President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Today, Jewish people are celebrating Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. I want to extend greetings to you and all the Jewish people of Russia on this Jewish New Year and wish happiness, health, success, and wellbeing to every family – everything that people wish on New Year.
Russian Jews are happy people: yesterday marked Moscow's City Day, while today, elections are being held and Rosh Hashanah is being celebrated, two holidays back-to-back. I wish you all the very best.
Chief Rabbi of Russia Berel Lazar: Thank you. Thank you for your kind wishes. For us, Rosh Hashanah is not only a happy holiday but also a time for contemplation. We think about what happened on this day 5779 years ago, when the first man, the father of all people, was created and was born. For us, it is about this awareness, that we all are related, are close people, and need to be friends with each other, help and respect each other. This is the only way we can fulfill God's will.
Russia is a multinational and multi-confessional country, and we feel a friendly atmosphere everywhere. Due to your efforts, everything in Russia is going in the right direction today. We can see this inside our Jewish community. Everything is evolving, thank God. We see that the young generation wants and is eager to learn more; we see new centres, synagogues and schools opening. We have even more plans for the future. We are confident about tomorrow and we are truly thankful for today's atmosphere in Russia. Many Jewish books are being published. I would like to show you a new edition of the Talmud. Today, thank God, Jews feel comfortable here and look to the future with confidence. Thank you.
Vladimir Putin: You mentioned the birth of a man. How many children do you have?
Berel Lazar: Thank God, 14 children and seven grandchildren.
Vladimir Putin: 14 children. We need to emulate you.
Berel Lazar: Thank you.
Vladimir Putin: Give your wife my regards. May God give her health and all the very best.
Berel Lazar: All of them want to live here, in Russia, despite requests for them to work in other countries. My son is a rabbi in Simferopol, my second son will become a rabbi in Krasnodar, God willing. My daughters work with their husbands here in our communities.
Vladimir Putin: Very good. By the way, what is usually served on New Year?
Berel Lazar: There are many traditions. One of the most interesting ones is serving apples and honey. There is a good explanation for that. Apple is a fruit that is both tasty and beautiful, and has a wonderful smell. This, as we say, is what everyone wishes for: everyone wants life to bring joy and be wonderful, and feel that God gives us all that is necessary.
Vladimir Putin: Maybe we will give it a try next New Year?
Berel Lazar: I would be delighted.
President of the Federation of Jewish Communities Alexander Boroda: Or stuffed fish.
Vladimir Putin: Well, this dish is familiar to me. (Laughter.)