The world’s largest Jewish centre — with more floor space than Windsor Castle — opened this week in the unlikely location of Dnepropetrovsk in south-east Ukraine.
The chief rabbis of Ukraine, Russia and 400 other guests were present as the Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel, Shlomo Amar, placed the mezuzah on the door of the 540,000 sq ft Menorah Centre.
Also present was the Chief Rabbi of Dnepropetrovsk, Shmuel Kaminetzky. “It was a very emotional day for me,” he said. “In 1941, on Simchat Torah, 11,000 Jews were massacred by the Nazis in Dnepropetrovsk. To be able to open just after Simchat Torah in the memory of those that died was very important.
“This is about remembering the past, but also taking care of our huge community for the future.” To that end, the development was designed to be self-sustaining, paying for itself indefinitely.
Each of the seven towers, intended to represent the branches of a menorah, are topped by a glass structure that can be lit up. The lighting of the towers rotates throughout each week to mimic the lighting of a menorah.
Inside the towers, which now dominate the city’s skyline, are ballrooms, banqueting halls, a concert hall, a gallery, restaurants, bookshops and spaces to host educational classes and the offices of Jewish charities. The project was financed by the President of the Dnepropetrovsk Jewish Community, Gennady Bogolubov and the president of the United Jewish Community of Ukraine, Igor Kolomoyskyi.
The centre was built around the neo-classical Golden Rose synagogue, and completes a campus that includes a pre-existing community centre and a mikveh, all catering to a Jewish population of around 22,000.