite end, and  the voice is amplified.

             The silver chandelier deserves our particular attention. Initially it was fed by gas, then it was remade into electrical. The second floor is designed for women, as in prayer, men and women should not interfere with each other while communicating with God (a good example of the fact that there is a lot in common between Jews and Muslims). There was a male choir above, on the balcony.

            Prayers were performed only on Saturdays and major holidays, for daily prayers the Minor Synagogue  was meant. Saturday is a special day for religious Jews. This day a prayer ended with a meal, which was attended by everyone who have come here.

            In 1930, the synagogue was closed, and the Jewish community was liquidated.  The Grand Choral Synagogue was reopened only in 1998, the building was restored and services were restarted.

            Today the Grand Choral Synagogue  is an architectural monument of federal significance.

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