16 September 2008

Moscow: Jewish museum planned

The committee for the Russian-Jewish Museum of Tolerance in Moscow approved a final architectural plan this week that would produce the world's largest Jewish museum, according to a story in Haaretz.

Baruch Gorin, the spokesman for Moscow's Jewish communities, told Haaretz that the museum would be established in a historic building at the Jewish community center, which the community received from the Moscow municipality about five years ago.

The complex of buildings already contains several Jewish institutions, including a soup kitchen, the Shaarei Tzedek health services, a Chabad school, and two buildings - a yeshiva and a university - in the final stages of construction. The new museum is meant to be the complex's crowning glory.

Gorin said the museum will commemorate Russian-Jewish history and include galleries of Jewish art and Judaica. Another section will commemorate the Holocaust. Plans include the construction of a large library, a center for Judaic studies and conference rooms. Gorin predicts that after the municipality provides technical permits, construction will begin in early 2009 and finish in 2011.

The Moscow Jewish community signed an agreement with the Russian Cultural Foundation to renovate, expand and create an international Jewish museum. Funding is from the Russian Cultural Foundation, the Moscow Jewish community and Jewish philanthropists - headed by Lev Leviev.

In charge of renovation and expansion is German architectural firm Graft Labs, with design by Ralph Appelbaum Associates. The 9,000 square meter building will be enlarged by adding underground floors totalling 15,000 square meters. This will be the largest Jewish museum in the world.

The space was obtained from Moscow municipality, whose mayor, Yuri Luzhkov understood the importance of creating a Jewish museum. The purpose is to educate about the Holocaust, Jewish history, Jewish culture and attempt to reduce anti-Semitism in the country.

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