Peter the Great did the unthinkable. In 1703 on the marshes of the Gulf of Finland, he built a new city which became Russia's capital. Then he scandalized his court by making Piotr Shafirov his vice - chancellor. Shafirov was of Jewish ancestry, and Jews were forbidden to live in Russia (until 1917). You will find out how fortunes of the Jews rose and fell with the whims of the czars and Soviet leaders, about Pale of settlement, you will see the house where Shneur Zalman a founder of Chabad Hasidism lived and find out why he was imprisoned.
Surprisingly but Jewish life has never been so vibrant as nowadays. You will visit one of the Organizations like Eva, Adain Lo or Yesod that run social, educational and welfare programs. Another visit is to the second largest in Europe Choral Synagogue - the heart of the city's limited religious life located in the former Jewish area known as Kolomna. You will chat there with the Rabbi, cantor (a good friend of ours) or just local Jews. The memorial plague on the front door of the Synagogue keeps the names of the Jewish families who contributed to the survival of Jewish traditions: Ginsburgs, Polyakoff and others. Not many guides like ours will show you another remarkable memorial plague in the down town that commemorates the birth place of the first ORT in the world in 1880!
The Jewish exposition of the Ethnography museum introduces its visitors to the Jewish (Ashkenazi) collection which illustrates the Eastern European Jewish culture. Splendid examples of religious artifacts, items used during religious ceremonies or for protecting the scrolls of the Torah demonstrate many facets of the Jewish artistic traditions and throw light on the everyday life of the Jewish people.
For lunch stop at one of the kosher or vegetarian restaurants like "Idiot" (named for Dostoyevsky novel).
Services included: Expert guide, Moto coach, Visit to the Synagogue, Jewish center, and overview of the Jewish exposition at the Ethnography museum.
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