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Reform Jews to open community center in Kiev

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(JTA) — The Reform movement’s international umbrella announced plans to open a large community center in Kiev later this year.

The World Union for Progressive Judaism, the umbrella for the Reform, Liberal, Progressive and Reconstructionist movements, last week bought a five-story building in the Ukrainian capital in December.

The building’s 4,400 square feet will accomodate a spacious prayer hall, the World Union’s national offices, classrooms, an activity center, a library and meetings halls, an announcement said. The building was built in 2008 and purchased for an unspecified sum that was donated by the Beutel, Klau and Posner-Molloy families, according to the announcement. The Beutels are Canadian; the Klau and Posner-Mollow families are American.

Alexander Gaidar, CEO of the Reform movement in Ukraine, would not disclose the figure, which he termed “commercial information.” The opening is expected in May, after the building is renovated, he said.

The purchase ended an 18-month search and was concluded just before Jan. 1, when new laws that complicate the sale of land in Ukraine came into effect, the umbrella group said. 

Over the past six year, the World Union has purchased buildings in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Minsk and now in Kiev as part of a “long-term strategic plan to build Jewish Progressive centers in the key cities of the region,” the announcement said.

According to Gaidar, some 12,000 people take part in the programs operated by 40 Progressive congregations in Ukraine. Kiev’s Progressive congregation, Atikva, has about 800 members, he said.

According to the European Jewish Congress, Ukraine has a Jewish population of 360,000 to 400,000.

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