The Synagogue in Bobruysk
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Since the XIX century, Bobruysk has been considered a powerful cultural and political center of the Belarusian Jews. The first synagogue appeared in the XVIII-XIX centuries. The Jewish community was expelled from the building in 1937 when the Bolsheviks seized the building of the Jews and organized a warehouse. This small building still stands in Bobruysk in Socialist Street, and a synagogue has been functioning here for the recent decades. But the Bobruisk Jewish has passed a long and hard way to the path to the peaceful existence.
In 1939, more than 30% of the population of Bobruisk are Jews
The war came to that town very quickly, and only a very few had time to escape from the cruelty of the German occupiers. Among 40 thousand civilians about 25 thousand of people killed during the war were Jews; it is almost 80% of the Jewish population of Bobruysk.
After the liberation of Belarus, the Jews that had managed to leave before the capture of Bobruysk began to return to the town. They had to revive the Jewish community in Bobruysk. The synagogue, located in Liebknecht Street, was burned during the war.
The struggle of the Jewish believers for their synagogue
In 1945, believers were going to register officially the Jewish community in the town but received a refusal from the authorities. The reason is the lack of a synagogue. Then the representatives of the diaspora asked to return them the building of the burned synagogue on condition that they would get it in order with their own efforts. In 1946, the authorities at last agreed and gave them 7 months to restore the Jewish temple. Within a month, all repairs were finished by using the out-of-pocket funds of the Bobruysk Jews numbering 100 000 Soviet rubles.
The town authorities set a high value on the efforts of the believers at first, and then reversed the decision on the registration of the community and opening of the synagogue, because they saw not a deep faith in their actions but nationalist and anti-Soviet purpose. The building was sealed up and transformed into the Belarusian party school, later – workshops of the Society of Invalids of the Second World War.
The synagogue in Bobruysk was opened and closed a few times in 1948
At last, the community was officially recognized and the synagogue was opened, but the distrust of too active Bobruysk Jews has remained in the BSSR. The believers continued to be fought as nationalists. In the same year, the synagogue was closed again, then opened and again sealed. The Jews, too tired to fight with the regime for the building, began to gather secretly in groups and pray at their homes; that angered more the government. At the time, the number of willing to occupy the vacant spacious building was increasing, but it was given to the state archives of the region in 1949. The struggle of the local authorities and the Jews continued for many years until the 60s. And the synagogue was returned to the Jewish diaspora only in the early 90s.
The second life of the Bobruysk synagogue
In 2002, Rabbi Raoul Habbo came to the town from Israel. The revival of the synagogue is associated with his name. Although the restoration is still going on, the building has long ago began actively accept believers. Today only a prayer hall with an area of 150 sq. m. fully functions.
The uniqueness of the synagogue in Bobruysk consists in the Jewish Holy book – the Torah that is kept here. Not so long ago, a beautiful reliquary was brought for it from Ukraine. The study of Torah, traditions and laws of the Jews is held 4 times a week in the synagogue.
Soon there will be a charitable canteen and a room for children. The Museum of the Traditions of the Jewish People is going to be open.