Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Jews Herald Hanukkah, Support for Community

As Hanukkah, or the Festival of Lights, began Friday evening, many of Moscow's Jews found much to celebrate.

"We are finally succeeding in building a community in Moscow," said Berel Lazar, a rabbi at the synagogue at Maryina Roshcha, one of three in Moscow. "The candle gives life and light. Living alone is living in darkness. When you are a part of a community, you are never alone."

Lazar and his synagogue have faced hard times. In August a bomb blast damaged the new building, which replaced one that had been burned down in 1993.

Yevgenia Myslinskaya said she planned to celebrate Hanukkah "in the proper fashion."

She was proud of the Marina Roshcha synagogue: "We have a school, a youth club and a business club," she said. "People of all ages can get involved. Everyone is welcome to learn about their religious roots. More and more people are interested," she said.

Many Jews who emigrated in the 1980s are now returning to Russia. "I grew up as a Soviet child," said Irina Pikman, a "repatriate" who returned to Russia to work for a Western company, "I knew nothing about being a Jew. It's great that Jewish kids in Russia today can learn about their religious tradition."

When Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin broke ground for the foundation of a new synagogue on Poklonnaya Gora in October, his act was hailed by Jewish leaders as a break with a long tradition of official support for anti-Semitism.

On Thursday, at the public lighting of the Menorah on Pushkin Square attended by thousands of people, a city official followed his lead. First Deputy Mayor Vladimir Resin, the first city official to take part in a Jewish holiday, spoke about the victory of light over darkness, of acceptance over hatred.