Giant Synagogue in the So-Called Secular Capital of Israel
As of this week, Shenkin Street, the street that epitomized the “Tel Aviv Spirit” in the cosmopolitan, beta+ rated world city "that never sleeps”, and from where the most exciting mainstream and alternative music, theater and dance groups emerged during the 80s, has an unexpected, renewed landmark.
The delapidated Geulat Moshe Synagogue, built there in 1937 by the Georgian Jewish community, that stood out like a sore thumb in the renewed street, has been renovated by the World Congress of Georgian Jewry and will be run by the Chabad Lubavitch Movement.
The story began when Gabriel Mirilashvili, son of the Congress’ founder, came there to say Kaddish for his father at the beginning of the year. He met Rabbi Gerlitzky, the Chabad rabbi of Tel Aviv, there, who told him that his late father Moshe Mirilashvili was the main supporter of the synagogue and of the neighborhood's poor. The rabbi suggested that the son renovate the Holy Ark in memory of his father, but Mirlashvili decided to fund the renovation of the entire synagogue. It was renamed “Beit Moshe” after his father. The Chabad rabbi promised to see that regular services are held there each day.
Photo - synagogue before and after renovation:
At the dedication, 18 Torah scrolls, donated by the Georgian Jewish Congress, the Euro Asiatic Jewish Congress headed by Dr. Alexander Moshkvitz and the citizens of Tel Aviv, were carried festively into the synagogue. Speaker of the Knesset, MK Ruby Rivlin, other MK’s and dignitaires, the Chief Rabbis, Georgian Rabbis isand Chabad representatives, world entrepeneur Lev Leveiv who also heads the World Congress of Bucharian Jewry, Dr.Alexander Moshvitz, head of the Euro Asiatic Congress were present.
President Shimon Peres was awarded a pure gold and diamond encrusted medal called “The Legend”, the second awarded in Israel. The first was given to Ariel Sharon during his term as Prime Minister.
Mirilashvili had an emotional story to tell, relating that “a white dove was perched on top of the Holy Ark when I first came to plan the renovations. I felt as if it was a messenger from my father telling me that he approved of the way I memorialized him. I saw it again at the Western Wall and every time I returned to the synagogue.”
45 additional synagogues that belong to Georgian Jews will be renovated within the next year, the organizers promised.