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Big Choral Synagogue-the center of Jewish religious life in St.Petersburg

Jewish religious community in St.Petersburg is one of the oldest communities in the city, it numbers nearly 100 thousand people.

Big Choral Synagogue is the center of St.Petersburg Jewish religious life. It is a place for worship and also a place where Jews can meet, celebrate holidays and communicate.

The construction of this magnific building was started in 1883. It was the second project made by I.Shaposhnikov and I.Bachman. The first project was declined by Russian tsar Alexander II, who ordered to do it anew in a more modest size. The architects had to diminish the size of the Synagogue; the number of sitting places is up to 1200; and to take away the second dome. Never the less the Synagogue in St.Petersburg is the largest in Russia and the second large in the world after the Synagogue in Budapest.

The building was constructed in  the east, Moorish style on the donations of the Jewish families. The bulk of funds was given by the family of Baron Ginzburg-the first chairman of the Jewish community and owner of gold mines in Siberia; by Varshavskiy-the owner of Russian rail-roads and by Polyakov-well known Russian maecenas. The construction lasted after 10 years - in 1893.

The lobby of the Big Choral Synagogue is famous for its unique acoustics: standing at one end of the hall facing the wall, you can hear words spoken in a whisper from the opposite side (the distance is over 10 meters). In the center of the lobby voice is magnified.

In the Synagogue the Torah scrolls are stored. Scroll is written manually on parchment by one man for several months without a single blot. Otherwise it is overwritten again.

Big Choral Synagogue  is an Orthodox. During the praying, men and women should be separated. Therefore, for women there is a special gallery on the second floor.
In the main hall of the Big Choral Synagogue prayers are held only on Saturdays and holidays. Baruch Finkelstein - the leader of male choir, is one of the best cantors in Russia.

Daily prayers are held in a small Synagogue. Making the praying is possible only in the presence of the minyan - the number of men should not be less than ten. Saturday's praying ends with a traditional meal, which is opened for all people, who came to pray.
In 1998 the restoration of Synagogue began. Realization of this important project began through the efforts of community leadership - the chief rabbi of St. Petersburg Menachem Mendel Pevzner; chairman of the St. Petersburg Jewish religious community Mark Davidovich Grubarga; deputy chairman and head of the restoration project Tamaz Akakievich Sepiashvili. The project was made possible by a generous donation from Mr. E. Safra; L. Leviev; V. Kogan; Z.D. Smushkin; G.Z. Scherbakovskaya; T.K. Bolloeva for supporting educational and charitable projects.

open: summer 09.00 - 18.00

rest of the year - 10.00 - 18.00

Saturdays and holidays - 10.00 - 12.00 (open only for prayers)

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