Chief Rabbi of Russia Berel Lazar has expressed concern about growing anti-Semitism in Europe.
“Here in Russia the situation was rather serious just recently. Synagogues would be blown up, graves destroyed and Jews attacked. The situation has improved now. But in Europe, the situation is what it was in Russia in the worst years,” Lazar told the Russian leadership, according to the rabbi’s press service.
“Happily, the situation is improving in Russia,” he said.
“That’s not just my impression. I often meet with the leaders of international organizations, which monitor anti-Semitic sentiment, and they see positive trends in this country. By contrast, the situation has been deteriorating in many of the European countries, especially in recent years,” the rabbi said.
On the life of the Jewish community in Russia, he said that, “dozens of Jewish schools have opened over the past few years and new synagogues and community centers are build each year.”
“Two hundred cities have Jewish communities. But what matters most in combating anti-Semitism, aggressive nationalism and xenophobia is prevention. People must be reared in the right ideology,” Lazar said.
The fight against xenophobia and anti-Semitism is scoring successes, the rabbi said, noting that, “the government has been demonstrating a robust approach to those who popularize hatred and ethnic enmity.”
Forty-seven people were prosecuted in the first nine months of 2009 on charges of anti-Semitism, and all of them were convicted, six of them to prison terms of five to ten years, he said.