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Putin's childhood neighbour read Talmud to him?

LECHAIM DECEMBER 1999 TEVES 5760 - 12 (92)

Meeting of Jewish leaders with the head of the Russian government

On November 25, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin met with the leaders of the newly created Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia (FEOR) at the Russian White House.

Rabbi Berl Lazar, elected Chief Rabbi of the FEOR, Chairman of its Board of Trustees Levi Leviev, President of the Federation Mikhail Gluz and Chairman of the FEOR Chamber of Chairmen Mark Grubarg donated a silver menorah to the Prime Minister. Rabbi Lazar explained that the menorah symbolizes freedom of religion and such a gift is very relevant today, when we are witnessing a modern miracle - the revival of Jewish life in Russia.

Unexpectedly for the audience, Mr. Putin said that he had long been familiar with the menorah and Hanukkah. He spent his childhood in a communal apartment in which a Jewish family lived, observing Jewish traditions, and the boy often went to the neighbors, usually catching the father of the family reading the Talmud.

It turned out that the Prime Minister was very interested in the activities of the revival of Jewry in Russia. He listened with satisfaction to the information that more than 30 general Jewish schools have been opened in the country over the past decade. By the opening of one of them, Vladimir Vladimirovich turned out to be "personally involved": in 1991, while working in St. Petersburg, he happened to participate in the signing of permits for the first Jewish school in this city.

At the meeting, of course, the problem of anti-Semitism was raised, and the prime minister assured the guests that the government would take all possible measures to combat this shameful phenomenon.

Vladimir Putin could not help but share with the guests his attitude to the events in Chechnya that are topical for all Russians. According to the head of the Government of the Russian Federation, terrorism threatens not only our country, but the whole world.

The creation of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia, the unification of communities into a single organization with common goals, Mr. Putin considers a positive process. The government intends to provide all possible assistance to the newly created association.