Muslim President’s Unusual Wish: A Jewish center


president-of-tatarstan-rustam-minnikhanovThe Kazan Kremlin, the historic citadel complex in the Republic of Tatarstan and a World Heritage Site, is planned to house a Jewish center and perhaps even a shul.

The historic decision was announced at a recent meeting between the President of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov with Russia’s Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar, Tatarstan Chief Yitzchak Gorelik and Rabbi Alexander Boroda, President of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia.

Minnikhanov, a Sunni Muslim, said the idea was conceived during his January visit to the Jewish Museum and Center of Tolerance in Moscow, built with the help of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Hosting the rabbis at his Presidential Palace in Kazan, Minnikhanov said he wanted to build the same cultural and educational center in his country to help promote tolerance and honor the Jewish history.

The rabbis welcomed the idea and thanked the president for the support he provided to the restoration of the historic shul in Kazan which will soon be celebrating its 100th anniversary.

Earlier, the rabbis also visited the shul and were greeted by the philanthropists David Aminov and Israel Kantor. Speaking to community members, Rabbi Lazar praised their commitment to Judaism and called on them to do with unity.

Tatarstan, a federal subject of Russia, is located in the east-central part of Russia in the middle Volga River basin around the confluence of the Volga and Kama rivers. Most Tatars are Sunni Muslims.

The Jewish community boats a number of organizations including the Jewish Center Charitable Foundation Chesed Moshe, the Ohr Avner Chabad Kindergarten and School, Jewish Secondary School № 12 (ORT-Mishpahteinu), and the Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Kazan.