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Sochi synagogue renovated ahead of Winter Olympics

(JTA) — The synagogue in Sochi in Russia has been renovated and a new Torah scroll acquired ahead of the city’s hosting of the Winter Olympics next year.

Rabbi Ari Edelkopf, director of the Jewish Community of Sochi, told JTA the renovation was completed this month and “will help our synagogue serve not only thousands of local Jews, but also Jews from around the world who come to Sochi for business and the thousands expected during the Winter Olympics.”

The previous Winter Olympics, held in 2010 in Vancouver, drew thousands of athletes from dozens of countries and tens of thousands of spectators.

The new Torah scroll was brought to Sochi’s synagogue, housed in the local Jewish community center, after a colorful procession earlier this month through the main streets of the resort city of 500,000 on the eastern shores of the Black Sea.

The Kaganovich family in St. Petersburg paid for the Torah. Berel Lazar, a chief rabbi of Russia, and rabbis from the Jewish community of St. Petersburg led a ceremony marking its arrival.

Edelkopf, who grew up in the United States and lived in Israel before settling in Sochi 11 years ago, said Sochi has no Jewish schools, but it does have a functioning mikvah.

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