A new state-funded synagogue in Baku has just opened to much fanfare. The opening in the presence of the Israeli ambassador and distinguished state officials, is indeed cause for celebration – where Jews in other Muslim republics are dwindling fast, the Jews of Azerbaijan are thriving:
BAKU, Azerbaijan — The opening of the new synagogue building for Mountain Jews of Azerbaijan, built with government funding in less than six months, took place on April 5. The crowd of attendees was so large at the opening ceremony in central Baku that the police had to block traffic.
Before the ceremony, the chairman of the Mountain Jews community in Azerbaijan, Semyon Ikhiilov, welcomed the distinguished guests. He gave a brief tour of the building, which was built in the historic Jewish district of Baku. Everyone was awed by the sanctuary, with its high ceilings and windows, an ornate ceiling, a luminous chandelier, comfortable seating, and an impressive Aron Kodesh (Torah ark).