President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Friends, first of all, I want to congratulate you and Russia’s entire Jewish community on the Hanukkah holiday. We agreed to meet and discuss current matters, and so I am very pleased to see you.
Chief Rabbi of Russia Berl Lazar: It is very good that we are able to meet at this time when we are celebrating Hanukkah. This holiday symbolises the victory of faith over godlessness, of light over darkness. At that time, the Hellenic Kingdom wanted to destroy everything that was dear to us: our religion and our moral values. Then those who were prepared to fight emerged. God gave us a miracle, proving that faith and spirit are stronger than any army. The oil that should have burnt a single day burned for eight days.
Today, sadly, we see that in many countries people are once again trying to destroy all that is holy to us: our family and religious values. We are very grateful to you personally for all that you are doing for religion and for your respect for our religion’s values and the things most important to us.
I think that it is precisely during this time of Hanukkah that we can openly celebrate what is important to us. The fact that today the menorah is lit on central squares around Russia at Hanukkah is a real miracle.
Thank you very much indeed for what you are doing. We will try to do everything we can to be useful.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much.
We have a multi-ethnic nation with different religious faiths. Each part of our big nation has its individuality, its own unique culture and religion. But at the same time, we all share a common foundation that unites us, as you said just now. It is this that makes us a united nation, standing as one and ready and able to resolve the many tasks before us.
Once again, I congratulate you and wish you all the very best.