In a gala event Thursday, President Shimon Peres, along with Russian President Vladimir Putin, opened the unique Jewish Tolerance Museum in Moscow, which will use displays, interactive activities, and the latest technologies to tell the story of the Jewish people throughout the ages.
The 8,500 square foot institution cost millions of dollars to build and develop, and is the first to tell the “inside story” of the Jewish experience. While Israel's Diaspora Museum has many exhibits preserving the memory of Jewish communities around the world, the Tolerance Museum takes a more “personal” approach, telling the story of Jewish faith throughout the ages, the Creation of the world, the giving of the Torah, the Holy Temples, and Jewish suffering in the Exile. The museum emphasizes stories if Jewish heroism in the Holocaust and under Communism in Russia.
Unlike the Diaspora Musuem, the Tolerance Musuem also tells the story of the Jewish people from a faith point of view. The museum was the brainchild of Russia’s chief rabbi, Rabbi Berel Lazar, and the effort was headed by Rabbi Alexander Barda, who heads the Organization of Russian Jewish Communities, and Rabbi Baruch Gurin, chairman of the Museum.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, Peres said that the Jewish people “pray that the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, and the President of the United States who was just re-elected, Barack H. Obama, will join hands to put an end to terror and the dark threats against the world. We pray that they free the human race from bloodshed and the sowing of hopelessness.”
Peres also discussed the Iran issue. “The Iranian people are not our enemies. The hatred comes from Iran's leaders, who prefer control over progress. Iran claims that its religion forbids development of nuclear weapons, but it develops such weapons. Iran claims that it is for freedom, but it discriminates against women. It proclaims it is for justice, but shoots protestors. It claims it is for peace, but manufactures terror,” Peres said.
“The suffering imposed on the Iranian people is not an act of G-d, but a defect of the leadership. We are not alone in this,” Peres continued. “I know the Russuans are with us in this. Russia has fulfilled many important missions in the past in the salvation of the world, and today a similar great mission awaits it,” he added.