Russia’s Chief Rabbi, Berel Lazar, described the interfaith situation in that country as “favorable,” stressing that Jews in Russia feel “comfortable and confident,” TASS reported Thursday. Rabbi Lazar was speaking at the inauguration ceremony of a synagogue in the city of Kaliningrad (formerly Koenigsberg), in the province by the same name, sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania along the Baltic Coast.
“No one builds a synagogue if one is ready to leave the country,” the chief rabbi said. “That means that we feel confident here, the government ensures stability here. When people feel comfortable, they know that they can attend synagogue, that they enjoy respect and have good relations with their neighbors. The interethnic atmosphere is very good today, and the interfaith relations are unique.”
Hopefully, the good rabbi meant the good kind of “unique.”
According to Rabbi Lazar, the situation in Europe is less favorable. “We can see that in today’s European Jewish communities feel insecure. They do not know what the future has in store for them. Many say they need to leave Europe.”
“No one plans to build new synagogues anywhere in Europe,” he noted.
The new synagogue was opened in Kaliningrad on the eve of Kristallnacht’s 80th anniversary. In Koenigsberg, which in 1938 was the capital of the German province of East Prussia, the Nazis destroyed four of the five local synagogues, including the New Synagogue, the biggest in the city, which was built in 1896. The new synagogue was built on the ruins of the New Synagogue.
After its establishment, Some Orthodox congregants seceded from the Jewish Congregation of Königsberg, which they deemed too liberal, and founded the Israelite Synagogal Congregation of Adass Jisroel. In 1893, the Israelite Synagogal Congregation built its own synagogue at 14-15 Synagogenstrasse. Soon the Jewish Congregation of Königsberg built a new and larger place of worship, thereafter called New Synagogue, dedicated in August 1896 in Lomse, following which the synagogue at 2 Synagogenstrasse was referred to as the Old Synagogue.
Both the New Synagogue and the Old Synagogue were destroyed on November 9, 1938.