New Leader of Crimean Karaites to Seek Return of Simferopol Kenesa
The Krymkaraylar Association of Crimean Karaites has elected a new chairman. Twenty-five-year-old Illya Kalfa will replace Volodymyr Ormeli as the new head, Religion in Ukraine reports.
Volodymyr Ormeli, who led Krymkaraylar for 12 years, voluntarily resigned but remained honorary chairman of the association, and continues to lead the Ukrainian Association of Karaites.
Ormeli describes his successor as a promising and suitable replacement and has high expectations for him. “I'm sure he will be a good head,” said Ormeli.
Illya Kalfa teaches complexity science at Simferopol Higher Vocational College Catering and Tourism. He has been a member of the association since 1997.
The new head of the association said that his priorities are to protect the Karaim sanctuary – Chufut Kale – and to return to the Karaims the Simferopol kenesa (house of worship of Karaites). “When we achieve this, I will consider my work satisfactory and complete,” said Kalfa.
The Krymkaraylar Association of Crimean Karaites are prohibited from hold traditional cultural events in the Chufut-Kale. The Karaims accuse the administration of the Bakhchysarai Reserve, which manages the fortress, of wanting to take away their sanctuary.
The Simferopol kenesa is a Karaim religious building in Simferopol, an architectural monument of the late 19th century. The kenesa was built on Karaim Street, next to the old kenesa in 1891-1896 to meet the needs of the growing Karaim community, at the expense of the community. On March 5, 1930, by the decision of local authorities, the kenesa was closed. In 1934-1935 the building was partially rebuilt and some of the religious decoration was removed. Since 1936 the building has housed the Krym State Television radio broadcasting office.