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Services Conducted Once Again at Moscow Shul Seized in 1938

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For the first time in 53 years, services were conducted Monday at the Poliakov Synagogue in Moscow.

The building, confiscated in the prewar Stalin era, will soon be officially restored to Jewish ownership, according to Lishkas Ezras Achim, a Brooklyn-based organization connected to the Chabad Hasidic movement that ministers to the religious needs of Jews in the Soviet Union.

The occasion for the revival was the Shavuot holiday. The Orthodox service was attended by 1,200 worshippers, said Rabbi Moshe Levertov, spokesman for the organization.

He said he recalled vividly the day in 1938 when, as a boy in Moscow, he saw the authorities seize the synagogue. They distributed its Torah scrolls among shoemakers but allowed the Bibles and prayerbooks to be transferred to other synagogues, he said.

Levertov said that after Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev introduced his liberal glasnost policies, the Chabad community in Moscow applied for the synagogue’s return to its former owner.

The transfer was approved a week ago by the Moscow City Council and will be completed in three months when the shul becomes the property of Agudas Chabad.

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