Siberian city to return wooden synagogue to Jewish community

(JTA) — The Siberian city of Tomsk will return an old, wooden synagogue built by Jewish soldiers to the Jewish community.

The synagogue and surrounding complex will be handed over to the Jewish Community of Tomsk after the municipality finds alternative housing for some 15 families who are currently living there, Mayor Nikolay Nikolaychuk said, according to Chabad.org.

The rabbi of Tomsk, Levi Kaminetsky, told JTA that the city will invest about $1 million in finding the families apartments. 

The wooden synagogue, he said, was built 107 years ago by Jewish Cantonists, young children torn away from their homes to serve in the Czar’s army. It is in need of major renovation and may end up serving as Tomsk’s second synagogue, or a school for the children of the community of a few hundred Jews.

Also last week, a new Torah scroll was introduced into the city’s functioning synagogue, Or Avner, and the cornerstone was laid for the construction of a new Jewish community center.

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