Some fifteen Russian army officers and military personnel, some wearing a “red star” medal of excellence, came this week to the town of Lubavitch.
The group included a few well-known figures in Russia, including “Russian Hero” (the highest title obtained by only 1,084 people) Jason Nadjafov Radjaf, General Alexander Ilitz Sabaleir, who has a “red star” medal, Colonel Alexander Ibnovitch, who is also a “hero of the red star order”, head of the paratroopers union of the Smolensk region Alexander Lukin, and others. Radjaf, who was born in Azerbaijan, received the “Russian hero” award by presidential order of President Vladimir Putin, for his success in the Chechen war.
The senior officers visited the cemetery at the 33rd anniversary of the Russian withdrawal from Afghanistan – a war they participated in – and said that they came to pray “for peace between the countries in the region” and “to prevent a war.”
The officials explained to the surprised Jews they met there that they had heard that prayers at the gravesite of a Jewish Tzaddik are accepted, and therefore they traveled to this remote village to Daven that there not be another war.
The guests also visited the monument in memory of the Jews in Lubavitch who were murdered in the Holocaust, as well as Chabad’s restored historic buidings in different parts of the town.
Today the small town is home to some 200 people, none of whom are Jewish.
Some 22 years ago, Rabbi Gavriel Gordon was appointed Shliach to Lubavitch. He has since established guest houses, renovated the cemetery, and is constantly uncovering historical findings of the city’s Jewish past.
Rabbi Gordon also oversees the “Mekomos Hakedoshim” in Lubavitch, and is renovating Chabad’s historic buildings, with the assistance of the local government as well as Russia’s Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar and Aguch of Russia, under the leadership of Rabbi Yitzchak Kogan.
In Rabbi Gordon’s words: “in recent years, the town Lubavitch has become a place where thousands come each month to Daven. Most are Jewish, but almost every day I meet non-Jewish people who heard about the place. People flock here from across Russia, and everyone is happily welcomed. I believe that the prayers of the senior officers will be accepted, and perhaps a war will be averted.”