Russia's PM to Jewish Delegation: I Was First to Restore Jewish Property!
MOSCOW-In an extraordinary 40 minute meeting with Russian Jewish leaders on November 25, (then) Russian Prime Minister (and now President) Vladimir V. Putin promised to assist Jewish community in combating anti-Semitism, building schools and reclaiming former synagogue buildings for Jewish communities.
Rabbi Berel Lazar, chief Lubavitch emissary to the region, who was recently elected as the head rabbi by delegates to the newly-formed Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia, accompanied Federation officials Lev Leviev, Michael Gluz and Mark Grubarg to present the prime minister with a silver Menorah. Rabbi Lazar described the Menorah as a symbol of religious freedom. Speaking about the miracle of Chanukah, the rabbi and his colleagues described the resurgence of Jewish life in Russia since the fall of communism as a modern miracle.
Mr. Putin said he was familiar with both the menorah and the Chanukah holiday, because as a child his family shared their communal apartment with a Jewish family. He fondly recalled the pleasant demeanor of the various family members, as well as their attempts to preserve their traditions despite Communist reprisals for practicing religion. The Prime Minister recalled that he often saw the father of the house poring over large Talmudic tomes.
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