Government Orders Closing of Country's Only Remaining Synagogue

May 27, 2004

Source: Ha-Aretz

On May 27, 2004 Ha-Aretz ran an Associated Press article that reported, "One by one, Jewish worshipers unfurl their white-and-blue prayer shawls and mutter a quick blessing to begin one of the last Sabbath services in Tajikistan's only remaining synagogue. The government of this former Soviet republic has ordered the Jews out of the Dushanbe synagogue by the end of July so it can be demolished with the surrounding neighborhood. The plain, white building where Jews say they have worshiped for more than a century is to be replaced by a 'Palace of Nations' complex, which will serve as Tajik President Emomali Rakhmonov's office. The city has offered several plots on the outskirts of Dushanbe for a new synagogue, but it refuses to offer compensation for the loss of the building, insisting state funds can't be used for religious institutions. The Jewish community, though, says it has no money to rebuild, and is worried that the synagogue's destruction could encourage anti-Semitism in this Muslim-majority country. The Jews argue they should be given land closer to the current house of worship, which stands in the city center, behind metal gates decorated with Stars of David and menorahs."