The Dangers in Russia are Great, says Senior Russian Rabbi
Limmud FSU Moscow, the flagship event of Limmud FSU, is currently taking place in the Moscow countryside. Some 1,400 participants, most between 25-40 are participating.
Speaking last night at the opening of the annual Limmud FSU conference in Moscow, Alexander Boroda, Chairman of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia, said; “The Jews of Russia must realize the dangers inherent in the possible collapse of the Putin government to understand the rules of the game and to be aware of the limitations.”
Boroda elaborated, “The government bears a similarity to that of the period of the Tsars, inasmuch as the personality of the president plays a far more important role than that of the president of the United States. All the Jews in Russia, and especially those who might be considering actions against the Putin administration, must understand the grave dangers that they take upon themselves and the potential consequences for themselves and for others. If they want to demonstrate or join opposition forces, it is vital that they weigh up very carefully the consequences, for example, the recent assassination of [Boris] Nemtsov.”
Boroda added, “In Russia there is virtually unlimited freedom of religion and the Jewish community must ensure that this situation continues. The support for religious institutions is wider than in the United States, and defense of the Jews against manifestations of anti-Semitism is greater than in other European countries. We do not have the privilege of losing what we have achieved and the support of the government for the community.”
With regard to the involvement of Jews in activities of the opposition to Putin, Boroda added; “That does not imply that they should not struggle for a more just and democratic Russia, but the Jews must understand the prevailing situation and the fact that the term ‘freedom’ is not an absolute. The responsibility of Russian Jews must, in the first place, be to the Jews themselves and only thereafter to the fate of Russia.”
Expressing a contrary view, Viktoria Mochilova, a participant and a well-known social activist, said that Boroda’s opinion is one-sided and that many Russian Jews think otherwise. “It is true that the present situation of Russian Jews is good; there is freedom of religion and there is no persecution as there was in the past. We appreciate this greatly. At the same time, that fact does not contradict the desire of the Jews, similar to that of other Russian citizens, to improve the situation of the state and to strive to make it more democratic and honest.”
Mochilova who has taken a very active role in opposition demonstrations added, “Many Jews went out into the [city] squares to take part in the latest demonstrations, because the fate and future of Russia is important to them, and they do not see the country simply as a temporary waystation.”