By COLlive reporter
In what has become the best of traditions for the past decade, Russian President Vladimir Putin sent a special letter in honor of Rosh Hashana to the Chief Rabbi of Russia Berel Lazar.
The President’s greetings to the Jewish community on the new Jewish year were also published in the official Russian press. In his letter, the President wrote:
“I extend my wishes to you in honor of Rosh Hashana, one of the most important holidays in the Jewish calendar. This holiday symbolizes moral purity and aspiration to become better. During these days people take stock of the past year, and make plans on how to be better in the future.
“It is with satisfaction that I note, that the Jewish religious organizations are active participants in making this country better. They are exemplary in their charitable activities, large-scale educational projects, and are passing on their rich spiritual history and forefather’s culture to the younger generation.
“The Jewish communities are important contributors to the interreligious dialogue, and to strengthening friendship between the Peoples of Russia, a friendship that has existed for hundreds of years.”
In preparation for the High Holidays, the Federation of Jewish Communities in Russia has shipped Machzorim and Talitot to hundreds of communities throughout the vast country. Baalei Tefilla and Baalei Tekia were arranged, as well as additional assistance to Chabad shluchim in all of Russia.
In addition to the letter, President Putin hosted Rabbi Lazar and Rabbi Alexander Boroda, President of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Russia, in the Kremlin on Erev Rosh Hashana.
Rabbi Lazar mentioned at the meeting that Rosh Hashana marked the birth of humankind with the creation of Adam. President Putin went on to ask him how many children does he have.
“Thank G-d, 14. And 7 grandchildren,” Rabbi Lazar replied.
Putin didn’t hold back his surprise reaction. “We, the citizens of Russia, need to take an example from you – 14 children!”
The President went on to say: “You have to take your hat off to your wife… May G-d grant her good health.”
When the conversation turned to the foods customarily eaten on Rosh Hashana, Rabbi Lazar mentioned the apple dipped in honey to symbolize the sweet taste and joys of life granted by G-d.
When Putin mentioned that he might try it in the upcoming year, Rabbi Boroda said gefilte fish is also an option. “Well, I know that…” Putin said laughing.