Rabbi Abram Lubanov
After the death of Gluskin, the post of Rabbi in Leningrad was vacant for 7 years. In 1943, a new Rabbi, Abram Lubanov, came to Leningrad. The following story is told:
In 1943, the new Plenipotentiary for the Affairs of Religion and Cults came to Leningrad. He noted that the synagogue was open but there was no Rabbi. He found this unacceptable and recalled a Rabbi from a prison camp where the Plenipotentiary had himself been the head. They say that this is how Lubanov found himself in Leningrad. Rabbi Lubanov descended from a family of Lubavicher Chasids. The years of his youth and education at a Chasidic Yeshiva coincided with the flourishing of Chasidic erudition and tolerance in the Jewish religious world. At his post, Lubanov was completely loyal to every group of believers; they repaid him with their absolute trust and respect.
In the late 1940s, Lubanov was arrested again; he spent some months in "the Crosses". He undertook hunger strike there and received permission to get kosher food from home. In the 1950s and the 1960s, the persecution of religion and the clergy continued. Nevertheless, Jews performed circumcisions and Jewish wedding rituals, and not only in the Synagogue. They set up the Khuppa at home. In the 1950s and 1960s, the Choral Synagogue employed an impressively numerous staff in comparison to the number of worshippers, as Lubanov provided shelter and employment to those who left their provinces to escape persecution for their faith. The influence of Rabbi Lubanov on the religious community was so considerable that there were neither serious conflicts, nor thefts in the years when he occupied the post. He was a man of modest needs; although he received payment for performing rituals in addition to his salary, he gave it all away to those who were in need.
The Rabbi lived together with his wife and his daughters in a little room in the Synagogue. Some guests always came to him to celebrate the Sabbath. Even when the authorities gave him a three-room apartment in Moskovskiy District, Lubanov continued to celebrate the Sabbath in that room. In the late 1960s, Lubanov had a leg amputated and was no longer able to come to the Synagogue every day. Nevertheless, he remained the spiritual leader of the community. His home was always open to believers. On the Sabbath and on holidays, a minyan gathered in his apartment. Shortly before Pesach, they would bring the Rabbi to the matzoth bakery where he checked the quality of the flour. When some complex conflict occurred, Jews came to him for a Torah Trial, although it was officially forbidden. Lubanov died in 1973 when he was 85. By that time, burials were already forbidden in Jewish cemetery. However, with the help of American Jews, the community obtained permission for the burial. He is buried in the old section, near the Farewell House.
Rabbi Abram Lubanov. Photo