Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia awards billionaire Roman Abramovich for his key role in developing Jewish life.
BY TAMARA ZIEVE | The Jerusalem Post
Russian businessman Roman Abramovich had poured half a billion dollars into Jewish communities in Russia, Israel and other countries around the world, over the past 20 years, The Federation of Jewish communities of Russia (FJCR) announced Sunday.
Next year will mark the 20-year anniversary of the establishment of the FJCR. Among the events to celebrate that, the FJCR are planning a number of events during the coming year to celebrate important milestones achieved during these past two decades.
As part of this effort, a special recognition has been bestowed upon Abramovich, honoring him for his contributions of over $500 million over the past 20 years to Jewish causes in Israel, Russia and elsewhere.
The award is signed by Rabbi Alexander Boroda, FJCR president and the Chief Rabbi of Russia Berel Lazar.
“With the upcoming 20-year anniversary, we wanted to specially recognize those who have been vital to our work and to the Jewish community. Much of the work we do has been made possible thanks to Mr. Abramovich, and we are deeply thankful for his continued support,” Boroda said.
Boroda told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that some 80% of the developments in Jewish life in Russia are thanks to him. “He never talks about it but I want to because people don’t understand who is the source of it is – and it is him,” Boroda remarked.
“We have more than 160 communities in all of Russia and Roman supports them all,” he said, noting that the billionaire had given money to build and support institutions such as soup kitchens, schools and orphanages.
Today, the Federation of Jewish communities of Russia is a leading Jewish organization and connects 160 communities across 144 cities. In addition, they operate a higher education institution, 30 schools, 29 preschools and 94 Sunday schools.
“We have experienced a strong reappearance of Jewish communities in Russia over these past 20 years, and much of it has been made possible thanks to generous contributions like the one of Mr. Abramovich,” said Lazar. “This has allowed us to carry out educational and cultural work helping Jewish communities across the country.”
Boroda added that the most important activities weren’t necessarily religious ones, but various projects that help bolster Jewish life and help prevent assimilation of Russia’s Jews.
“We are Orthodox but the community center is not just for religious people,” he said, noting that the center seeks to serve the younger generations with various cultural and recreational services. The federation also provides humanitarian help to disadvantaged members of the communities, reaching more than 120 000 people in Russia with work such as charity lunch delivery, medical assistance for people in need and assistance to families with many children.
In addition to education, the FJCR also runs the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center, which attracts over 350,000 visitors per year. They also support the distribution of Jewish literature and have printed 1.5 million copies of various books via their publishing house “Knizhniki.”