Grand Celebration Marks 25th of Russian Jewish Federation

Hundreds of rabbonim, shluchim and community leaders gathered for the 8th conference of the FJCR – Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia, which also marked 25 years since its founding.

Hundreds of rabbonim, shluchim and community leaders gathered for the 8th conference of the FJCR – Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia, which also marked 25 years since its founding. Russian President Putin sent his greetings to the event.

Representatives of over 150 Jewish communities across Russia gathered in Moscow for the 8th conference of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia, which also marked 25 years since its founding in 1999. In the two and a half decades since, the FJCR has served hundreds of thousands of Jews spread out throughout Russia, and continues to grow and reach even more Russian Jews, assisting them physically and spiritually.

The conference opened with the central session, held at Moscow’s prominent “Marina Roshcha” shul and community center. Throughout the year, the synagogue serves as a focal point for rabbis and community leaders when they visit the Russian capital, offering them a place to daven, study and hold communal activities.

Representatives of all faiths in Russia gathered alongside numerous government officials for the opening session, offering a window into the respect and years-long collaboration which has yielded significant benefits for Russia’s Jewish community. A plethora of congratulatory letters from government offices highlighted the diverse Jewish activities across Russia, with notable figures such as the Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and the Mayor of Moscow Sergey Sobyaninextending their warm regards.

In his opening remarks Russia’s Chief Rabbi Berel Lazaremphasizing the organization’s primary mission: “People who come to a Jewish community want to feel happy with their Judaism, they want to be proud of their Judaism. We must help them bring that desire to fruition, ensuring that the connection to the eternal values of Judaism be felt in every home and every family.” Rabbi Lazar then laid out a number of suggested activities and program that would help “flame the spark” of Judaism in every Jew in Russia.

Following Rabbi Lazar’s address, FJCR spokesperson Rabbi Baruch Gorin, who emceed the session, invited Mr. Yevgeny Armin, Head of the Department for Relations with Religious Organizations at the Office of the Russian President to address the crowd. Mr. Armin expressed gratitude for the FJCR’s dedicated humanitarian efforts. He lauded the construction of impressive shuls and ongoing collaboration with government bodies, particularly in supporting children with special needs, specifically mentioning the new building of the “Or Avner” school in the city of Novosibirsk.

President of the “Stamagi” Foundation and Deputy President of the Russian Jewish Congress, German Zakharev, praised the fruitful collaboration among the organizations, which has led to numerous successes benefiting the country’s Jewish population.

FJCR President Rabbi Alexander Boroda concluded the convention with a detailed report on the organization’s activities over the past four years, highlighting the establishment and successful operation of over 160 synagogues and community centers across Russia, along with achievements in various aspects of Jewish life in many cities.

The convention issued a call for an end to conflicts and urged diplomatic efforts to protect civilians in conflict zones, advocating for peace worldwide. A presentation condemned terrorism in Israel and expressed solidarity with its citizens, juxtaposed with condemnation of the October 7th massacre.

The FJCR commended the Russian President and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for their efforts in securing the release of some hostages in Gaza, which already succeeded in releasing a number of them.

The also expressed their hope that global powers would continue to denounce terrorism in all its forms, while expressingoptimism that the efforts of the global community will result in the release of the remaining hostages in Gaz, and the bodies of those who were murdered in captivity would be brought for burial.

Throughout the convention, community leaders participated in numerous workshops aimed at enhancing community management and expanding outreach to attract more Jews to community institutions. Special Torah classes addressed contemporary halachic issues unique to Russia, with guidance from Chief Rabbi Lazar and the Chief Rabbinate’s dayanim.

At the conclusion of the convention, Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted Chief Rabbi Lazar at the Kremlin. “You know that since the escalation of the situation in the Middle East, Russia is doing everything to help people who are being held hostage. Our Foreign Ministry works through the political arm of Hamas, and we have achieved certain results. Of course, first of all, we paid attention to the citizens of Russia, but not only to them – but also to citizens of other countries, and this also Holocaust survivors and their families.”

During the meeting, which was also attended by the president of the FJCR, Rabbi Alexander Boroda, Putin concluded with a promise: “As I said, there are already certain results, but I understand and know that these efforts must be continued. This is what we are doing, and I wanted to discuss the details of this work with you.”

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