Monday, June 21st | 12 Tammuz 5781

The Top 100 People Positively Influencing Jewish Life, 2018


Berel Lazar

Chief rabbi of Russia

Eighteen is considered a lucky number Jewish tradition, and this year marks Italian-born Berel Lazar's eighteenth year as chief rabbi of Russia. Lazar's service to Russian Jews dates back to the fall of the Soviet Union in 1990, when he arrived in the country as an emissary of the Chabad movement. During Lazar's tenure, the Russian-Jewish community of nearly 200,000 has experienced a flowering unlike any other in its history. Lazar himself has described the last two decades as a "spiritual revolution" that created "hundreds of thriving communities." In the process, Lazar has become close – his critics say too close – with Russian President Vladimir Putin. That relationship is under renewed scrutiny following the recent revelations that Lazar secretly accompanied Putin on a visit to Iran in early 2018, with Putin summarily dismissing the objections of Iranian leaders to Lazar's presence. (Photo: Kremlin.)


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