Kazakhstan, which was part of the former Soviet Union, is famous for being a place of exile for those who were considered as offenders against the former Soviet regime. Many of these exiles would not return to their former homes for many years. Among them was Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Schneerson, father of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, who was exiled to Kazakhstan for his activities in maintaining Jewish life. Rabbi Levi Yitzchok passed away in Almaty after suffering many hardships during his time in exile. His final resting place is in the local Jewish cemetery.
Most of the Jews living in this country are descendants of Jews who were exiled there by the Communists. They include Jews of all types, such as Sephardim and Ashkenazim, and they are united by their tremendous thirst for authentic Judaism. For many years, Kazakhstan was a spiritual desert, without any synagogues or religious institutions. Needless to say, there were no public ritual baths, and until some years ago the only Jewish religious services that took place were held on Shabbat mornings in a rickety hut.
In 1994, a Jewish religious revolution took place in Kazakhstan when Rabbi Yeshayah Elazar Cohen was appointed as head Chabad shliach. Rabbi Cohen, who had already experienced life in the CIS as a shliach in S. Petersburg, was appointed by Agudas Chassidei Chabad to serve in Kazakhstan at the request of the local communities. Since then, Jewish life has reemerged and flourished in this remote country.
Today, Chabad caters to all of the material and spiritual needs of the Kazakh Jewish community. A network of synagogues has been established around the country, as well as luxurious mikva’os, medical centers for circumcision, a kosher meat processing plant, the Chief Rabbinate, and mobile Chabad Houses to reach out to every Jew.
Thousands of Jews all over Kazakhstan have benefited from Chabad’s extensive and unprecedented welfare services, including hot meals for the needy, soup kitchens, hospital visitation, subsidized medicines, Shifra vePuah for newly delivered mothers, and legal aid. A flourishing Jewish education system has also developed, including Sunday morning classes, youth clubs, summer camps, and children’s libraries.
The elderly have also not been left out. There are women’s clubs, learning for the elderly, and activities for the aged before the festivals, including hospitality and communal meals. Kollel Tiferes Levi Yitzchok also gives senior members of the community the chance to learn Torah.
Chabad of Kazakhstan encourages local Jews to move to Israel, and helps those intending to emigrate to prepare spiritually for being accepted into a wider Jewish community, while explaining their connection with the traditions of the Holy Land.
Chabad of Kazakhstan proudly invites you to visit this website, to find out about our many activities, and to give us a helping hand.