“In honor of the Chief Rabbi of Russia Rabbi Berel Lazar, please accept my blessings on the occasion of your 55th birthday.”
These were the opening words of the letter from Russian President Vladimir Putin to Rabbi Berel Lazar. The birthday wishes were extended in honor of his 55th birthday; 55 is an important number in Russian tradition.
“You always work tirelessly and with great success for the development of the Jewish community in Russia. In the fields of education, welfare, and charity, your responsible and important activities are out of sincere concern for people and their needs. Your personal contribution to the strengthening of humanity has earned you a very good reputation. I wish you success in all of your endeavors, health, and all the best.”
The president sent his personal greetings to the chief rabbi’s office in the Jewish Community Center of the Marina Roscha neighborhood. Russian rabbis, heads of communities, and many public figures also sent their greetings, including Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.