Sunday, June 7, 2015

‘Putin’s rabbi’ says challenging governments is not Jewish

[...] An emissary for Chabad, Lazar, 51, would go on to become one of Russia’s two chief rabbis, a major and controversial force in the dramatic revival of Russian Jewry following decades of Communist oppression and mass immigration to Israel, the United States, Germany and elsewhere.

Lazar’s work, his Russia boosterism and his ties to the Kremlin — he is sometimes called “Putin’s rabbi” — has helped Chabad’s Russian branch eclipse all the Jewish groups vying to reshape the country’s community of 250,000 Jews. Now Lazar heads a vast network that comprises dozens of employees and plentiful volunteers working in hundreds of Jewish institutions: schools, synagogues, community centers and kosher shops.

“I am amazed at what became of a community that had been stripped of everything, even its books,” Lazar said, referring to Soviet Jewry before the fall of communism, when religious practice was suppressed.[...]

But criticism of Lazar’s partnership with Putin persists as the Russian president makes use of his pro-Jewish credentials in justifying his policies. The strongman has repeatedly cited the alleged anti-Semitism of Ukrainian nationalists in justifying Russia’s 2014 annexation of the Ukraine-controlled Crimea. In January, Putin inveighed against Ukrainian nationalists — he called them “Banderites,” a reference to the Ukrainian Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera — during a speech he delivered on International Holocaust Memorial Day, when he was Lazar’s guest at Moscow’s Jewish museum.

Lazar has also been criticized for his presence at Kremlin events, like the one last year celebrating Russia’s Crimea annexation. (“Like other clerics, my duties include officiating at state events,” Lazar said in an interview with JTA.)[...]

Challenging the government is not the Jewish way, and [Gusinsky] put the Jewish community in harm’s way,” said Lazar, noting that the chief rabbi should be apolitical, not a government critic. “I wanted to have nothing to do with this.” [...]


  1. This rabbi is smart. Or at least cautious enough to survive. Look how many Billionaires have tried to go against Putin and have been crushed, imprisoned, or mysteriously end up dead. After centuries of oppression, there is one "Czar" called Putin who does not persecute the Jews - he should be respected.

  2. It is clearly his duty to make sure that Jews are not seen has having their own political agenda. As such he must attend ANY event in which he is normally expected to participate.

  3. He is being criticized within chabad for fighting against lubavitch's efforts to get
    Back the previous rebbe's library.

  4. RDE, interesting JPost article on being falsely accused of molestation.


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