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The Central Synagogue of Odessa

The Central Synagogue of Odessa (at Richelieuvskaya and Yevreyskaya crossroads) was constructed by an architect F. Morandi in 1850. It is a two-storey building with the large semi-circular windows; its faзade and interiors are styled as a Florentine and Romanesque mix.

In Soviet years the building of the synagogue was possessed by the Odessa pedagogical institute faculty of physical training. The interiors of the synagogue have been drastically changed. The prayer hall was transformed into a gym, and its height was halved by an intermediate floor. The arched lateral openings were blocked; the balconies for women and the choir were sectioned into classrooms.

In 1996, the Central synagogue building was returned to the Odessa Jewish Religious Community, and Rosh-ha-Shana 1996 was the first time since long that Odessa Jews have gathered to pray in the Central Synagogue of Odessa.

During the following years the building has underwent profound reconstruction; a mikvah was introduced, and bimah was reinstalled. Quotidian prayers are held here at present, as well as festive ones that amass up to several hundreds of the believers. For the great celebrations not only the Odessites come, but the faithful Jews from Belgorod-Dniestrovskiy, Il’yichevsk, and Izmail towns as well.

The building of the Central synagogue houses the office of the Chief Rabbi of Odessa and Odessa Region Rabbi Shlomo Baksht; the secretarial staff of both the “Ohr Sameakh” weekly newspaper and “Ohr Sameakh” TV project; the office of the Odessa Jewish Religious Community Board with its head – Yakov Kroitoru.

The library with its books and videos on Jewish culture, history, and tradition hosts regular seminars on introduction to Judaism; lessons of Hebrew and Jewish tradition.

Since 1998, the Central synagogue has been running a yeshiva where the students are instructed by Israeli lecturers.

With renewal of the religious services, the Central synagogue has become one of the visiting musts for tourists, especially from the USA, Israel, Great Britain, and Poland who do not consider it a sole architectural monument but a focus of the Jewish self-awareness revival in Odessa.

25 Evreiskaya St.,
65045 Odessa
Tel./fax (0482) 34-78-50; (048) 777-11-89

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