Moscow, December 10, Interfax – Russian President Vladimir Putin has congratulated all Russian Jews on Hanukkah.
“This is a big and bright holiday when one candle is kindled every day. This is not just a holiday of renewal and light but also of courage of the Jewish people,” Putin said at a meeting with Russia’s Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar and Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia head Alexander Boroda in the Kremlin on Wednesday.
Putin wished “prosperity and all the best.” “I hope all dreams and plans will become true,” he said.
Lazar thinks that although Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday, it is universal. “This is a lesson for us: one unfortunately has to fight sometimes to protect himself, but war is just a means, while the goal is to give light to the world,” Lazar said.
He is certain that “sometimes strength is needed for a fight,” as it was needed in the 20th century to defeat fascism and as it is needed now to counter terrorism. “Our goal is to protect kindness, values and moral,” Lazar said. This is goal Russia is trying to achieve on the international arena, he noted.
Lazar assured Putin that “today Jews in Russia really feel comfortable.”
Hanukkah was established in 2nd century BC to commemorate the liberation of the Jerusalem temple, rededication and resumption of services after Syrian-Greek forces were ousted from the Temple Mount in 165 BC. Jews celebrate Hanukkah for eight days. That is the number of days that a sacred lamp that was filled with the last jar of oil that was not desecrated in the Jerusalem temple was burning after the defeat of Antiochus IV Epiphanes and the purge of the temple from Greek idols.