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Russian President Medvedev Meets With Jewish Leaders

lazar.jpgMoscow, Russia – On November 26 in the Kremlin, President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with a delegation from the Jewish community of Russia. The delegatioin was headed by Chief Rabbi of Russia Berel Lazar and the president of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia Alexander Boroda as well as representatives of the European Jewish Congress. The meeting with the president touched on the questions of anti-Semitism and xenophobia in Russia and abroad. In addition, the development of intercultural and interreligious dialogue in Russia and Europe was touched upon.

In his speech, President Medvedev praised the Jewish community’s activities in Russia and in the prevention of xenophobia and he noted that this meeting was very useful. President Medvedev also supported the Jewish community’s plan to build a Russian Jewish Museum of Tolerance, which will be located in Moscow. The president called the creation of this complex a rather challenging task.

In response to Rabbi Lazar’s proposal to recognize the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz (January 27) as a national holiday, President Medvedev instructed his administration to look into and elaborate on this issue. With respect to anti-Semitism, President Medvedev said: “Anti-Semitism in our country is becoming much less prevalent. I would certainly not go so far as to say that the situation is ideal, but it has become known that anti-Semitism will simply not be tolerated in the political environment. No sane politician today would make any statements incriminating him in this manner.”

The President also expressed his hope that the efforts of Jewish organizations active in the country, including the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia, will continue to be “aimed at the promotion of tolerance,” stressing that “this is very necessary in Russia and is also really needed throughout Europe as a whole.”

Rabbi Lazar further commented, “In Russia, we are fortunately seeing an improvement in respect to anti-Semitism. I often meet with leaders of various international organizations engaged in monitoring anti-Semitism and they are also noticing positive momentum in our country in this regard.”

Rabbi Lazar painted a clearer picture for the participants of the meeting about this positive trend. “In the last few years alone, dozens of new Jewish schools have opened and, each year, new synagogues and community centers are also being built. Today, there are vibrant Jewish communities in more than 200 cities across the country. But, of course, the key to combat anti-Semitism, aggressive nationalism and xenophobia, is prevention. Through education we can instill in people beliefs that foster a desire for respect, tolerance and coexistence.”

The Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia is affiliated with the Federation of Jewish Communities of the CIS and Baltic Countries.

(Source: FJC)

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