Credit: Federation of the Jewish Communities of the CIS
More than 75 rabbis from Russia attended an emergency meeting held in Moscow on September 5th. The meeting, organized by the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia, discussed the Jewish question in the country and called for the restoration of peace with Ukraine.
“We pray that no more blood be spilled, and call upon people of good conscience everywhere to help aid those in need, including refugees, and end the suffering,” the rabbis declared in a statement.
The number of Jews remaining in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine is large: 139.500 out of 160.000 Jews are in Russia and Belarus; and 188,000 out of 200,000 Jews are still in Ukraine. The rest went to Israel with the great efforts of the Jewish Agency and supporters.
Undoubtedly, the rabbis have played a crucial role in guiding their communities, which live in long-unfelt isolation. The event was led by Berel Lazar, Chief Rabbi of Russia, and supported by Alexander Ben Zvi, Israel's Ambassador to Russia, and Isaac Herzog, President of Israel.
“Always being with their communities is the main task of religious leaders,” Rabbi Lazar said. A life in business or the like offers flexibility, he explained. If a business fails in one market, the business owner can move to another. Not so a rabbi. “A rabbi should always be with his Jews, even in the most difficult times.”
Israel's Chief Rabbis Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef and Rabbi David Lau sent a message to the group, as did human rights activist and former Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky and 20 rabbis from Europe.