By COLlive reporter
Russian President Vladimir Putin paid a public visit to the city of Sevastopol on Monday to mark the fifth anniversary of the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
Visiting the Black Sea peninsula, Putin met with local residents and veterans at the historical memorial the Malakhov Kurgan and held a televised meeting with local officials and faith leaders.
Seated in the front row was Rabbi Binyomin Wolff, a Chabad Shliach who leads the Jewish Community of Sevastopol, who has recently received Russian citizenship.
Rabbi Wolff said at the meeting that the construction of a synagogue and a Jewish community center at the site of a 1941 massacre of Jews in the city was nearing completion.
He invited Putin to its grand opening. Putin thanked him for the invitation and suggested inviting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the inauguration as well.
Rabbi Wolff commented: “I think we will be able to finish building the synagogue by the end of the year, but right now there is a delay due to financing issues. I think they will be solved.”
Hearing that, Putin quipped: “Jews have problems with finances… This is only possible in Crimea.” He then added in Hebrew “Toda Raba” (thank you very much).
Rabbi Wolff took the comment in good humor. “The president was joking,” he later said. “I thanked him for all that he has done for the development of the Jewish community in Sevastopol.”
This is not the first time Putin attempted to make jokes involving Jewish people, the Jerusalem Post noted. In 2017, he told a joke about an Israeli soldier: