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Putin and Chabad sect in Russia. Leader of Russian Jewry, Rabbi Berel Lazar praises Vladimir Putin.





Vladimir Putin, often described as a creature of the KGB, owed his rapid promotion to Moscow to the Family, Yeltsin's self-serving band of oligarchs and neoliberal economists, which were thought of by Bill Clinton as Russia's future. The nemesis of US's plans to reshape Russia in its image did not emerge from the communist party, but from the bowels of the regime Washington was supporting. Putin's career very nearly foundered on a scandal in which Petersburg lost $100m of food imports as barter for Russian timber, oil and other raw materials.

Russia’s back-in-office President Vladimir Putin can be sure that he has a steadfast supporter in Rabbi Berel Lazar, the country’s Chief Rabbi and Head Shliach.

With continued criticism against the Kremlin’s growing control and Russian Jewish leadership which doubted “Putin’s commitment to protecting Russia’s Jews,” Lazar stands out.

“There wasn’t a single thing that he was asked to do to benefit Judaism or the Jewish communities that he did not respond to positively,” Rabbi Lazar said about Putin, who has been ruling the country since 1999.

As President and Prime Minister, Putin “constantly took interest in the situation of the Jews in the country, showed care for their needs and has done a lot to eradicate anti-Semitism and returning Jewish buildings that were nationalized,” Rabbi Lazar told the Israeli haredi ‘Hamevaser.’

“We are nearing completion on a Jewish museum which will be one of the largest in the world. President Putin has contributed alot for the advancement of its building and he himself donated one paycheck of his, which led many others to donate as well,” he added.

Putin was inaugurated in lavish ceremony in the Kremlin on 7 May 2012 in front of the inner circles of the Russian establishment. Among the religious leaders attending were Rabbi Lazar and Alexander Boroda, the Chairman of the Board for the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia.

“I blessed him in the name of Russian Jewry and told him that the number three in Judaism symbolizes a ‘Chazakah’ (a Halachic term for permanence),” Rabbi Lazar said.

Source: http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/news/headlines-breaking-stories/128006/rabbi-berel-lazar-praises-vladimir-putin.html#sthash.SMXVcNYK.dpuf

First Contacts from Vladimir Putin and Chabad

It is not known exactly when Putin and Lazar first met, but Putin, who is said to be impressed by Lazar’s strict religious observance, has showered Lazar with his appreciation. First and foremost among these privileges was his blessing of Lazar as chief rabbi of the Federation. This was not as simple as it may sound, since Gusinsky’s Russian Jewish Congress already had a chief rabbi—the Siberian-born Adolf Shayevich, the spiritual leader of the Russian capital’s prestigious Moscow Choral Synagogue. Shayevich refused to step down and has alleged that Leviev offered him $240,000 to resign. To this day, there are two chief rabbis of Russia and a deep enmity between the two men. Earlier this year, Shayevich called Lazar “an agent of the Kremlin” on Russian TV.

But Putin has found plenty of ways to express his preference for Lazar. He invited Lazar, not Shayevich, to his first State of the Nation speech in June 2000; the following year, he removed Shayevich from the government’s religious affairs council and appointed Lazar in his place. Lazar reciprocated by assuring the public that Putin’s actions against the likes of Gusinsky and Berezovsky had nothing to do with anti-Semitism, and that Russia at large was free of that scourge. In the face of growing Russian anti-Semitism in the middle of the first decade of the century, Lazar has toned down the latter point. He condemned a 2005 open letter signed by 500 nationalists, including members of the Russian Parliament, that called on Putin to ban all Jewish organizations. He also spoke out against violent attacks on Jews, including one on a Chabad rabbi in Moscow.

Lazar has consistently followed Putin’s lead. “Challenging the government is not the Jewish way,” Lazar has said. As a result of the Putin-Lazar bond, Chabad has become the dominant Jewish force in Russia, with synagogues, schools, festivals, extensive programming and representatives in nearly 50 cities across the country. It is reported to have a $60 million annual budget, much of it supplied by Putin’s Jewish allies, eclipsing all other Jewish denominations. In 2012, Lazar received what can only be considered the jewel in the crown: Putin gave him supervision of Moscow’s $50 million Jewish Museum and Center of Tolerance, which was largely funded by Jewish oligarchs Abramovich and Vekselberg. The Lazar-Putin relationship is so tight that during the 2014 Olympics, Putin gave the 50-year-old rabbi special dispensation to enter the stadium on Shabbat without passing through the electronic gate. Again, Lazar returned the favor: A month later, he attended the victory speech Putin gave at the Kremlin after the occupation of Crimea. He was the only Jewish leader present.

Even the secularly oriented Russian Jewish Congress, which has an annual budget of $12 million and 37 local chapters, rarely strays far from Kremlin policy. Investor Mikhail Fridman (net worth $15.6 billion), founder of Alfa Group—one of Russia’s largest privately held investment groups—and another of Putin’s Jewish oligarchs, sits on its board. The group is particularly proud of its flagship Memorial Synagogue, erected in 1998 in a huge park on Moscow’s Poklonnaya Gora, which is dedicated to the Soviet victory in World War II and to those who perished in it. The park is a reminder of the breakup of the Soviet Union into independent nations, an event that remains a gaping hole in the Russian psyche, especially Putin’s. The synagogue’s presence in Poklonnaya Gora is both a testament to the Jewish contribution to the war and an expression of allegiance to the Russian state. “Of course we support the political authorities that exist,” Russian Jewish Congress president Yuri Kanner tells me. “This is halacha.” He adds: “The most important thing is that the authorities do not hinder our efforts to rebuild Jewish life.”

Author Masha Gessen says that with respect to religion—all religions—Putin is simply continuing the policies adopted under Stalin.

“Religion is to be a subordinate part of the state,” she says. “Conflict, if there is any, is between independent clergy and their religious institution, but not between that institution and the state. And in the case of the war of the rabbis, from Putin’s perspective, both Shayevich and Lazar are subordinate to the state. Their personal rivalry might be intense, but it’s politically insignificant.”

Putin sponsoring the Jewish Communities

But in spite of the general absence of Jewish observance, Chabad, glaringly religious with a strong missionary agenda, has become the dominant force in Russian Jewish life. Its reach extends to more than 170 cities across Russia, where in many far-flung locales the community center set up by the Lubavitch emissary and his family represents the only Jewish institution in town. Lazar estimates that 90 percent of rabbis in Russia are affiliated with Chabad. On top of its religious work, Chabad sponsors hundreds of schools and social-service programs, publishes a well-respected magazine, L’Chaim, and even stages klezmer festivals. In 2012, it opened the $50-million Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center – with a sizeable donation from Russian Jewish billionaire Viktor Vekselberg – around the corner from Marina Roscha. Technologically dazzling and rooted in Russian history, the museum has become a token of Chabad’s acknowledgment of secular Jewish life.

It is easier to be Jewish in Russia

All the wars and splits notwithstanding, it is evident that—as both Putin’s supporters and detractors informed me—it has never been easier or safer to be Jewish in Russia than under his rule. In Moscow’s Marina Roshcha neighborhood, young Orthodox families throng to the kosher gourmet store, which recently opened conveniently near the small local synagogue and almost next door to the huge Chabad complex made up of a school, JCC and Jewish museum.

Though rapidly becoming something of a local Upper West Side, Marina Roshcha is only one of the capital’s 21 Jewish communities and synagogues listed in the latest issue of Moscow-Jerusalem, a free Jewish monthly. In September of this year, its glossy cover showed a pensive bearded gentleman with kippah and tzitzit, the director of a Jewish center, seated next to a red Soviet-style banner, the kind that used to proclaim the glory of the Communist Party. In the same white lettering, the banner says: “Glory to G-d!”

Glory indeed. Between glittering new synagogues and young Jews flocking services, images of Putin in a kippah attending Jewish events on state TV and the success stories of Jewish oligarchs, there is an unmistakable air of achievement among Russian Jewry today. And it is not just Chabad. Mikhail Simanovsky, who is in his late 20s, runs the Moscow Hillel from a small office in the back of a cluttered courtyard in the capital’s downtown. Hillel, he says, is thriving. Like other Jewish institutions, it suffered as a result of the crash of 2008, when funding became scarce and 11 of Russia’s 15 Hillel chapters had to close down. But just a few days before we met, four new centers opened. In Moscow, an average of 70 people come to Erev Shabbat dinner at the Hillel, but the first one this year, after the college summer break, attracted 120.

Simanovsky says the outlook for Jews is bright. “True, there is some social anti-Semitism, but there is also a growing opposite trend—Jewish is cool. People tell us we are lucky to be Jewish. This Moscow Day, we had a Hillel stand among the stands of many different organizations, and only one person of the hundreds that came to see it was unpleasant—and she was an old, obviously deranged woman.”


Putin Remarks and Support for Israel

"I am closely tracking what is happening in Israel," Russian President Vladimir Putin remarked in a meeting with a delegation of Chief Rabbis and representatives of the Rabbinical Center of Europe.

The purpose of the meeting, according to the Kremlin, was to discuss joint efforts to prevent the rewriting of history, the fight against neo-Nazism and neo-fascism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism.

"It is important to discuss the subject of the Holocaust of the World War II era. There are Holocaust survivors among the rabbis, they have their personal, dramatic stories," Rabbi Alexander Boroda, President of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia, told Interfax-Religion.

Boroda was seated across from Putin during the meeting, alongside Russia's Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar, Israel's Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef, TelAviv Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau and others.

At one point during the meeting, Rabbi Yosef commented that "hours before I flew here, a rocket landed near my house in Jerusalem, the capital of the Jewish nation."

"It goes without saying there is great anxiety among my children and grandchildren who were forced to enter bomb shelters, for no fault of their own," he said, adding that it is "hard to describe the emotional damage that is being done to them. All this is just for the crime that they were born to the Jewish nation."

The Chief Rabbi concluded by asking the president to use his power "to bring a stop to the violence. There cannot be a situation where people use religion to slaughter the innocent."

Most of the Israeli population is currently living under the threat of rocket fire. Life between sirens, in and out of bomb shelters, has become the daily reality for millions of Israelis.

Hamas terrorists in Gaza have fired more than 200 rockets at Israel since Operation Protective Edge began on Monday, July 7 – and over 650 rockets since the beginning of 2014.

According a news report, Putin replied by asking Rabbi Yosef to pass along a message to Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Russia is a true friend of Israel and of the Prime Minister.

“We have to clearly realize that any attempts to review our country’s contribution to the great victory, and to deny the Holocaust – a shameful page in the world history – isn’t just a cynical and unprincipled lie, but the oblivion of lessons from history which could result in a repeat of the tragedy,” ~ Vladimir Putin.

Quotes about Putin.

"Russia has in Vladimir Putin its “most pro-Jewish leader,” whom he credits with “fighting anti-Semitism more vigorously than any Russian leader before him.” - Russia's chief rabbi, Berel Lazar.

Politicians in today’s Russia “would not risk taking anti-Semitic or a so-called anti-Zionist stand," "Any impartial observer should acknowledge Putin’s big role in this.” - Berl Lazar, Chief Rabbi of Russia.

"Putin’s pro-Jewish tendencies are part of the reason that anti-Semitic incidents are relatively rare in Russia. In 2013, the Russian Jewish Congress documented only 10 anti-Jewish attacks and acts of vandalism, compared to dozens in France". - Mikhail Chlenov, secretary general of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress.

“Putin has facilitated the opening of synagogues and Jewish community centers across Russia, at the Jewish community’s request. This has had a profound effect on Jewish life, especially outside Moscow,” Gorin said. “He instituted annual meetings with Jewish community leaders and attends community events. His friendship with the Jewish community has given it much prestige and set the tone for local leaders.” - Gorin, a Chabad rabbi and chairman of Moscow’s Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center

Zvi Gitelman, a professor of Judaic studies at the University of Michigan who studies the relationship between ethnicity and politics in the former Soviet Union, said “Chabad, with the help of Putin, is now the dominant religious expression of Judaism in a mostly nonreligious population,” Gitelman said.

"Putin is philosemitic and has a warm feeling for Israel, though he is a pragmatist. There are quite a few Jews among his close associates and personal friends." - Yevgeny Satanovsky, member and ex-president of Russian Jewish Congress.

"Medvedev will be wonderful for the Jews, just as Putin was" - Lev Leviev, billionaire tycoon in Israel, Jewish activist and big time Zionist.

"Friendship never hurt anyone. But I have great respect for this person [Putin] and I consider that this is a person sent to our country from God." - Arkadiy Rottenberg, Jewish-Russian multi-billionaire oligarch, personal friend of Putin and his former judo training partner. His nephew now plays for an Israeli team.

"Arkady Rotenberg proves time and time again that if you know the right people the sky is indeed the limit." - Jewish Business News.

"Putin’s pro-Jewish tendencies are part of the reason that anti-Semitic incidents are relatively rare in Russia. In 2013, the Russian Jewish Congress documented only 10 anti-Jewish attacks and acts of vandalism, compared to dozens in France.""Putin is not only not anti-Semitic, he’s philo-Semitic". - Mikhail Chlenov, one of Vice Presidents of World Jewish Congress and secretary general of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress.

"The status of Jews in Russia, is often a barometer of how Russia rulership treats its society, Putin has been better for Russian Jews than any in Russian history, and if you want evidence of that, just ask Israel." - Stephen Cohen, professor at Princeton and New York University, CBS News consultant as well as a member of the [American] Council on Foreign Relations.

"Few would dispute that Putin has been friendly to Jewish institutional life in Russia", "Putin is good for Jews" (non-verbatim, but generally implied). - Cnaan Liphshiz and Talia Lavin, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, "Putin’s Jewish embrace: Is it love or politics".



Tags: putin and chabad sect in russia.
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