A long-running Jewish community center in St. Petersburg may be able to stay open after all.
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, which this summer announced it was ending its financial support for the Rubinstein JCC and would begin charging it $75,000 in annual rent, has agreed not to charge that rent.
The tentative agreement was reached last week between community center head Alik Frenkel and JDC Executive Vice President Steven Schwager, who flew to St. Petersburg for a face-to-face meeting.
The move appears to be a first step toward healing an acrimonious breach between the JDC, which last year opened a multimillion-dollar Jewish community center called Yesod, and the Rubinstein center, which is run by a group of long-time Russian Jewish activists.
The locals have complained that the JDC’s New York and Jerusalem leaders do not sufficiently consider local needs, but impose their own agendas, including building a huge new center that locals don’t want. JDC leaders say they are planning for the community’s future needs, which the older generation of local Jews does not understand.
“Yesterday I spoke with Asher Ostrin and he confirmed that they won’t be charging us commercial rent,” said Frenkel, refering to the JDC’s Jerusalem-based director for the former Soviet Union. “So, that’s a big thing for us.”
According to Frenkel, while the JDC dropped its demand for commercial rent, the decision to cut the center’s funding remains in place.