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Cyprus: A New Jewish Center for Growing Community

By , Larnaca, Cyprus

Jewish life in Cyprus is looking good. Good enough to warrant the establishment of a swank new 13,000 sq. foot Jewish community center, set to the tune of 1.9 million Euro, says its Chief Rabbi Zev Raskin.

Israel’s warm relationship with Cyprus may have something to do with the attraction that brings 60,000 Jews to visit this Mediterranean island year after year. And some, like Heath Cohen, from the United Kingdom, are among 3000 Jewish residents who now call the island home.

“We are like one big family, with the rabbi and his wife at the center,” says Heath. Since Rabbi Zev and Shaindel Raskin opened Chabad of Cyprus in 2003, the Jewish community has been humming with activity. “Now there is always something for everybody in the community.” There’s also standing room only at the packed synagogue in Larnaca, where, says Heath, “many pray outside in the courtyard.”

The Raskins were in Israel last week, celebrating with some 600 guests at the annual “reunion” of Chabad-Lubavitch of Cyprus. It was the perfect opportunity to share news about developments in the Jewish community in Cyprus, and Raskin floored the crowd with his announcement of the opening of the Jewish Educational Cultural Center.

Chabad’s diverse programs and services, among them popular kindergarten, a Hebrew School, daily prayer services, an active mikvah, Jewish holiday programming and a kosher food services, are now dispersed in rented spaces around the city. Not an “ideal situation,” says the energetic rabbi.

The new space will make it possible for all of them to emanate cohesively from one address, including the synagogue and a kosher restaurant. Construction is set to begin later this year.

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