Kharkiv Choral Synagogue

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Kharkiv Choral Synagogue
Kharkov Synagogue1.jpg
Kharkiv Choral Synagogue viewed from Pushkinska Street
Basic information
Location 12 Pushkinska Street, Kharkiv, Ukraine
Geographic coordinates 49°59′32.78″N 36°14′5.51″E / 49.9924389°N 36.2348639°E / 49.9924389; 36.2348639
Affiliation Chabad
District Kharkiv Oblast
Status Active
Leadership Moshe Moskovitz
Architectural description
Architect(s) Yakov Gevirts
Architectural type Synagogue
Architectural style Romano-Gothic, others
Groundbreaking 1909 (1909)
Completed 1913
Construction cost 150,000 rubles
Length 50 m (160 ft)
Height (max) 138 ft (42 m)

The Kharkiv Choral Synagogue (Ukrainian: Харківська хоральна синагога) is a synagogue located in Kharkiv, Ukraine, the largest in the country, and a building of architectural significance.


Construction of the synagogue began in 1909, with architects submitting design proposals as part of contest. St. Petersburg architect Yakov Gevirts submitted the winning design and construction was completed in 1913 at a cost of 150,000 rubles.[1] In 1923, the synagogue was closed, nationalized by the government, and used by a Jewish worker's club, part of the Comintern.[2] It then served a variety of uses including housing a club, cinema and a sport complex and was not used as a place of worship until 1990.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, various Jewish groups struggled for control of the synagogue. Edward Khodos created a phony organization to represent the members of reform Judiaism and asserted control of the synagogue. Representatives of Chabad made competing claims, and for a period both groups operated in the building. In 1993, Khodos operated on the synagogue’s second floor, where according to reports he conducted his antiques business and set up a Friday night kick-boxing club for local children.[3][4]

In 1998, a fire gutted the synagogue and it was officially turned over to Chabad. Extensive renovations were completed in 2003.[5]


The building design is described as a combination of Romano-Gothic, Neo-Gothic, and Islamic architecture styles which the Architectural Society of Kharkiv saw as `reminiscent of the huge walls of ancient Palestine`.[6]

The building is 138 feet (42 m) tall at the dome and 50 metres (160 ft) long, with a total area of 2,067 square metres (22,250 sq ft). Unlike the other buildings on the block, it is set back from the street to conform with local laws requiring a certain distance from churches and other houses of worship.[7]

The Synagogue Today[edit]

The synagogue is a center for Jewish life in Kharkiv and an important city landmark. Jewish holidays are celebrated at the synagogue by Jews and non-Jews alike. A Hanukkah celebration drew Petro Yushchenko, then governor Arsen Avakov, and national media coverage.[8] Other events include a tribute for Kharkiv Jewish war veterans.[9]

The synagogue is run by Chabad, which has its Kharkiv headquarters in the synagogue and also maintains a mikveh and yeshiva.[10] The synagogue's current Rabbi, Moshe Moskovitz, is also the chief rabbi of Kharkov.[11] Chabad also runs a school of 500 Jewish children in grades 1-11 and a kindergarten of 70 children.[12]

Kharkiv Mayor Hennadiy Kernes has attended a synagogue Purim celebration [13] and a wedding of Moskowitz's daughter.[14]


  1. ^ "The History Of The Kharkiv Choral Synagogue". Kharkov Synagogue. Retrieved 2012-11-10. 
  2. ^ "Synagogue". Ukraine Vision. Retrieved 2012-11-10. 
  3. ^ Sue Fishkoff. "Scrum over possession of Kharkov shuls". Retrieved 2012-11-10. 
  4. ^ Betsy Gidwitz. "JEWISH LIFE IN UKRAINE AT THE DAWN OF THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY: PART ONE". No. 451 8 Nisan 5761 / 1 April 2001. Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Retrieved 2012-11-10. 
  5. ^ "Great Choral Synagogue". Retrieved 2012-11-10. 
  6. ^ "The History Of The Kharkiv Choral Synagogue". Kharkov Synagogue. Retrieved 2012-11-10. 
  7. ^ Michal Lando. "The Kharkov camp question". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2012-11-10. 
  8. ^ "Kharkov for Chanukah - the place where everyone wants to be". Kharkov Synagogue. Retrieved 2012-11-10. 
  9. ^ "Kharkov Synagogue Hosts Gala Event For WWII Veterans". Kharkov Synagogue. Retrieved 2012-11-10. 
  10. ^ "Chabad of Kharkov". Retrieved 2012-11-10. 
  11. ^ "Thousands of Jews Rely on Chabad at Kharkov Games". Retrieved 2012-11-10. 
  12. ^ "Greeting Moshiach With Song". Retrieved 2012-11-10. 
  13. ^ "Purim in the Kharkov Circus!". Retrieved 2012-11-10. 
  14. ^ "Korf-Moskovitz Wedding". Retrieved 2012-11-10.