Two Ukraine Jewish communities celebrated historic milestones with the arrival of new Torah scrolls for their growing synagogues.

In Cherkassy, a central Ukraine city of some 293,000 residents on the Dnieper River, community members marched through the streets with their new Torah. The scroll, which was gifted to them by the Jewish community of Dnepropetrovsk some 350 kilometers to the southwest, is more than a century old. It was found during the relocation of Dnepropetrovsk’s National Scribal Center.

Before the dedication – a first for the city since Soviet time – Cherkassy Jews under the leadership of Chief Rabbi Dov Axelrod, a Chabad-Lubavitch emissary, had to lease a Torah from Kiev. Rabbi Ruben Margolin, head scribe at the Dnepropetrovsk center, said that after conversations with Axelrod, local supporter Vitaly Zaider and Chief Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetzky decided to “present the Torah as a gift to the Jews of Cherkassy.”

Meanwhile, Jewish residents in Zaporozhye, celebrated their new Torah scroll with a similar procession through the southeastern city’s streets.

Local community members Israel Dvoretskiy and Artur Abdinov sponsored the Torah, which was dedicated in the city’s synagogue. During the Nazi occupation from 1941 to 1943, the synagogue served as the starting point for a death march of some 37,000 Jews. It returned to communal hands in 1994 after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

“This is our genuine response to that which was done by the Nazis,” one community member said at the dedication ceremony.

The Jewish communities of Cherkassy and Zaporozhye are members of the Federation of Jewish Communities of the Former Soviet Union.