Rabbi Michael Farbman was installed Wednesday as the new rabbi of St. Petersburg's Sha'arei Shalom Progressive Jewish Community.
Over 100 visitors from throughout the world arrived to St. Petersburg to attend the ceremony in the House of Composers, joining the members of the community and representatives of the major local Jewish organizations.
Farbman, who was born in Belarus, has been leading the community for 11 months. His predecessor as its rabbi, Alexander Lyskovoi, will leave for Moscow after two years.
Farbman studied at the first reform movement program in Russia, Moscow's Mahon Institute. From there he went on to continue his education at Leo Baeck College in London. Having been ordained as a rabbi, he served as an Assistant Rabbi at West London Synagogue for 5 years before coming to St. Petersburg.
Michael's friend and mentor Mark Winer, the senior rabbi at London West Synagogue, performed the installation ceremony by passing on the Torah to Farbman and saying a benediction. Winer called the moment "a dream come true," as part of the "carrying forward the dream to be free as Jews and as people of the modern world".
Among the visiting dignitaries that gathered in the House of Composers was Rabbi Uri Regev, President of the World Union of Progressive Jews, Steve Bauman, chairman of the WUPJ, Rabbi Joel Oseran, assistant director WUPJ, and Rabbi Yonatan Porath from the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.
Money has been raised in London, Houston and Cleveland for the community before Farbman went to Russia. "We received Pound1 million ($1.75 million) from one family to wish more than our love and good luck to Michael, but to help him reestablish Judaism," Winer said.
"The money has been pledged by one of the friends of our community and we are in the process of searching for and acquiring an appropriate building to be used as a synagogue and a community center," Farbman said Thursday.
Some 100,000 Jews live in St. Petersburg. The majority are secular.
News source: sptimes.ru
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