Jewish community of Nizhny Novgorod
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Jews have lived on the territory of Nizhny Novgorod since the 19th century. The laws of the Russian Empire prohibited Jews from living in the center of Russia, allowing them land only in the Pale of Settlement. Only merchants of the top guild[clarification needed] and retired soldiers of the imperial army could live there. Nevertheless, the high trade and industrial development of Nizhny Novgorod attracted people, and Jews started arrive at Nizhny Novgorod from western regions of the empire. The majority of migrants were dealers and merchants. They arrived at Nizhny Novgorod to different trade fairs on the territory of the famous local fair. But there was no permanent Jewish community in the city until 1840, prompted by the decree of the tsar that started to recruit Jews for military service.[clarification needed]
The Nizhny Novgorod synagogue
The community of Nizhny Novgorod was said to have been founded by the tsar's soldiers, because soldiers were required to live in the city where they served. They subsequently became merchants and traders.[clarification needed] The synagogue was built in the period from 1881 to 1883.
In 1850, the Nizhny Novgorod community numbered 300 people, and there were 3000 people in 1913. The synagogue was led by a rabbi and a chief rabbi. There they formed a yeshiva and held charitable and funeral services.
Despite the increase of Jewish refugees in Nizhny Novgorod, government policy was aimed at reducing the Jewish population in the Nizhny Novgorod region.
The policy of the Soviet regime towards Jews was dual. On the one hand, community institutions were abolished, atheism was propagated, traditional economic relations were undermined, national-political movements became forbidden and their leaders were repressed. On the other hand, the Soviets were the only power, which accused anti-Semitism and fought against pogroms.
By 1938 all the synagogue, club and national society was abolished.
Since the 1970s, as a result of the Jews' repatriation to Israel, the strength of the community markedly decreased. However, it is possible to observe Jewish tradition. In the homes of townspeople minyany began to gather for prayers.[clarification needed]
The revival of the Jewish community began in 1989, when several influential Jewish cities organized the Jewish Culture Club. Later, Lipa Gruzman registered religious communities officially and began taking action to return the synagogue buildings. September 1991 brought the opening of the Sunday Jewish School, and on April 17 the synagogue held an official opening ceremony after its renovation.
In 1989 Edward M. Chaprak was appointed as head of the community.
In 1999 Shimon Bergman came to Nizhny Novgorod to serve as the Chief Rabbi of the city. Under his leadership, the daily minyan was updated in the synagogue, and various Jewish institutions were opened in the city: the school Or Avner-Habad; the kindergarten, Gan Menachem; a youth club; and a summer camp with a boarding yeshiva, Torah lessons, and various activities for holidays. Two years later, the mikvah for women was built.
- "Nizhny Novgorod Jewish Community". Retrieved 11 December 2009.
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