Russia delegation at Joseph's Tomb
Russia delegation at Joseph's TombMeir Barkia, Shomron Regional Council

In the late hours of Saturday night, the Chief Rabbi and other high-ranking officials from Russia visited Joseph's Tomb in Samaria.

Chief Rabbi of Russia Rabbi Berel Lazar and close associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin made a special trip late Saturday night to visit the Tomb of Joseph in the Samaria city of Shechem, in Shomron.

The delegation was hosted at the tomb by Shomron Regional Council head Gershon Mesika, regional Rabbi Eliyakim Levanon, and IDF Chief Rabbi Brigadier-General Rabbi Rafi Peretz.

The small group did not hide their joy at having the privilege to be present at the site, praying and dancing together with their hosts.

Psalms and prayers were read aloud by Rabbi Levanon for the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces and the State of Israel, and by Rabbi  Lazar for the safety of the Jews of Russia.

“From Joseph we learn that all of us, all of the people of Israel, are brothers,” Mesika said. We are privileged to be able to live here, in the inheritance of Joseph, and to pray in this holy place. We look forward to a full return to this place, to the Tomb of Joseph, the righteous.”

Rabbi Levanon added that Joseph “unites all the people of sanctity.” Rabbi Peretz called on the public to add to their worship from Joseph's Tomb a special prayer for the success of IDF soldiers in wherever they are.
Rabbi Lazar later was surprised to discover while thanking the IDF soldiers for guarding their delegation that one of their number had drawn close to his Judaism and prayed in the rabbi's own Moscow synagogue prior to making his aliyah to Israel.

The group was accompanied by Shomron Regional Council strategic affairs director Yossi Dagan and director of public affairs David Ha'Ivri, and Mesika thanked the IDF for its support with security arrangements.