A debate over establishing a new Jewish cemetery in the city of Kazan, capital of the Republic of the semi-autonomous republic of Tatarstan in southwest Russia, is all but resolved, according to the chief rabbi of Kazan and Tatarstan, Yitzchak Gorelik, who spoke to Tatar-inform.
The site for the new cemetery, almost 10 hectares of land, was allotted two years ago. Last year, with the help of the republic, a road was built. All that’s left to do now is prepare the site for use – remove obstacle trees and level the grounds.
“This is really very important, because in the old cemeteries, which are already officially closed, it is difficult to find a burial place,” Rabbi Gorelik said, stressing that “this is a question that burns, directly burns. We constantly monitor the situation. It’s a big job, but it’s moving.”
Rabbi Yitzchak Gorelik and his wife Chana are the Chabad emissaries to the Jewish Community of Kazan.
According to the Jewish Virtual Library, Kazan, capital of the Tatarstan autonomous republic, in the Russian Federation, is an important commercial and industrial center, mainly for the oil industry. Until the 1917 Revolution, Kazan was outside the Jewish Pale of Settlement. In 1861, 184 Jews lived in the city, most of them veterans of the army of Nicholas I. By 1897, their numbers had increased to 1,467 (1.1% of the total population).
Pogroms broke out in Kazan in October 1905. During World War I, many exiles from the battle areas and from Lithuania arrived in Kazan. In 1926, there were 4,156 Jews in the city (2.3% of the population), and their number grew to 5,278 (1.33% of the population) in 1939.
Under the Soviet regime there was no virtually no Jewish communal life in Kazan. During WW2, many refugees reached the city and remained there after the war. The Jewish population of Kazan was estimated at about 8,000 in 1970. One synagogue existed until 1962, when it was closed down by the authorities. Jews prayed in private homes, even though the practice was prohibited. The old Jewish cemetery was still in use in 1970.