The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, America’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization, is pained by the actions taken by the government of Tajikistan in undertaking the destruction of the only synagogue in Dushanbe. Following two years of negotiations between the government of Tajikistan, the State of Israel, and the United States, during which the Tajik government assured the Jewish community that it would be fairly compensated for its beloved building, water and phone lines were shut off without warning on February 7. Bulldozers arrived to destroy part of the building just two weeks later.
President Stephen J. Savitsky and Executive Vice President Rabbi Tzvi H. Weinreb issued the following statement:
Jews, and all who cherish religious freedom and culture, share the pain of the Dushanbe Jewish community following the demolition of their city’s one and only synagogue, one the largely elderly and underprivileged community cannot afford to rebuild. We expect that the government of a state such as Tajikistan would be religiously tolerant rather than exert control of private religious property for the sake of presidential largesse. We are disturbed by the government’s justification for demolishing the city’s only synagogue, mikvah, classroom and kosher butcher that serviced the approximately 280 Jews that reside in the city: to make way for the a brand new presidential palace. We call upon the government of Tajikistan to negotiate in good will with the Jewish community of Dushanbe so that they can recreate their communal and religious center.