Conference in Almaty Marks 30 Years of Jewish Renaissance in Former Soviet Union

Hundreds of rabbis from over 500 communities of nine CIS countries gathered on Thursday for a four-day convention in Almaty, the largest city in Kazakhstan. The event was timed to the yahrzeit (the anniversary of death) of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson, the father of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

The conference was opened by the Chief Rabbi of Russia Berel Lazar, who stressed in his speech that in these uncertain times, when people cry out for both material and spiritual support, they need a community more than ever. “It is our duty to reach out to every Jew and to make them feel comfortable within the community and to provide the necessary assistance,” said Rabbi Lazar.

Thirty years ago the Rebbe sent out a handful of young emissaries to the FSU countries, and today hundreds of rabbis are serving and contributing to the revival of Jewish life in the local communities across the Former Soviet Union states.

Chief Rabbi of Perm Zalman Daich added that the current unity and tremendous development of the Jewish communities is a sign of the victory of such people as Levi Yitzchak Schneerson. This righteous man spent the last years of his life in exile in Kazakhstan, where he passed away. Therefore, Kazakhstan was chosen as the location for the meeting.

The event started at the resting place of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson in Almaty.

The President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev noted in his letter to the participants of the conference: “In the days of the great challenges that befell him, Rabbi Levi-Yitzhak Schneerson remained faithful to the thousand-year Jewish traditions and urged like-minded people not to deviate from the laws of Judaism. His selfless service contributed to the rooting of spiritual and moral values, humanism and solidarity among believers.”

Chief Rabbi of Russia delivered the opening speech.

The event was attended by the Vice Chairman of the Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, Chief Rabbi of Kazakhstan Yeshaya Cohen, Chief Rabbi of Dnipro Shmuel Kaminetsky and the sponsor of the conference, philanthropist Mr. Avraham Shaulson, as well as by 200 experienced rabbis and shluchim from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Estonia and Lithuania.

The participants thanked the conference organizers, the Or Avner Foundation in cooperation with Fleishman Peles Productions Ltd., for preparing the event and skillfully filling it with lectures, discussions, prayers, farbrengens and workshops. Special attention was paid to the health and safety measures: the organizers ensured that the attendees are fully vaccinated and all coronavirus-related restrictions and requirements were applied.

Photos by Yehezkel Itkin.

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