The opening of the new synagogue for the so-called Mountain Jews of Azerbaijan, built with government funding in less than six months, blocked traffic in the capital of Baku.

At the April 5 ceremony attended by Israeli Ambassador Michael Lavon Lotem, top government officials, legislators, and guests from abroad, community chairman Semyon Ikhiilov gave guests a brief tour of the building in the capital’s historic Jewish district. With a sanctuary accented by high ceilings and towering windows, a luminous chandelier and an ornate ark to house the synagogue’s Torah scrolls, the building also holds a dining room and kitchen, conference hall, chairman’s office and reception area, and a Jewish library.

“We Jews of Azerbaijan would like to express our sincere appreciation to our distinguished President Ilham Aliyev, who personally committed to building this house of worship,” said Ikhiilov, who works with Chabad-Lubavitch Rabbi Shneor Segal, the city’s chief rabbi. “In no other country in the world does the state build a synagogue at its own expense.”

The Jewish community of Baku is a member of the Federation of Jewish Communities of the Former Soviet Union.