by Samuel D. Gruber
(ISJM) The community of "Mountain Jews" in Baku, Azerbaijan opened an impressive new synagogue on April 5th. The building was designed by architect Alexander Garber. The construction of the building was sponsored by the government. This follows a the large 3-story synagogue building that opened in the city in 2003. In all there five synagogues in Azerbaijan, with three in Baku. I don't know a lot about azerbaijan synagogues, so I'll try to collect some more information and present it at another time.
Here is the article about the opening provided by the Federation of Jewish Communities in the CIS:
New Synagogue for Mountain Jews of Baku (Thursday, April 7 2011)
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). The other wing of the new synagogue holds a dining room and kitchen on the ground floor, a conference hall, chairman’s office and reception area on the second floor, and the library on the third floor.“We Jews of Azerbaijan would like to express our sincere appreciation to our distinguished President Ilham Aliyev, who personally undertook that this house of worship be built! This is a unique case: in no other country in the world, not even in Israel, does the state build a synagogue at its own expense. This happens only in Azerbaijan,” emphasized Mr. Ikhiilov.
Read the entire article here.
Baku used to have many synagogues which are now destroyed. Below you can see some images of these vanished buildings from old postcards published by V. Likhodedov in Synagogues. One of these was among the most impressive classical style synagogues of its time - built very much in the style of contemproary opera houses and concert halls.