The mayor of Dnepropetrovsk, Ivan Kulichenko, as well as the main municipal architect, Julia Saenko, enthusiastically welcomed the project. On his travels, the mayor proudly showed the sketches and drawings to international colleagues, in particular his colleague from Jerusalem, Uri Lupolianski. The result was a strengthening of the ties between the two cities. In Julia Saenko’s own words, ‘It’s good for the image of the city, a step forward for democracy, freedom of religion and revitalisation.’ Both the mayor and architect emphasise that the complex is intended to serve the entire city.
The Menorah project, completed in 2012, was undertaken as part of the many building activities taking place in this period. The EURO 2012 Football Championships, hosted by Ukraine together with co-host Poland, served as the catalyst for these building activities.
The Menorah has a great many functions and can accommodate over 10,000 visitors, or about a fifth of the entire Jewish population of Dnepropetrovsk. The first floor houses a shopping centre with different shops selling kosher food, kosher restaurants, coffee shops, an Internet café, and a bookshop. The upper floors have various areas devoted to education and special facilities for children, women, and senior citizens. The complex also houses a hotel.
A special place is occupied by the Jewish Memory and Holocaust Museum in Ukraine realised in cooperation with the Israeli Yad Vashem institution. The museum houses a very special collection of modern Jewish art as well as an area reserved for exhibitions focusing on modern Jewish life. There is also space available for temporary exhibitions. The museum and collection are supported financially by Igor Kolomoysky who, like Gennady Bogolyubov, is a Private Group Partner.
The architect, Alexander Sorin, was given great freedom by the client in the design. Igor Kolomoisky, president of the United Jewish Community of Ukraine, as well as Gennady Bogolyubov, chairman of the Jewish community of Dnepropetrovsk, explain: ‘We gave the architect a free hand in designing a very large Jewish community centre.’ In doing so, Sorin was assisted by Gennady Axelrod, the developer of the concept and building manager.