Jewish 100, 2014: Berel Lazar – Religion
Chief rabbi of Russia
Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar of Russia has proven a key figure in securing the safety and spiritual freedom of that nation’s Jewish community. He spent much of his energy this past year appealing for unity among Russian and Ukrainian Jews, during a time of strife between the two nations. The Chabad-Lubavitch rabbi’s close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin put him in a position to advance Jewish interests for the large Jewish population in Russia. During Lazar’s leadership – he also chairs the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia and the Federation of Jewish Communities of the CIS – the Russian Jewish community has flourished, with charities, schools, clinics, orphanages and community centers across the country.