Chabad House in Kazakhstan 'Navigating a Spiritual Desert'

Published: 
June 27, 2009

Source: Jerusalem Post

 

In Astana, capital of Kazakhstan, a new synagogue stands. Above the synagogue, built by a donation of Eurasia Jewish Congress President Alexander Machkevich, dwells the family of Chabad emissary Rabbi Yehuda Kubalkin. There, in one of the world's most remote Jewish communities, he tries to connect the remnant of Kazakhstan's Jews with their tradition.

 

Kubalkin believes that somewhere between 30,000 and 40,000 Jews live in Kazakhstan. But the decades of Soviet-enforced atheism, anti-Semitism, assimilation and intermarriage mean that few of Astana's Jews are connected to their roots. Kazakhstan's Jewish community is made up of exiles from Russia, refugees, and former prisoners and communists many who are very alienated and ignorant of Judaism. Kubalkin and his family try to reach out to these Jews and reconnect them with Judaism.

 

There aren't enough children in Astana to start a school. Instead, online courses, in which teachers in Israel communicate with children from tiny Jewish communities around the world over the Internet, have been set up to get around the problem. Rabbi Kubalkin's children also take part in this online educational network.

Updated: Jul. 01, 2009
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