Berel Lazar, Chief Rabbi of Russia
Berel Lazar was born on May 19, 1964, in Milan to the family of a rabbi. He went to a Jewish school in 1971 and after graduation from it in 1978, decided to continue his religious education. Since there were no higher Jewish schools (yeshivas) in Milan, he had to go to the USA. He entered the rabbinic college in New Jersey and then the Tomchey Tmimim Central Yeshiva in New York. He graduated from the yeshiva in 1989, holding the certificate of rabbi and the title of religious judge (dayan).
He came for his first visit to the USSR in late 1987.
Immediately after his graduation from the yeshiva in 1989, Berel Lazar got married. At present, he and his wife Hana have twelve children. The future Chief Rabbi of Russia came to Moscow in summer 1989 and in September 1990 became a rabbi at the synagogue in Maryina Roscha in Moscow. In 1993, he was elected chairman of the Union of Rabbis in the CIS, which included the rabbis in Russia, most of the rabbis in Ukraine and some rabbis in other CIS countries.
In early 1998, communities united in a Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia (FJCR), which was registered with the Ministry of Justice in November of the same year. A year later, the FJCR met for its First Congress.
Berel Lazar became Russian citizen on May 29, 2000. He was incorporated in the Council for Cooperation with Religious Association in May 2000 at the instruction by Vladimir Putin.
The congress that was held on June 12, 2000, in Moscow, elected Berel Lazar Chief Rabbi of Russia.
He was one of the 37 religious leaders and the only rabbi in the world who attended the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 23-28, 2003.
Berel Lazar was incorporated in the presidium of Interreligious Council in Russia on December 25, 2001, and the presidium of the Interreligious Council in the CIS on March 3, 2004.