Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday met with the Chief Rabbi of Russia Berel Lazar and the President of the Federation of Jewish Communities Alexander Boroda.
“Today, Jewish people are celebrating Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. I want to extend greetings to you and all the Jewish people of Russia on this Jewish New Year and wish happiness, health, success, and wellbeing to every family – everything that people wish on New Year,” Putin said.
“Russian Jews are happy people: yesterday marked Moscow's City Day, while today, elections are being held and Rosh Hashanah is being celebrated, two holidays back-to-back. I wish you all the very best,” he added.
Rabbi Lazar thanked the President and added, “For us, Rosh Hashanah is not only a happy holiday but also a time for contemplation. We think about what happened on this day 5779 years ago, when the first man, the father of all people, was created and was born. For us, it is about this awareness, that we all are related, are close people, and need to be friends with each other, help and respect each other. This is the only way we can fulfill God's will.”
“Russia is a multinational and multi-confessional country, and we feel a friendly atmosphere everywhere. Due to your efforts, everything in Russia is going in the right direction today. We can see this inside our Jewish community. Everything is evolving, thank God. We see that the young generation wants and is eager to learn more; we see new centers, synagogues and schools opening. We have even more plans for the future. We are confident about tomorrow and we are truly thankful for today's atmosphere in Russia. Many Jewish books are being published. I would like to show you a new edition of the Talmud. Today, thank God, Jews feel comfortable here and look to the future with confidence. Thank you,” added Rabbi Lazar.
Putin then told Rabbi Lazar, “You mentioned the birth of a man. How many children do you have?”
“Thank God, 14 children and seven grandchildren,” responded the rabbi, and Putin then quipped, “14 children. We need to emulate you.”
Putin also asked “what is usually served on New Year?” to which Rabbi Lazar replied, “There are many traditions. One of the most interesting ones is serving apples and honey. There is a good explanation for that. Apple is a fruit that is both tasty and beautiful, and has a wonderful smell. This, as we say, is what everyone wishes for: everyone wants life to bring joy and be wonderful, and feel that God gives us all that is necessary.”
Earlier on Sunday, Putin sent his well-wishes to Russian Jews ahead of Rosh Hashanah.
"I note with satisfaction that Jewish religious organizations are actively engaged in the country’s life, conduct effective charity activities, have implemented much needed educational projects, acquaint young people with their rich historical and spiritual heritage, the original culture and traditions of their ancestors,” he said.
"The contribution of the Jewish communities toward enhancing inter-ethnic and inter-religious dialogue and consolidating centuries-old friendship of Russia’s peoples is definitely important," added Putin.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Rosh Hashanah in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)